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Master of Magical Realism

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014)

One Hundred Years of SolitudeColumbian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez passed away Thursday at his home in Mexico City; he was 87. Famed for the use of a literary style known as magical realism, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. His fiction, while universal, was set in Latin America and melded magic with the mundane, creating storms that lasted for years and flowers that drifted from the sky. His masterwork, One Hundred Years of Solitude, published in 1967, about the rise and fall of generations of the Buendia family, echoed the history and political issues raging in South and Latin America at the time. He explained that magical realism sprang from the history of Latin America with its vicious dictators and romantic revolutionaries, and long years of hunger, illness and violence. One Hundred Years of Solitude sold millions of copies and established Garcia Marquez as a literary giant. Every new book became hotly anticipated, praised by critics and snapped up by readers, and he was able to live a very loveinthetimeofcholeradifferent lifestyle than that of his impoverished childhood. His influence cannot be overstated; "García Márquez mythologized the history of an entire continent, while at the same time creating a Rabelaisian portrait of the human condition as a febrile dream in which love and suffering and redemption endlessly cycle back on themselves on a Möbius strip in time." (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)

Great Michigan Read - Annie's Ghosts

Meet the Author                                     


Steve Luxenberg, author of Annie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Final-GMIR-logo-smlFamily Secret, will be speaking at several venues in the Metro Detroit area during the month of May as part of the continuing Great Michigan Read, the state-wide community read program sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council. Celebrate the success of this cultural program and join the discussion!


5/21 11:30AM The Jewish Community Center, West Bloomfield (fee)
5/21 7:00PM  The Holocaust Memorial Center, Farmington Hills
5/22 10:00AM  Westland Public Library
5/22 7:00PM  Rust Belt Market, Ferndale

All events, unless otherwise noted, are free of charge. For more information, see the Michigan Humanities Council website.


Pulitzer Time

The Goldfinch wins the Pulitzer Prize

goldfinchToday at 3pm, the Pulitzer Prize committee announced the winners of this year's prizes. Donna Tartt's well-reviewed novel, The Goldfinch made the grade in the fiction category. The Goldfinch has also been nominated for a National Book Critics Circle prize and an Andrew Carnegie Medal, and on Monday was in the top 40 on Amazon's best seller list even before the Pulitzer was announced. 

The novel tracks Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, who miraculously survives an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum that kills his mother and results in his unlikely possession of a Dutch masterwork called The Goldfinch. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to the picture, the one thing that reminds him of her. A coming-of-age tale and a mystery about a missing painting, the novel follows Theo on his journey to adulthood with unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense.


John Steinbeck's Classic

The Grapes of Wrath turns 75

gowOn April 14, a classic of American literature celebrates its 75th anniversary.  John Steinbeck's novel about the journey of a migrant Dust Bowl family seeking survival and justice on the road to California amid the hardships of Depression-era America was published in 1939. Steinbeck's purpose was to spotlight the plight of the "Okies" whose farms were lost to foreclosure due to drought and the disasterous effects of the Great Depression, and who found themselves homeless and on the road looking for jobs and futures. The Grapes of Wrath became a best-seller and went on to win the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Author John Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

A 75th Anniversay edition of the novel has been published and various celebrations are planned across the country. The National Steinbeck Center in Washington D.C. is commemorating Steinbeck's achievement on April 24 with a panel of authors and artists, and NPR is inviting everyone to read and discuss the book online on Monday, April 14.



National Library Week


Next week, PDL joins libraries in schools, campuses and communities nationwide in celebrating National Library Week, a time to highlight the value of libraries, librarians and library workers. First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

This year's theme is Lives change @ your library. How have we changed yours?


Peter Matthiessen (1927-2014)

Author, Environmentalist, Priest, Spy

inparadiseNoted author Peter Matthiessen passed away on Saturday, April 5, at the age of 86 from acute myeloid leukemia. He was the author of 33 books, fiction and non-fiction, the best known include Far Tortuga and At Play in the Fields of the Lord. His latest novel, In Paradise, will be released Tuesday; Matthiesen was the subject of an article in Sunday's New York Times Magazine written shortly before his death. Winner of National Book Awards for both fiction and non-fiction, Matthiessen, a naturalist, explored the destruction of nature and its indigenous peoples by modern man and industrialization in many of his works, stating, "No species but man, so far as is known, unaided by circumstances or climactic change, has ever extinguished another." Described in his New York Times obituary as "a man of many parts," Matthiessen was born to wealth, attended Yale, served a stint in the Navy, traveled widely to very remote places, co-founded the Paris Review while in Paris, spied for the CIA, and utlimately became a Buddhist priest.


