Ages 18+.

Sweetness in the Belly

In alternating chapters, Lilly, a nurse in a London hospital, recounted evocatively life among the immigrant Muslim families and her unimaginable hardship growing up as a “farenji”(foreigner) in Africa. Orphaned at 8, Lilly was left in care of a learned scholar in Morocco by her hippie parents and was brought up a devout Muslim. Civil war forced her to flee to Harar, Ethiopia where she courageously built a life among abject poverty and famine, and eventually fell in love with an idealistic young doctor.

Written with great warmth, clarity and grace, Camilla Gibb examines the concept of home and what it means to be “foreign”. This novel also celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the redemptive ability of Sweetness in the belly (love). A remarkable novel from a young writer on the Orange Futures List.

Peter Benchley, author of Jaws, has died

Peter Benchley

Peter Benchley, author of Jaws, one of the scariest shark-infested thrillers ever written, has died.

A freelance writer since the age of 16, Benchley finally published his long-imagined novel in 1974. When it was snapped up by Hollywood a year later by Steven Spielberg, the electrifying iconic music by John Williams won an Oscar in 1976 for in the Best Music: Original Score category.

Benchley went on to write nearly a dozen more novels as well as several non-fiction titles.

Benchley, who was 64, died of pulmonary fibrosis.

Michael Crichton won the WHAT?!?!?!? Award

In a move that has already raised the ire of more than a few scientists and is sure to raise a whole bunch of eyebrows in the publishing world, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists has just named Michael Crichton its Journalist of the Year for his poo-pooing of global warming in his 2004 eco-terror thriller State of Fear.

Daniel Schrag, director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment said this award is "a total embarrassment." Stephen H. Schneider, a climatologist at Stanford, was more blunt -- "demonstrably garbage." (New York Times, Feb.9, 2006)

Crichton, who was called as a key witness in a Senate Hearing on Science in Environmental Policy-Making on September 28, 2005, uses as the heart of State of Fear, the belief that global warming has no basis in reality and is merely the product of the imagination of evil scientists.

Tobias Wolff and Adam Haslett share the 2006 PEN/Malamud prize

The 2006 PEN/Malamud Award for short fiction is being shared this year by Tobias Wolff and Adam Haslett.

The PEN/Malamud Award, established in 1988 by the family of the late Bernard Malamud, recognizes established short story writers as well as emerging talent.

Wolff, author of memoirs and novels, has written three short story collections -- In the Garden of the North American Martyrs: A Collection of Short Stories, Back in the World (will be ordered next week), and The Night in Question: Stories.

Lincoln scholarship continues to flourish

Abraham Lincoln's birthday anniversary (Sunday, February 12) is an appropriate occasion to note the ongoing contributions to the historical appraisals and biographical investigations which are continuously amplifying the huge literature on the 16th president. Richard Carwardine's soon to be released Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power will probably be one of the most important Lincoln books of the next few years. Written by a British scholar, the book is a judicious, generally laudatory, portrait of Lincoln as man and president. Joshua Shenk's Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled his Greatness claims that Lincoln was a lifelong sufferer of depression, but that he used it to strenthen his resolve and commitment to the causes he fought for. A more controversial analysis of Lincoln's personality is C.A. Tripp's The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, by a well-known therapist and former Kinsey sex researcher, which argues that Lincoln was bisexual, and exhibited many homosexual traits.

Older and Wiser?

Do you wonder what's ahead in life? Did you enjoy Tuesdays With Morrie? More moving and unexpected treasures lie in Am I Old Yet? and the documentary film Sunset Story. Think on!

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Bestseller List (2/5/06)

It was so exciting to see the lastest novel by Bernard Cornwell on the List last Sunday. I love historical fiction and for my money, there is no better writer than the creator of the terrific Sharpe series. For a blast from the past, give him a try.

At #4 is Death Dance by Linda Fairstein: the former Manhattan district attorney has her fictional alter ego investigating a ballerina's disappearance.

At #10 is The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury: a grand adventure involving the notorious Knights Templars, the Vatican, a secret coding device and hidden treasures.

Phoebe Gloeckner @ Neutral Zone Wednesday, Feb. 15 (7-9 pm)

Graphic novelist, Gloeckner, will talk about Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Picturesand other works. New York Times Sunday Magazine says Gloeckner is “one of the most accomplished [cartoonists] in terms of mastery of the medium”. Check her out at ravenblond.com.

Alan Shalleck, Curious George collaborator, has died

Shalleck

Alan Shalleck, 76, who collaborated with Margret Rey on dozens of Curious George books and film shorts, was found dead today at his home in Florida.

Curious George, the lovable mischievous monkey created by Ms. Rey and her husband Hans in 1939, makes his big screen debut this Friday, February 10 in Curious George.

Police are treating Mr. Shalleck's death as a homicide.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Bestseller List (1/29/06)

It was another slow week for newly released books. The Da Vinci Code celebrated its 147th week on the List by moving back into the top spot and only one new title made the cut.

At #3 is The Cat Who Dropped the Bombshell by Lilian Jackson Braun: the cat is back, helping Jim Qwilleran solve yet another mystery.

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