Sefi, Edwidge, Annie, Ursula: Contemporary Authors at PPL
Annotation:"The problem with English is this: You usually can't open your mouth and it comes out just like that--first you have to think what you want to say. Then you have to find the words. Then you have to carefully arrange those words in your head. Then you have to say the words quietly to yourself, to make sure you got them okay. And finally, the last step, which is to say the words out loud and have them sound just right." NoViolet's story "Hitting Budapest," the opening chapter of "We Need New Names," won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing. NoViolet's other work has been shortlisted for the 2009 SA PEN Studzinsi Award, and has appeared in Callaloo, The Boston Review, Newsweek, and The Warwick Review, as well as in anthologies in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the UK.
Annotation:"[Love] walks up to you, and when it does, you need to recognize it for what it is and, perhaps more important, for what it might become.” Known for blending realism and fantasy in her fiction, Alice Hoffman often creates richly detailed characters who live on society's margins and places them in extraordinary situations as she did with At Risk, her 1988 novel about the AIDS crisis. Her other works include The Drowning Season, Seventh Heaven, The River King, Blue Diary, Practical Magic, The Probable Future, The Ice Queen, and The Dovekeepers.
Annotation:Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the few writers whose works (which include poetry and short fiction) can be found in public libraries' collections for children, young adults, and adults. Le Guin's published works include a novel, A Wizard of Earthsea, that won an American Library Association Notable Book citation, a Horn Book Honor List citation, and the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1979. She has been nominated several times for the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award--the highest honors in science fiction/fantasy writing--and has won both awards. Her Earthsea Trilogy is a mainstay of libraries' fantasy fiction collections.
Annotation:“She told me her father taught her to live life way beyond the cusp of it, way out in the outer reaches where most people never had the guts to go, where you got hurt. Where there was unimaginable beauty and pain ... They were always reminding themselves to stop measuring life in coffee spoons, mornings and afternoons, to keep swimming way, way down to the bottom of the ocean to find where the mermaids sang, each to each. Where there was danger and beauty and light. Only the now.” Marisha Pessl is also the author of the best-selling debut novel "Special Topics in Calamity Physics."
Annotation:Joan Didion has published novels, short stories, social commentary, and essays. Her work often comments on social disorder. She is well known for "The White Album," "Play It as It Lays," and "The Year of Magical Thinking." In 2007, Didion received the National Book Foundation's annual Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. On July 3, 2013 the White House announced Didion was one of the recipients of the National Medals of Arts and Humanities presented by President Barack Obama.
Annotation:Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has been awarded two PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Awards, a Pushcart Prize, and the Allen Ginsberg Poerty Prize. Divakaruni's books include Arranged Marriage and The Mistress of Spices. Her Title One Amazing Thing made The New York Times Best Seller List. (Bowker Author Biography) Chitra Divakaruni is the author of the bestselling novels "The Mistress of Spices" & "Sister of My Heart", the story collection "Arranged Marriage", which won several awards, including the American Book Award, & four collections of poetry.
Annotation:Dina Nayeri was born in the middle of a revolution in Iran and moved to Oklahoma at age ten. Her debut novel, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea, was released in 2013 by Riverhead Books (Penguin) and translated in 14 foreign languages. Her work is published in over 20 countries and has been recognized by Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers, Best American Short Stories, Best American Non-required Reading, Granta New Voices, and The Center for Fiction (Flaherty Dunnan prize long list).
Annotation:“The summation of Shepard’s character by the council at the Crown Hotel had been as critical as Lauderback’s had been sympathetic—which only showed, Moody thought, that a man ought never to trust another man’s evaluation of a third man’s disposition.” Eleanor Catton's second novel and winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
Annotation:“The key to life," he told me once, "is to avoid the highs and the lows. It's the peaks and valleys that mess you up.” Tayari Jones is also the author of "Leaving Atlanta," and "The Untelling," and the winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction.
Annotation:Emma Donoghue was born on October 24, 1969 in Dublin, Ireland. She received her BA degree from the University College Dublin and PhD in English from University of Cambridge. Her novel "Hood" won the 1997 American Library Association's Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Book Award for Literature. Her novel Slammerkin was a finalist in the 2001 Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Fiction. The Sealed Letter, published in 2008, was the joint winner of the 2009 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction. Her novel "Room" was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Annotation:“For my true thoughts have spent more time in your company than in anyone else's, these last two or three months, and where my thoughts are, there am I, in truth.” A.S. Byatt (Antonia Susan Byatt) is internationally known for her novels and short stories. Her novels include the Booker Prize-winning Possession, The Biographer’s Tale, The Children's Book, and her highly acclaimed collections of short stories include Sugar and Other Stories, The Matisse Stories, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye, and Elementals.
