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Monthly Archives: October 2017

Andrew Solomon’s “Far From The Tree” Finds A New Life On The Big Screen

A still from the new film, "Far from the Tree" Four years after Andrew Solomon took home the 2013 Anisfield-Wolf nonfiction prize for “Far from the Tree,” his work is finding a new medium: film.  Next month, the documentary version from Emmy award-winning filmmaker Rachel Dretzin will premiere at DOC NYC, the nation's largest documentary-focused film festival. The response has been strong enough to add a second showing. The 90-minute film, also called “Far From the Tree,” uses the same scaffolding as the book, embedding viewers in the lives of parents whose children fit into disparate identities: deafness, autism, and dwarfism, along with seven others.  “All parenting turns on a crucial question: to what extent parents should accept their children for who they are... Read More →

Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank Named Recipient Of 2017 Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award

Cleveland Kids' Book Bank co-founders, Judy Payne (center) and Judi Kovach (right) receive their 2017 Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award. Margaret Bernstein (left), director of advocacy and community initiatives for WKYC, introduced the women to each other. The Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank is a juggernaut. Less than 20 months after its founding in March 2016, it had distributed 848,583 free books to underserved children in Cuyahoga County. And as hard as it is to visualize that number – even standing in a warehouse staffed by 3,000 volunteers – the number of titles is shifting upward, faster than the weekly update on its website can track. For this tsunami of success, the Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank is the recipient of the 2017 Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award, $25,000 given each fall to a... Read More →

Michelle Kuo’s “Reading With Patrick” Smashes Predictable White-Savior Tropes In The Classroom

Michelle Kuo, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, describes herself as a shy child growing up in western Michigan who rarely raised her hand in class. But her first book, a memoir called "Reading with Patrick," has captured the accolades of two men who think deeply about education: James Forman, who teaches at Yale Law School and is the author of this year’s “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.” Arthur Evenchik, who coordinates the Emerging Scholars program at Case Western Reserve University Evenchik and Forman have posted a 2,500-word book review on The Atlantic website, concluding, “in all of the literature addressing education, race, poverty, and criminal justice, there has been nothing quite like 'Reading with Patrick.'” Patrick is... Read More →

REVIEW: “Sing Unburied Sing” Fits Perfectly Into Jesmyn Ward’s Canon Of Southern Literature

The pages of Jesmyn Ward's third novel, "Sing, Unburied, Sing," smell of Mississippi. Set in the same fictional town, Bois Sauvage, as her 2011 National Book Award-winning novel, “Salvage the Bones,” her latest fiction returns to tell again of family bonds, tested by unresolved trauma and unrelenting Southern poverty. She undergirds the sense of place with a seven-line epigraph from Derek Walcott’s “The Gulf.” At the heart of “Sing” is Jojo, a 13-year-old narrator focusing on his budding manhood. His role model? Pop, whose days are spent taking care of his cancer-stricken wife, Mam, Jojo’s toddler sister Kayla, and to a lesser extent, his daughter Leonie, Jojo’s mother. Ward, a Mississippian and Tulane University professor, excels with a narrative that knits... Read More →

REVIEW: Adrian Matejka’s “Map To The Stars” Is An Extraordinary Ride

by Charles Ellenbogen Anisfield-Wolf award winner Adrian Matejka has produced another excellent book of poems. I chose the word ‘book’ deliberately. This is not a collection of poems, but it is, like The Big Smoke, a book. Generally, when I read poetry, I can read 2 or 3 poems at a time. If I read too many more, I can’t really give them the attention they deserve. This is not to say that Matejka’s poems don’t deserve careful attention; they do. It’s just that the book has such a narrative drive (see the transition between “Stardate 8705.29” and “Business as Usual” for an example) that I often had to remind myself to slow down. Together, "Map to the Stars" tells a compelling coming-of-age story that involves a move to the suburbs (which means a move from Prince to... Read More →

Cleveland Book Week Highlights: Isabel Allende Speaks At The City Club Of Cleveland

During Cleveland Book Week, the incomparable Isabel Allende joked at age 75 about her new boyfriend, and about her approach to literature: "I've been writing for 35 years and I have no idea how I do it. I don't have an idea of what the book is about until it's published and I read the reviews," she quipped in a talk on life and literature at the City Club of Cleveland. She begins each book on January 8, commemorating the day she sat down at her kitchen table -- a stymied 40-year-old exile -- to begin a letter to her century-old grandfather. That letter poured out of her until it became The House of the Spirits, which launched Allende onto a global stage. It led to her being named this year’s Anisfield-Wolf recipient for lifetime achievement. "Having a sacred day to start... Read More →
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