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Monthly Archives: April 2012

VIDEO: David Livingstone Smith On Why Humans Demean Other Humans

"This book is the first serious study of the phenomenon of dehumanization," David Livingstone Smith says in this recent interview on his book, Less Than Human. "No one has really looked into what goes on when human beings think of other groups of human beings as sub-human creatures."  Check out the full interview to see how dehumanization has contributed to global crises like the Holocaust and global wars. Visit his website at RealHumanNature.com. Read More →

5 Things To Know About Esi Edugyan, 2012 Winner For Fiction

We’ll be spending this week exploring the lives and works of the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Award winners. Today we're recognizing Esi Edugyan, who won the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Award for Half-Blood Blues.  She counts Leo Tolstoy and Alice Munro among her favorite writers of all time: "Tolstoy has given me the most, year after year, without fail. I return to him for his scope, his sense of human destiny, the vastness of his vision. Alice Munro, for the precision of her writing, the sharp corners she can turn between sentences. There are many others – dozens and dozens! – of course."  If she wasn't a writer, she'd still be doing something creative: "I honestly don't know. On those days when you're having problems and dreaming of greener pastures, you know, you think about it…I... Read More →

5 Things To Know About David W. Blight, 2012 Winner For Nonfiction

We'll be spending this week exploring the lives and works of the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Award winners. First up is David W. Blight, 2012 winner for nonfiction, for his work, American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era. He's working on a biography of Frederick Douglass to be released in 2013. He is, as to be expected from his body of work, one of the nation's most preeminent scholars on the Civil War. (Read his thoughts on whether the war could have been prevented.)  His course at Yale, The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877, is available for free on Yale's Open Courses website. Check it out here.  His work has been acknowledged by many, as his long list of awards and accolades can prove. He's won the Frederick Douglass Prize, the Lincoln Prize, the Merli Curti... Read More →

Meet Our 2012 Winners!

“The 2012 Anisfield-Wolf winners reflect the complexity of the issues of race and cultural diversity in our world,” said Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University, who serves as jury chair. “These books and the people who created them help us gain a deeper understanding of the need to respect both the humanity and individuality of one other.” Our 2012 winners are (click on any of the photos to read more on the authors): Esi Edugyan, Half-Blood Blues: A Novel, Fiction David Blight, American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era, Nonfiction David Livingstone Smith, Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others... Read More →

The 5 Best Quotes Ever Uttered By Ernest J. Gaines

We realize the headline is a bit of hyperbole but in researching Mr. Gaines for this week's exploration of his life and works, we realize that he has a tremendous way with words. Not just on the page, but in interviews as well. English rolls off his tongue in a way that to the ear often sounds like poetry, and his fingers create rich worlds without burdening the reader with five-dollar words. We gathered some of his best quotes from interview past so you could see for yourself how he does it:  On writing for the reader:  I write as well as I can and I learned from reading people like Hemingway, and others, that writing less is better. If I can say something in five words instead of seven words, I’ll use five. Sometimes it’s a little difficult for some people to understand it if... Read More →

Get to Know…Ernest J. Gaines

Each week, we’ll be helping you to get to know our winners better (what a great bunch they are) and highlighting the best of their work, interviews and essays. This week, our focus is on Ernest J. Gaines, our 2000 Lifetime Achievement winner. "...to me, without books, life would be a mistake." In this video with the National Endowment for the Arts, Ernest J. Gaines sat down to talk about one of his most popular books, A Lesson Before Dying. He talks about getting paid to write letters for the less-literate members of the community (getting a nickel or a tea cake for his efforts), about learning from white writers, about his humble beginnings. It's worth watching if you value good conversations about literature.  Read More →

Will Zadie Smith’s New Novel Live Up To Her Previous Works?

In the music industry, there is always a collective sigh of relief when an artist releases a work after an absence—and the work is as good as (or better than) their previous efforts. Same is true for authors. Zadie Smith has not released a novel since 2005's On Beauty and the literary world has been waiting for her return. In March it was announced that her fourth novel, titled NW, would be released in September. We dug around for a description and found what sounds like a great book:  From BlackBook:  "Somewhere in Northwest London stands Caldwell housing estate, relic of 70s urban planning. Five identical blocks, deliberately named: Hobbes, Smith, Bentham, Locke, and Russell. If you grew up here, the plan was to get out and get on, to something bigger, better. Thirty years... Read More →

Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules For Writers (Take #7 To Heart!)

We enjoy a good list just as much as the next person, and even more so when it comes to advice for writers. We're an interesting bunch, full of quirks and idiosyncrasies, and doubts and fears and ambition. We devour information and try to spit out prose. So when we came across this bunch of tips from Zadie Smith, we decided that yes, we needed to share it with you.  From The Guardian:  When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else. When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would. Don't romanticise your "vocation". You can either write good sentences or you can't. There is no "writer's lifestyle". All that matters is what you leave on the page. Avoid your weaknesses. But... Read More →

Get to Know…Zadie Smith

Each week, we’ll be helping you to get to know our winners better (what a great bunch they are) and highlighting the best of their work, interviews and essays. This week we'll be sharing the best of Zadie Smith with you, our 2006 winner for fiction.  We celebrated Zadie Smith's work in 2006 after the release of her third book, On Beauty. A powerful story about cultural differences and conservative values, On Beauty has also won the Orange Prize for Fiction. In the video below, Smith reads a section of her novel during the PEN World Voices Festival. Read More →

Oprah By The Numbers – Her Influence And Power

When you reach a level in your career when you can go by one name—Oprah—it's safe to say that you've made an impact in your industry. And Oprah's so influential that her industry is the world. She's touched almost every avenue—education, books, TV, film, magazines, philanthropy. The only self-made African American female billionaire, she has a line of accomplishments a couple miles long. Here's some of her most impressive stats (some facts and figures provided by PBS):  $350 million  An estimate of the amount Oprah has reportedly given of her own money to charitable causes. Oprah has raised more than $51 million for charitable organizations through her show, including education. Her charitable organizations are said to be worth $200 million. 48 million viewers    The... Read More →
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