Annotation:“She says the lesson to learn is that the world is round, which means that if I run too fast I might end up chasing the very homeland I am running from.” Sefi Atta is the winner of PEN International's 2004/2005 David TK Wong Prize. In 2006, her debut novel "Everything Good Will Come" was awarded the inaugural Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. Her short story collection, "Lawless," received the 2009 Noma Award For Publishing in Africa.
Annotation:“They were doers and thinkers and lovers and seekers and givers, but dreamers, most dangerously of all. They were dreamer-women. Very dangerous women. Who looked at the world through their wide dreamer-eyes and saw it not as it was, "brutal, senseless," etc., but worse, as it might be or might yet become. So, insatiable women. Un-pleasable women.”
Annotation:“Once Henry had heard a crying noise at sea, and had seen a mermaid floating on the ocean's surface. The mermaid had been injured by a shark. Henry had pulled the mermaid out of the water with a rope, and she had died in his arms...'What language did the mermaid speak?' Alma wanted to know, imagining that it like almost have to be Greek. 'English!' Henry said. 'By God, plum, why would I rescue a deuced foreign mermaid?' Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Stern Men," returns to fiction with an extraordinary historical novel of independence, adventure, boldness, botany, and the learning that takes a lifetime.
Annotation:“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.” Dorothy Allison's powerful novel, "Bastard Out of Carolina," was a National Book Award finalist. Allison has also published a collection of essays titled "Skin: Talking About Sex, Class and Literature." "Two or Three Things I Know For Sure" (1995) is a short memoir in which she used text and family photographs. "Cavedweller" is an epic novel that chronicles the lives of four strong women in the difficult terrain of small town Georgia.
Annotation:"Well—I have to say I personally have never drawn such a sharp line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as you. For me: that line is often false. The two are never disconnected. One can’t exist without the other. As long as I am acting out of love, I feel I am doing best I know how. But you—wrapped up in judgment, always regretting the past, cursing yourself, blaming yourself, asking ‘what if,’ ‘what if.’ ‘Life is cruel.’ ‘I wish I had died instead of.’ Well—think about this..." An orphan, New York, Art, and all things underbelly: "The Secret History" author Donna Tartt is back with her first novel in eleven years.
Annotation:“The beam of light flashed across her own face and she thought, Yes, me, Khady Demba, still happy to utter her name silently and to sense its apt harmony with the precise, satisfying image she had of her own features and of the Khady heart that dwelled within her to which no one but she had access.” Marie NDiaye tackles complex relationships: Senegal and France, women and men, the individual in society. "Trois Femmes Puissantes" (here in translation by John Fletcher) won the Prix Goncourt for French Literature in 2009.
Annotation:Kathryn Davis is an award-winning American novelist. She is a recipient of the Kafka Prize, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1999, a 2000 Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction in 2006. She is the author of the novels "Labrador," "The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf," "Hell," "Versailles," "The Walking Tour," and "The Thin Place."
Annotation:“Nearly every morning, a certain woman in our community comes running out of her house with her face white and her overcoat flapping wildly. She cries out, "Emergency, emergency," and one of us runs to her and holds her until her fears are calmed. We know she is making it up; nothing is has really happened to her. But we understand, because there is hardly one of us who has no been moved at some time to do just what she has done, and every time, it has taken all our strength, and even the strength of our friends and families, too, to keep us quiet.” Lydia Davis is a translator and noted author of several very short story collections, including "Samuel Johnson is Indignant" and "Varieties of Disturbance."
Annotation:Sahar Khalifeh was born in the West Bank city of Nablus in 1941 and is the author of eight novels. A former Fulbright scholar, she holds a B.A. from Bir Zeit University, and a Ph.D. in women's studies and American literature from the University of Iowa. She divides her time between Amman and Nablus. Aida Bamia is professor of Arabic language and literature at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She is the editor of Al-'Arabiyya, the journal of the American Association of Teachers ofArabic, and the author of The Graying of the Raven: Cultural and Sociopolitical Significance of Algerian Folk Poetry (AUC Press 2001).
Annotation:Among Anita Desai's many published works are "Fasting, Feasting" (a finalist for the 1999 Booker Prize), "Baumgartner's Bombay," "In Custody," "Games at Twilight," & "Diamond Dust." Her awards & honors include the Alberto Moravia Award, the National Academy of Letters Award, & the Winifred Holtby Prize of the Royal Society of Literature. Anita Desai is also the mother of the author Kiran Desai, who wrote "The Inheritance of Loss."
