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Monthly Archives: September 2014

VIDEO: Q&A With George Lamming, 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

George Lamming, who spent decades as a leader of the Caribbean literary Diaspora, won our 2014 Lifetime Achievement award for his deeply political books that critique colonialism and neo-colonialism. His first novel, In the Castle of My Skin, drew accolades from Jean-Paul Sartre and Richard Wright. Health concerns prevented Lamming from attending our 2014 ceremony in person, but we were able to film him in his native Barbados for a brief Q&A:     Q&A with 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Winner George Lamming from Anisfield Wolf on Vimeo.   Read More →

Laird Hunt Announces Big-Screen Adaptation Of Latest Novel, “Neverhome”

Anisfield-Wolf winning novelist Laird Hunt capped his book tour for the newly-released “Neverhome” by returning to Cleveland this week, arriving directly from Toronto with big news: the Dublin-based Element Pictures has acquired rights to his new novel and signed Lenny Abrahamson to direct. Hunt, 46, had just met with Abrahamson in Canada, where the director is set to film Emma Donaghue’s suspenseful bestseller “Room.”  Hunt told his Cleveland audience, gathered in the Beachwood branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, that he and the Irish director hit it off and are excited about bringing “Neverhome” to film. It tells the story of Ash Thompson, formerly Constance Thompson, who leaves her Indiana farm disguised as a Union soldier to join the Civil War. Hunt said... Read More →

Anisfield-Wolf Winners Both Attend And Object To The Brooklyn Book Festival

  Photo credit: Belem Destefani Brooklyn, N.Y. -- The Brooklyn Book Festival—a celebratory, cerebral, free event that runs one Sunday in September—attracted tens of thousands of readers, and this year, a spike of controversy. Anisfield-Wolf jurors Rita Dove and Joyce Carol Oates read from their work, soaking up warm applause, while two recent fiction winners—Junot Diaz and Kamila Shamsie—signed a petition calling on the festival to sever its support from Israel’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “It is deeply regrettable that the Festival has chosen to accept funding from the Israeli government just weeks after Israel’s bloody 50-day assault on the Gaza Strip, which left more than 2,100 Palestinians – including 500 children – dead,” asserts the petition, distributed... Read More →

VIDEO: Anthony Marra On Winning The 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Award For Fiction

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is an intoxicating first book about intersecting lives in war-torn Chechnya. The novel begins as Russian officers burn down a Muslim home and “disappear” the father Dokka but can’t find his daughter Haava. A neighbor hides the 8-year-old girl in a barely-functioning hospital. Novelist Anthony Marra sets this story over five taut days, as the child is hunted and the adults around her try to navigate radically different circumstances. Marra teaches at Stanford University. We caught up with Marra a few hours before he accepted the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction. Hear his remarks in the brief video below: Anthony Marra, Winner Of The 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award For Fiction from Anisfield Wolf on Vimeo.   Read More →

VIDEO: Ari Shavit On Winning The 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award For Nonfiction

Ari Shavit, a columnist for Jerusalem’s daily newspaper Haaretz, spent five years writing My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel in English and Hebrew simultaneously. A former Israeli paratrooper, peace advocate and great-grandson of Victorian-era Zionists, Shavit carefully examines a fraught and difficult history, interweaving family memoir, multiple documents and hundreds of interviews with Arabs and Jews. This important, clarifying book asks why Israel was created, what it has achieved, what went wrong and if it can survive. We spent a few minutes with Shavit prior to this year's ceremony, and he expressed his gratitude to the jury for recognizing his work:  Ari Shavit, Winner of the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award For Nonfiction, for "My Promised Land" from... Read More →

VIDEO: Adrian Matejka On Winning The 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award For Poetry

Adrian Matejka's “The Big Smoke” is a nuanced, polyphonic book that explores the life of boxer Jack Johnson, the first African- American heavyweight world champion. A fan of the sport, Matejka was moved by this son of emancipated slaves – born in Texas just 13 years after the end of the Civil War – who loved Shakespeare, Verdi’s operas, travel abroad and a series of white women. The Big Smoke follows Johnson until 1912 in 52 poems. Matejka spent eight years researching and writing this book. He teaches at Indiana University in Bloomington.   We caught up with Matejka in a few quiet moments before this year's ceremony to hear his thoughts on being honored with the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for poetry:  Adrian Matejka, Winner of The 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Award for Poetry... Read More →

Adrian Matejka’s Poetry Hits The Canvas At Cleveland’s Old Angle Boxing Gym

Adrian Matejka reads from The Big Smoke at Cleveland's Old Angle boxing gym, September 10 | Photo Credit: Ryan Brady-Toomey Faded fight posters on the walls at Cleveland's Old Angle boxing gym served as an authentic backdrop for the poetry of Adrian Matejka, 2014 winner of an Anisfield-Wolf book award. Matejka's 52-poem collection, "The Big Smoke," centers on Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champion, who earned the crown in 1908. Gym owner Gary Horwitz rearranged his gym and his week to host. Dave Lucas, a founder of the "Brews & Prose" literary series, canceled his September plans and moved his audience from the Market Garden Brewery down W. 25th St. to the gym. The night featured Matejka’s reading, two live boxing demonstrations, and dollar bratwurst. Clad in... Read More →

REVIEW: Laird Hunt’s “Neverhome” Takes Readers On A Mesmerizing Journey

Neverhome Laird Hunt Little, Brown & Co., 246 pp., $26 Laird Hunt’s transfixing new novel “Neverhome” unspools in the voice of a Civil War soldier.  It works upon the reader like a haunting.  The narrator is Ash Thompson, a young woman passing as a man into the uniform of the Union.The opening line: “I was strong and he was not so it was me went to war to defend the Republic.” Ash Thompson—born Constance—is telling us about her young husband Bartholomew and her strong desire to leave their Indiana farm to see the world: “I wanted to drink different waters, feel different heats. Stand with my comrades atop the ruin of old ideas. Walk forward with a thousand others. Plant my boot and steel my eye and not run.  I said all of this to my dead mother, spoke it down... Read More →

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Launches Real-Life “Americanah” Blog

Last year, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie created Ifemelu, the protagonist and blogger in her novel “Americanah,” one of the smartest and sharpest chronicles of contemporary life on three continents. Now, readers can catch up with Ifemelu through "The Small Redemptions of Lagos," at AmericanahBlog.com. This new blog focuses on Ifemelu's life in Nigeria, a kind of younger sibling to the novel’s incendiary and anonymous blog, “Raceteenth or Various Observations about American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negros) by a Non-American Black.” The new installment is no less expressive. Ifemelu's observations are piercing, even on such subjects as a leaky roof at a Lagos airport or a friend who needs to take better care of herself: "Don’t expect water to taste like Coke. It is not Coke... Read More →

Take A #LiteracySelfie To Mark International Literacy Day — And Tag A Friend

How can a book lover mark September 8—International Literacy Day? Here's a notion from the Literacy Cooperative of Cleveland, which has teamed up with the Cuyahoga County Public Library and Cleveland Public Library, to enlist social media's stickiness in the cause: Just snap a picture of yourself with a book you’re enjoying and post it on all your channels---Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, using the hashtag #literacyselfie. Along with the visuals, organizers hope you will chat about the book itself and its appeal. Cleveland State University President Ron Berkman and WKYC News Anchor Russ Mitchell will be sharing selfies, as will other high-profile Clevelanders. Cleveland could use the boost: Most incoming kindergartners are unprepared for school, and a quarter of residents older... Read More →
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