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Tag Archives: 2013

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 Fruit’ by Abel Meeropol, which was made famous as a song by Billie Holiday,” Hunt, now 48, writes about the source of his new novel. “At least 10,000 people (some put the number as high as 15k) flooded into the medium-sized town to attend the... Read More →

REVIEW: Andrew Solomon’s “Far & Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change: Seven Continents, Twenty-Five Years”

When Andrew Solomon went to Finland to promote The Noonday Demon, his ground-breaking 2001 book on depression, he landed on a leading morning television show.The interviewer, “a gorgeous blonde woman, leaned forward and asked in a mildly offended tone, ‘So, Mr. Solomon. What can you, an American, have to tell the Finnish people about depression?’” the writer recalls in his newest work.“I felt as though I had written a book about hot peppers and gone to promote it in Sichuan,” Solomon jokes in the leisurely and chatty introduction to Far & Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change: Seven Continents, Twenty-Five Years.Clearly this 52-year-old writer, who won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 2013, has serious wanderlust. Solomon has traveled to 83 of the 196 recognized nations... Read More →

Poet Eugene Gloria Brings Discussion On Identity To Hiram College

  Credit: Kirsten L. Parkinson Tom Pantic, a junior at Hiram College in Ohio, wanted to know how poet Eugene Gloria felt about being put in the Asian box. Gloria, known for his nuanced poems exploring identity, geography and masculinity, took a moment in the college’s wood-paneled Alumni Heritage Room to gather his thoughts on a complicated question. “I’m OK with being grouped with Asian American poets – I’m very proud of that community,” he said. “It is a problem to be put on the ethnic shelf, with ‘American poets’ shelved elsewhere – that’s a problem for me. I’m happy to represent. I’m a Filipino poet but there are many other identities I inhabit.” Gloria, now 58, was the youngest of six children when his family left Manila and settled in San... Read More →

Anisfield-Wolf Winners Fall On Both Sides Of PEN American Center’s Charlie Hebdo Award Controversy

More than 200 prominent authors—among them Anisfield-Wolf winners Junot Diaz and Kamila Shamsie—have publicly objected to the PEN American Center's decision to present French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo its Free Expression Courage award.  Gunmen aggrieved by the magazine’s depiction of Islam targeted the controversial Paris weekly in January and killed a dozen people. The signatories of an April letter to PEN argue that power and privilege must be considered when defining courageousness in satire: "The inequities between the person holding the pen and the subject fixed on paper by that pen cannot, and must not, be ignored." One of the critics is former PEN American president Francine Prose. Defending the decision, her successor, Andrew Solomon, co-wrote an op-ed for the... 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 →

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 →

Wole Soyinka At 80: The Author Speaks On Politics, Contemporary Nigerian Culture, And Boko Haram

The magisterial Wole Soyinka turned 80 this week, and—once again—the world is listening. In London, the Royal African Society hosted "Wole Soyinka at 80," a retrospective on the life of the Nobel laureate and Anisfield-Wolf winner, exploring his influence in politics and letters.  As a young man, the Nigerian playwright and poet attempted to broker peace during the 1967 Biafran War, becoming a political prisoner and spending 22 months in solitary confinement.  He wrote “The Man Died” out of that experience. For the retrospective, Soyinka joined editor and critic Margaret Busby to reflect on his upbringing and the relationship between politics and culture. He has spent more than 50 fierce years campaigning against Nigerian despotism, often with a price on his head. Soyinka’s... Read More →

New Poetry Collection From Kevin Powers Places War’s Aftermath In Verse

“Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting” publishes this week, the first collection of poetry from Anisfield-Wolf fiction winner Kevin Powers. Here is the title poem: I tell her I love her like not killing or ten minutes of sleep beneath the low rooftop wall on which my rifle rests. I tell her in a letter that will stink, when she opens it, of bolt oil and burned powder and the things it says. I tell her that Private Bartle says, offhand, that war is just us making little pieces of metal pass through each other. Powers, who grew up in Richmond, Va., enlisted the day after he turned 17. He served as a U.S. Army machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar, Iraq, in 2004 and 2005. Those years informed “The Yellow Birds,” a first novel that writer Tom Wolfe called “the... Read More →

“Your Words Have Changed My Life”: Dayton Literary Peace Prize Ceremony Salutes Literary Heavyweights

Pictured, from left to right: Andrew Krivak, Andrew Solomon, Wendell Berry, Tim O’Brien, Maaza Mengiste, Gilbert King, Adam JohnsonPhoto credit: Andy Snow The potency of literature went on vivid display in early November when readers gathered around the writers who won this year’s Dayton Literary Peace Prizes. They started with an intense and intimate two-hour session at Sinclair Community College in downtown Dayton. “I need to give a shout-out to Wendell Berry, whose ‘The Gift of Good Land’ was one of the most important books of my life,” boomed Sinclair President Steven Lee Johnson, turning to the celebrated Kentucky author in praise of the 1981 essay collection, one of Berry’s 50 titles. A bit later, a woman in a pink sweater rose, lifted her chin to Berry and fiercely... Read More →

VIDEO: Wole Soyinka On Winning A Lifetime Achievement Award

At the conclusion of this year's ceremony, a number of Nigerians in attendance approached our lifetime achievement winner Wole Soyinka, for a chance to get close to the man they admired. A few bowed in his presence. He returned their kindness, speaking with a few before being whisked away to the book signing. We spoke with Soyinka to hear his thoughts on being honored for a lifetime of work and what it means to get that type of reception at this point in his career:   2013 Lifetime Achievement Winner Wole Soyinka from Anisfield Wolf on Vimeo. Read More →
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