We are thrilled to announce that Karen Long, until recently the book editor at the Plain Dealer, will be coming on board as a consultant to the Anisfield-Wolf Awards. She will be replacing our kind and venerable leader, Mary Louise Hahn, who will be retiring after 17 years at the helm of the awards.
Long is leaving the Plain Dealer after an impressive 34-year career, covering not only books, but science, religion and cops as well. She became the newspaper’s book editor eight years ago and was an incredible supporter of the awards for many years (read one of her reviews here). Not only does Karen know and love books, but she fundamentally embraces our mission of highlighting works that address racism and diversity.
In her last column in the Plain Dealer she wrote:
In the fall of 1956, a baby was born in Seattle. Things did not look good.
The parents were young, inexperienced and poor. The infant was sickly. The father was not finished with school; the mother was unhappy to lose her job to tend to an ill child. They had fervently wanted a son.
Still, the trio pulled through. The little girl grew stronger. The father became the first in his family to graduate from college. He read “The Catcher in the Rye” and decided to become a teacher, inspired by Holden Caulfield’s notion of standing near a cliff, keeping all the rushing children from falling off.
His wife, meanwhile, fought down her fear and isolation by reading, first a novel then a nonfiction title, one after the other, keeping her interior life nourished. Not surprisingly, the girl grew into a literary bigamist, loving both fiction and factual books.
Eight years ago, I told this story to introduce myself as that girl — grown and newly named The Plain Dealer’s book editor. Today, I retell it to say goodbye, and to put my good fortune into perspective. (Read her full column here.)
Mary Louise Hahn will stay on for one year as an advisor. “I’m thrilled,” she said. “I believe Karen Long is the perfect person to garner the high-level attention that the book awards deserve.”