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Anisfield-Wolf Community Blog

Anisfield-Wolf Authors Protest “Muslim Ban” In An Open Letter To President Trump

Sixty-six writers and artists – including seven Anisfield-Wolf recipients and two jury members – wrote an open letter to President Donald Trump asking him to desist from broadly banning travel to the United States by people from seven predominately Muslim countries. The letter, sponsored by PEN America, is timed to influence the president before he issues a second version of his original, sweeping travel ban, which is now stayed by the U.S. District Court of Appeals. “Preventing international artists from contributing to American... Read More →

Novelist Laird Hunt On The Women Who Influenced His Midwestern Storytelling

Credit: Ulf Andersen/Aurimages/AFP FORUM Laird Hunt, Wikipedia will tell you, “is an American writer, translator and academic.”  True, as far as that goes. But readers of Hunt’s haunted, touched-by-the-fantastical fiction know it goes much deeper, and farther back. At 48, Hunt’s beard has grayed, and he’s updated his stylish glasses since 2013, when he won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for his antebellum novel “Kind One.” Today he describes that work as the beginning of a triptych, which grew to include his mesmerizing Civil War... Read More →

Author Margot Lee Shetterly Shares “Hidden Figures” Origin Story At Case Western Reserve University

Seven years ago, Hidden Figures author Margot Lee Shetterly discovered a great untold story in her own hometown.   Shetterly, 47, grew up in Hampton, Virginia surrounded by "extraordinary ordinary people," men and women who toiled daily at NASA's Langley Research Center, including her own father. But it wasn't until a holiday visit when her husband asked a question—prompting her father's story about the black women who calculated the trajectories of the first orbital space flight—that the gravitas really sunk in.... Read More →

REVIEW: Laird Hunt’s “The Evening Road”

The Evening Road returns Laird Hunt to Indiana, where the Anisfield-Wolf winner lived on his grandmother’s farm during his high school years, and where his feel for the rural Midwest and its uncelebrated people has few equals in American literature. This seventh novel springs from one of the nation’s most troubled wells. Hunt tells it over a single summer night, anchored in the bloody lynching of two men – Abram Smith and Thomas Shipp -- in Marion, Indiana August 7, 1930.   “The events of that evening gave rise to the poem ‘Strange... Read More →

Author Isabel Wilkerson On Past And Present: “Our Current Divisions Are Neither New Nor Surprising”

Journalist Isabel Wilkerson keeps her readers connected to history.   During the summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Wilkerson gave context to swimmer Simone Manuel's historic gold medal by bringing forward the long history of blacks being barred from public pools and beaches -- and she did it in a mere 300 words. Likewise, when Clevelanders rejoiced over their first NBA championship, Wilkerson pointed out the triumph rested on LeBron James being a child of the Great Migration. She regularly uses her Facebook page to profile... Read More →

In Jacqueline Woodson’s World, The Hard Conversations Come Easy

Karen R. Long contributed to the reporting. Every evening in her four-story Brooklyn townhouse, author Jacqueline Woodson and her partner gather their family around for a meal and a ritual: Each person shares one act of kindness they've given that day -- and one way kindness found its way back to them.  Celebrated for Brown Girl Dreaming and Another Brooklyn, Woodson, 53, writes literature with family at its core.  Each Kindness, her 2012 picture book, considers two schoolgirls and a missed chance at friendship. "How does one walk through... Read More →

A Literary President: Obama Reflects On The Books That Gave Him Stamina And Resolve

President Barack Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia shop at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., back in 2014. Official White House photo by Pete SouzaLate at night and through eight grueling years, literature helped sustain the outgoing president of the United States. In a wide-ranging interview with New York Times chief book critic Michiko Kakutani, Barack Obama reflected on the centrality of reading and the titles that have given him insight and solace, particularly in fiction.  He mentions just completing Colson Whitehead's "The... Read More →

“Hidden Figures” Is Getting A Lot Of Hollywood Buzz, But Don’t Forget About The Book

Type "scientist" into Google and what images do you find? As author Margot Lee Shetterly would describe it, the results are pretty pale. They are "mostly male. Usually white." But the Virginia writer knew this convention to be false. She grew up surrounded by blacks in STEM. Her father spent 40 years working in NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Her aunts and uncles overwhelmingly made their way into engineering and technology. To Shetterly, "the face of science was brown like mine."  It makes sense, then, that her first... Read More →

“Racism Does Not Die Easily”: Reflections On Parallels Between The Japanese And Muslim Experience In America

by Matthew Hashiguchi, documentary filmmaker Over the past year, I’ve been asked many times about the correlation between Japanese Americans and Muslim Americans.I recently completed a documentary film, Good Luck Soup, which chronicles my family’s experience in the decades after the World War II Internment Camps. Many suggest that the Japanese American experience of the 1940s mirrors the Muslim American experience of today. While there are similarities, the starkest isn’t between Muslims and Japanese Americans, rather, it’s between the... Read More →

Let These Books — From Poetry To The Political — Kick Off Your 2017 Reading List

How does one structure a year in reading?The New York Times published the answers of 47 writers and artists who reflected on the books they chose over the past year. Their responses create a fascinating skein of reading and thinking, and include essays from four Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recipients. The entire conversation, which weaves from basketball hall-of-famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to filmmaker Ava DuVernay to former House speaker Newt Gingrich to author Maxine Hong Kingston, is enlivening, a hopeful way to face into a new year.Praise for... Read More →
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