Annotation:“I will tell you something about stories . . . They aren't just entertainment. Don't be fooled. They are all we have, you see, all we have to fight off illness and death.” Leslie Marmon Silko was born in 1948 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Growing up on a reservation, she went to Bureau of Indian Affairs schools before attending the University of New Mexico. She taught at the Navajo Community College in Arizona and is a professor of English at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Marmon has written short stories, poetry, plays and novels. Her books include Laguna Woman, Ceremony and Yellow Woman. "Ceremony" is considered a modern classic.
Annotation:“The truth isn't always beauty, but the hunger for it is.” Nadine Gordimer is a South African writer well-known for her work examining race, prejudice, complex relationships, culture, identity, and the personal political. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991.
Annotation:“Now, see, that's why you want Internet friends. You can find people just exactly like you. Screw your neighbors and your family, too messy...the trouble is, once you filter out everybody that doesn't agree with you, all that's left is maybe this one retired surfer guy living in Idaho.” Barbara Kingsolver is the best-selling author of "Animal Dreams," "The Bean Trees," "Prodigal Summer," "The Poisonwood Bible," and works of nonfiction, including "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." Her work often focuses on topics such as social justice, biodiversity, and the interaction between humans and their communities and environments.
Annotation:“Physics advances by accepting absurdities. Its history is one of unbelievable ideas proving to be true.” Rivka Galchen (born 1976) is a Canadian-American writer and physician. Her first novel, Atmospheric Disturbances, was published in 2008. She currently is an adjunct professor in the writing division of Columbia University's School of Art. In 2010, she was chosen as one of the 20 best writers under 40 by The New Yorker.
Annotation:“Love so sprang at her, she honestly thought no one had ever looked into it. Where was it in literature? Someone would have written something. She must not have recognized it. Time to read everything again.” Annie Dillard was born Annie Doak in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on April 30, 1945. She received a B.A and an M.A. in English from Hollins College. She writes both fiction and nonfiction books including Tickets for a Prayer Wheel, Holy the Firm, Teaching a Stone to Talk, The Living, and Mornings Like This: Found Poems. She won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
Annotation:“For if Jack Buggit could escape from the pickle jar, if a bird with a broken neck could fly away, what else might be possible? Water may be older than light, diamonds crack in hot goat's blood, mountaintops give off cold fire, forests appear in mid-ocean, it may happen that a crab is caught with the shadow of a hand on its back, and that the wind be imprisoned in a bit of knotted string. And it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain or misery.” Edna Annie Proulx is an American journalist and author. Her second novel, The Shipping News (1993), won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for fiction in 1994. Her short story "Brokeback Mountain" was adapted as an Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe Award-winning major motion picture released in 2005. Brokeback Mountain received massive critical acclaim and went on to be nominated for a leading eight Academy Awards, winning three of them. She won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for her first novel, Postcards.
Annotation:“The subjects range from the pastoral (sniffing of the butt of a melon to tell if it's ripe. and almost romantically lush descriptions of lightening storms sweeping across fields on summer nights) to elaborations on the value of man's having a life of his own, apart from whatever life he has with his family, a private life that no one knows anything about, "a place he can be himself without concern of disappointment or rejection".” A.M. Homes (first name Amy) is the author of the novels, This Book Will Save Your Life, Music For Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, and Jack, as well as the short-story collections, Things You Should Know and The Safety of Objects, the travel memoir, Los Angeles: People, Places and The Castle on the Hill, and the artist's book Appendix A: An Elaboration on the Novel the End of Alice. Her work has been translated into eighteen languages.
Annotation:“To live your life even half right seems extraordinary.” Cristina Garcia's first novel, Dreaming in Cuban, was a nominee for a National Book award. She has received a Guggenheim Scholarship, a Hodder fellowship from Princeton, and a Whiting Writers' Award.
Annotation:“So much had fallen into the sea. Hats fell in to the sea. Hearts fell into the sea. So much had fallen into the sea.” Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when she was twelve. She is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah Book Club selection; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; and The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner. She is also the editor of The Butterfly's Way: Voices from the Haitian Dyaspora in the United States and The Beacon Best of 2000: Great Writing by Men and Women of All Colors and Cultures.
Annotation:"My craziest Francophile moment came when I found myself making these gigantic maps of the Paris neighborhoods covered in my novel. I used indelible markers on poster board in my little rabbit warren of an office on the third floor of our old house, and I tried to recreate the streets that Willie and Macon walked on in Paris. These hand-scrawled maps were my blue print of the city. They’re almost illegible but they gave me access to the parts of the city I really had to make sure the novel rendered fully. I needed to make the maps to feel like I was there in Paris. Then I knew that the reader would (hopefully!) feel like they were there too." -Local author Susan Conley, on the craft of writing "Paris Was the Place."