Here’s the news you may have missed gathered in one handy, informative place.
By Carolyn Quimby | @CarolynQuimby, @WornBookSmell
On Tuesday, October 14, Australian author Richard Flanagan won the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Flanagan’s sixth novel, which took him 12 years to write, focuses on Dorrigo Evans’ experiences in a Japanese Prisoner-of-War camp along the Thailand-Burma railway. He is the third Australian to win the award, with this year marking the first time in the award’s 46-year history the decision to include entries from writers of all nationalities, writing originally in English and published in the UK.
And very early on Wednesday morning, the 2014 finalists for the 2014 National Book Awards were announced. They are as follows:
Fiction: Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman; Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See; Phil Klay, Redeployment; Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven; and Marilynne Robinson, Lila.
Non-fiction: Roz Chase, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?; Anand Gopal, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes; John Lahr, Tennessee William: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh; Evan Osnos, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China; and Edward O. Wilson, The Meaning of Human Existence.
Young People’s Literature: Eliot Schrefer, Threatened; Steve Sheinkin, The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights; John Corey Whaley, Noggin; Deborah Wiles, Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two; and Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming.
And while I tend to subscribe to Ron Swanson’s philosophy for awards/award shows (“Awards are stupid, but they’re less stupid when they go to the right people“), I still look forward to the long- and short- lists (and eventual winners) every. single. year.
One of my favorite blogs posts a list of what they see as the best movies about writers. As I was going through the list, I was surprised by how many I had seen or really how many I hadn’t seen. Of the 50 on the list? I have seen a whopping two in full. TWO. I won’t count those I have only seen in bits and pieces (here’s looking at you Shakespeare in Love and The Royal Tenenbaums).
While mildly surprised, I was not shocked because I have always preferred television to movies. Some of the films on the list sounded really great (I definitely want to check out Reprise and Kill Your Darlings) and others sounded pretty bad (aka any film starring Gwyneth Paltrow). However, if you’re a movie person, it’s an interesting list to sift through if you’ve ever wanted to spend some face-to-face time with Allen Ginsberg or Sylvia Plath.
3. …And the list that bothered me.
While internet surfing today, I stumbled across this headline:
The list, which features 39 books all written before 1980 (some way, way, way earlier), promises a more contemporary companion list to come. (Oh joy. I’m waiting breathlessly, I swear.) I will borrow from a beloved though often misunderstood movie for my next analogy:
Expectation: “a list of classics that can teach you how to think–about politics, love, philosophy, bravery–everything a man should know to face the world.”
Reality: the most mundane, boring, straight-forward, obvious, “I-just-got-my-BA-in-English-Lit” list.
Male writers writing about men for men. Men, men, men, as the famous feminist Jan Brady would say. Of 39 titles, there were 3 female writers. That’s 7.7% of the list. Of those 3 female writers, 0% of them are women of color.
Sure, the list features a few men of color–Egyptian, Nigerian, African–but for the most part they are white men. And the books on the list are outdated and no “modern gentlemen” would need to read them for any purpose other than adding a literary notch on his bedpost, I mean bookshelf.
What’s even more surprising is that two women wrote the article? Can’t we make lists that make “modern gentlemen” strive for more? To read authors from completely different cultures; who have lived lives they could never dream of and experience things they’d never want to dream of; to try to empathize with people whose voices are too often silenced.
You can learn about about what it means to be a “modern gentleman” by exploring anything outside of what you think it means to be a “modern gentleman,” guys and gals. Read broadly. Read more women and LGTBQI writers. Read outside of the Beat Generation, for the love of everything you hold dear. Read more than just Kerouac.