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Cuyahoga County Public Library Celebrates Anisfield-Wolf

The Anisfield-Wolf book prize 75th anniversary celebration is in full swing at Cuyahoga County Public Library. Since January, Library staff members have facilitated lively discussions of books by Anisfield-Wolf book prize-winning authors in each of the Library’s 28 branches.

Special Anisfield-Wolf book discussion series held in the Library’s Bay Village (502 Cahoon Road / 440.871.6392), Beachwood (25501 Shaker Boulevard / 216.831.6868) and Parma Heights (6206 Pearl Road / 440.884.2313) branches have been extremely popular. Each month, book clubs meet at these branches to engage in thought-provoking discussions of books by Anisfield-Wolf book prize-winners. Past discussion titles have included: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz; Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali; and The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed, among many others.

During a recent discussion of Toni Morrison’s prize-winning novel Beloved at the Parma Heights Branch, book club members spoke eloquently about how profoundly the book had changed their lives. One member said she was proud to belong to a group that would read and discuss such a book.

Members of the Bay Village Branch book club expressed their gratitude recently for the opportunity to read and share their thoughts about Edwidge Danticat’s poignant memoir, Brother, I’m Dying. The book resonated profoundly with the group, particularly in the aftermath of Haiti’s devastating earthquakes, and prompted a thoughtful discussion of the island nation’s past and current tragedies.

Book club members at the Beachwood Branch enjoyed a special visit from Anisfield-Wolf book prize representative Laura Scharf, who shared the history of the prize as well as the story of its founder, Edith Anisfield Wolf.

Books by Anisfield-Wolf prize-winning authors have also been featured in the Library’s monthly Online Book Discussion. These online discussions, which are moderated by Library staff members, allow readers to share their thoughts on selected books with fellow readers across Cuyahoga County from their home or office computer. In May, in conjunction with Child and Family Month, the online book group held a discussion for teen readers of The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, as well as a family-friendly discussion of Louise Erdrich’s children’s novel The Birchbark House.

By facilitating these discussions, Cuyahoga County Public Library seeks not only to connect readers with the works of outstanding authors, but also to highlight the rich, storied history of the Anisfield-Wolf book prize and to spread the Anisfield-Wolf message of tolerance in today’s global society.

All Cuyahoga County Public Library book discussions are open to the public. To participate in the online book discussion or to register for a book discussion group at a Library branch, visit www.CuyahogaLibrary.org.

Sari Feldman
Executive Director, Cuyahoga County Public Library

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