One of the most evocative images in The Book of Jonas is that of an orphaned baby gazelle being cared for by a lioness that has lost her cub. This unusual and dangerous relationship comes to symbolize that of two characters thrown together after a horrific bombing: teenaged Younis, who lived in the targeted village, and Christopher, a U.S. soldier who later vanishes. What ultimately becomes of these young men is pieced together through the efforts of Rose, Christopher’s mother, and the therapist who urges Younis to speak openly. Award-winning narrator Simon Vance adds dramatic weight to Stephen Dau’s powerful debut, giving empathetic voice to different perspectives as the story entwines past and present revelations.
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Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door –
Only this and nothing more.”
The opening to Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” is one of the most recognizable, atmospheric starts to a poem ever. Vincent Price is one of the most legendary horror actors ever. Put them together and a macabre beauty is made.
Congratulations to Hilary Mantel for making award history with her win of the 2012 Man Booker Prize, a prestigious literary honor that often has significant impact on popular reading. Bring Up the Bodies, the second installment in a planned Tudor trilogy, explores the fate of Anne Boleyn. The first book, Wolf Hall, won the Prize in 2009 and became an international bestseller. According to the selection committee, “her resuscitation of Thomas Cromwell – and with him the historical novel – is one of the great achievements of modern literature.” With this honor, Mantel becomes the first writer to win for a direct sequel, one of only three writers to win more than once, the first woman to win twice, the first British author to win twice, and the first to win again in so short a time.
The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2012 has been awarded to writer Mo Yan, “who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary.” One of his most recent novels, Big Breasts & Wide Hips, uses the story of a rural gynecologist to explore the ramifications of China’s single-child policy. Red Sorghum: A Novel of China, often credited as Yan’s best known book in the West, follows three generations of a family set during a turbulent time in the country’s history. The first Chinese author to be named as a Nobel laureate was lauded by the committee as one who has “created a world reminiscent in its complexity of those in the writings of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez, at the same time finding a departure point in old Chinese literature and in oral tradition.”
The PEN American Center, the U.S. branch of the world’s oldest international literary and human rights organization, has chosen the winners of the 2012 PEN Literary Awards. Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie won the Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography, and you can see the story brought to life by favorite book dramatist Barbara Rinella at MPPL on October 1.
Click here for category information and a complete list of winners. Highlights include
Robert W. Bingham Prize: Zazen by Vanessa Veselka
Achievement in American Fiction: E.L. Doctorow
Award for the Art of the Essay: Arguably by Christopher Hitchens
Literary Science Writing Award: The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick
Award for Literary Sports Writing: Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game by Dan Barry
Illustrated Children’s Book: Never Forgotten by Patricia C. McKissack
If you like the movie 300, about 300 Spartans fending off overwhelming hordes of the Persian army at the strait of Thermopylae, then you’ll probably enjoy the similarly-themed novel Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. But your ancient historical fiction reading spree doesn’t have to stop there…
Click here for more novels set in or tied to ancient Greece.
Sometimes a prickly exterior hides true refinement, and young Paloma suspects this may be true of Madame Michel, the concierge of her family’s luxury apartment building. This intrigues Paloma, and that’s unusual, especially since she is already weary of life’s pretensions and thinking of ending her life on her twelfth birthday. While she documents her final weeks and the empty hypocrisy of those around her, she realizes that Madame Michel may be a kindred spirit. The arrival of a new tenant, a Japanese gentleman, surprises both with new possibilities and deeper understanding. Based on the exquisite novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, The Hedgehog is a gentle, bittersweet ode to the treasures of the soul.
Hunter S. Thompson was known to shoot typewriters. Dorothy Parker drank more than she wrote. Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin’s relationship was equal parts eros and literature. There are even rumors that the Marquis de Sade wrote a manuscript in blood.
Click here for movies on the strange and passionate lives of famous writers.
The Modern Library listed Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, as the fourth best novel of the twentieth century. It explores a romance between Humbert, our middle-aged narrator, and a possibly sexually precocious pre-teen named Dolores.
Here’s Nabokov being interviewed on Close-Up, a Canadian Broadcasting Coroporation show, about his controversial novel.
Just in time to highlight great listens for summer reading, the winners of the 2012 Audie Awards have been announced! Honoring the year’s best recordings in a rich mix of categories, these awards are a perfect source of listening suggestions while traveling on vacation, basking in the sun, or making everyday routines more exciting. Try one of the most recent winners below or sample past Audiobooks of the Year. Need more incentive? Don’t forget that listening to an audiobook counts as reading in our Summer Reading Program!
Audiobook of the Year: Bossypants by Tina Fey
Biography/Memoir: Bossypants by Tina Fey
Fantasy: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Humor: Shatner Rules by William Shatner with Chris Regan
Literary Fiction: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Multi-Voiced Performance: A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
Mystery: Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke
Narration by the Author: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Personal Development: Prime Time by Jane Fonda
Romance: New York to Dallas by J.D. Robb
Thriller/Suspense: The Nightmare Thief by Meg Gardiner