PEN Awards

International PEN, the worldwide association of writers, was founded in 1921 to promote friendship and intellectual cooperation among writers everywhere; to emphasize the role of literature in the development of mutual understanding and world culture; to fight for freedom of expression; and to act as a powerful voice on behalf of writers harassed, imprisoned, and sometimes killed for their views.  PEN America Center, founded in 1922, is the U.S. branch of this worldwide organization and is the largest of the 144 PEN centers in 101 countries that together compose International PEN, with many regional chapters.  The PEN organization confers over $150,000 annually to writers in the fields of fiction, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, translation, drama, or poetry.

                                 Winner of the 2014 PEN/Hemingway Award for First Novel:

weneednewnamesWe Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
The unflinching and powerful story of a young girl's journey out of Zimbabwe and to America. Darling is only ten years old when her home is destroyed and her school is closed by the paramilitary police. She joins her aunt in America in search of this country's famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few. "As Bulawayo effortlessly captures the innate loneliness of those who trade the comfort of their own land for the opportunities of another, Darling emerges as the freshest voice yet to spring from the fertile imaginations of talented young writers... who explore the African diaspora in America." (Library Journal)  Bulawayo's novel was short-listed for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

Winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Fiction Prize:

weareallcompletelyWe Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. "I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee," she tells us. "She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister."  Rosemary was not yet six when Fern was removed. Over the years, she's managed to block a lot of memories but, with some guile, she guides us through the family secrets via a series of flashbacks. "Fowler's (The Jane Austen Book Club) great accomplishment is not just that she takes the standard story of a family and makes it larger, but that the new space she's created demands exploration" (Publishers Weekly)


Bestselling Cat

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

Guest Cat 158 237 c1 smart scaleSmall, indie publishing house, New Directions, has published classics and literary stars like Muriel Spark and Robert Bolano since its founding in 1936. But in February the publisher had its first book on one of the New York Times Bestseller lists with The Guest Cat, a slight novel translated from Japanese. The story, called a "small miracle" by NPR reviewer Juan Vidal, is about a busy, professional couple whose lives revolve around their work to the exclusion of almost everything else until they are adopted by a neighbor's cat. Chibi's antics captivate them and soon they are smitten. Following her outside, they begin to notice the world around them and rediscover life and each other. Author Hiraide admits the cat is "totally based" on his own cat, stating "Cats always present a profound riddle of life. They sway between wild nature and infant characteristics."


2014 Edgar Award Nominees

edgarallanpoeOn May 1, 2014, the Edgar Awards for Best Mystery fiction, named after (you guessed it) Edgar Allan Poe, will be presented to various winning authors for books written in 2013. Every spring, the Mystery Writers of America award prizes in several categories, such as Best Novel, Best First Novel, Best Short Story and so on. According to the MWA, "the Edgar is widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious award" honoring the best in the mystery/crime genre.



Nominees for Best Novel:

ordinary grace

Sandrine's Case by Thomas H. Cook
The Humans by Matt Haig
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin
Until She Comes Home by Lori Roy



Nominees for Best First Novel:


The Resurrectionist by Matthew Guinn
Ghostman by Roger Hobbs
Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight



Yee haw!

Spur Awards

The Western Writers of America recently announced the winners of the Spur Awards for distinguished writing about the American West. The WWA began in 1953, at the advent of the golden era of TV Western programming, and the Spur awards are given  for many  types of writing including novels, short fiction and nonfiction, biography, history, juvenile fiction and nonfiction, best TV or motion picture drama, best TV or motion picture documentary, and best first novel.

lightoftheworldBest Western Contemporary Novel:

Light of the World
by James Lee Burke




 Best Western Traditional Novel:  crossingpurgatory      

Crossing Purgatory by Gary Schanbacher




spiderwomansdaughterBest First Novel:

Spider Woman's Daughter by Anne Hillerman





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