2020 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards Documentary Now Available To Stream

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Quincy Jones turned 80 years old this year—a number he never thought he’d live to see.

“I guess if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans…right?” he wrote to his Facebook fans on the eve of his big day March 14. Turning 80 was but one highlight of his year as Jones arrived in Los Angeles Thursday night to be inducted into the 28th class of Rock and Rock Hall of Fame inductees.

After more than 60 years in the business, Jones’ reach is unparalleled. His production credits stretch from Sarah Vaughn, Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington and more. The albums he’s shepherded have sold more than 200 million copies, making him one of the most influential artists in the industry.

In interviews and in his lively autobiography, Q, which earned him a 2001 Anisfield-Wolf award, Jones repeats the story of how music saved his life. “I wanted to be a gangster until I stumbled upon a Spinet piano,” he has said. He’s parlayed that anecdote into a new business venture, Playground Sessions. After he recognized the popularity of video games like Guitar Hero, he wanted to help make that interest in music stick for kids, whose parents often can’t afford pricey piano lessons or instrumental rental fees. For a small monthly fee on the site, young musicians can learn to play popular songs, giving them a bit more than the traditional scales for beginners.

Clearly, Jones isn’t slowing down any time soon. He’s busy promoting his new artists (including 11-year-old pianist Emily Bear) and launching new philanthropic endeavors. We hope we’re as cool as Q when we hit 80. Or, you know, now.

Watch Quincy Jones’ Induction Video:

Also inducted into the rock hall was the late Donna Summer, rap supergroup Public Enemy, singer-songwriter Randy Newman, rock groups Heart and Rush, blues singer Albert King and producer Lou Adler. You can watch the televised induction ceremony on May 18 on HBO.

We are thrilled to congratulate 2009 Anisfield-Wolf winner Louise Erdrich on her win at the 2012 National Book Awards. She was awarded the prize for fiction, for her novel, Round House.

In her interview with the National Book Awards, she talked about whether she writes for her audience or for herself.

“My characters have my attention—trying to find them, understand them, think like them, feel what they would feel, behave on the page as they would,” she said. “And then there is the language—listening for what is unburdened by sentiment, trying to write something fearless. I usually write the books like secrets, as though nobody will read them.”

Read the whole interview here and join us in congratulating Ms. Erdrich!

We think it’s safe to say that 2012 is a great year for Junot Diaz.

He just released his third book to critical acclaim (and outright gratitude from the readers who wait years for new material). Now he can add being a MacArthur “genius” to his list of accomplishments.

Each year, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awards “genius grants” to individuals whose creativity and potential lends themselves to an investment in their future work. Each MacArthur Fellow (the formal name of the awards) receives $500,000 ($100,000 each year, spread over five years) to spend as they wish, in the pursuit of a new project.

Diaz was surprised with the award last month in Chicago and once the award was made public he wrote on his Facebook page to show his gratitude:

“Thanks to everyone who wrote a letter to make this happen. Thanks to all the teachers and librarians and booksellers who kept me in circulation through the long silences. Thanks to the beautiful readers who did the same. This honor belongs to my community, whose sacrifices and courage and yes genius made me possible. Gratitude without end.”

Diaz joins other Anisfield-Wolf award winners who have also been named MacArthur Fellow, including Annette Gordon-Reed, Arnold Rampersad, William Julius Wilson, and John Edgar Wideman.

Please join us in congratulating him on a job well done! 

Today, President Obama will present the 2011 National Medal of Arts to distinguished Anisfield-Wolf jury member Rita Dove. Ms. Dove will be honored for her contributions to American poetry.

Ms. Dove creates works that are equal parts beauty, lyricism, critique, and politics.  Ms. Dove has worked to create popular interest in the literary arts, serving as the United States’ youngest Poet Laureate and advocating on behalf of the diversity and vitality of American poetry and literature.

She has also won the National Humanities Medal, also being awarded today, becoming only the third person to have the honor of both medals. We send up a hearty round of congratulations to Ms. Dove!

We’re so pleased to share this bit of good news about Anisfield-Wolf jury member Joyce Carol Oates!

From Oregon State:

Joyce Carol Oates, celebrated author and National Book Award winner, will receive Oregon State University’s inaugural Stone Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement in May.

The biennial award is given to a major American author who has created a body of critically acclaimed work and who has – in the tradition of creative writing at OSU – been a dedicated mentor to young writers. The honorarium for the award is $20,000, making the new Stone Prize one of the most substantial awards for lifetime literary achievement offered by any university in the country.

The award will be presented to Oates at a special event at on Thursday, May 10, at thePortland Art Museum Fields Ballroom beginning at 7:30 p.m. OSU Distinguished Professor of English Tracy Daugherty will conduct an on-stage interview with Oates. A reception and book signing will follow. Tickets are available at:https://pam.spotlightboxoffice.com/purchase/step4?ticketID=63600

“Joyce Carol Oates is that rare literary figure who, over the course of an extraordinarily productive literary career, has also given generous attention and energy to young writers,” said Marjorie Sandor, director of the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at OSU. “Unflagging in her support for literary magazines and presses, she has enriched and enlivened our nation’s cultural life.”

Please join us in congratulating Joyce on this terrific accomplishment!