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Imbolo Mbue Heads to SUNY Schenectady

Courtesy of The Daily Gazette
Posted September 15, 2019

Sometimes, a book’s meaning depends on its readers, and the time period in which they read it. 

Imbolo Mbue, who is slated to visit SUNY Schenectady on Thursday, is perhaps even more aware of this than other authors. 

Her debut novel “Behold the Dreamers,” deals with timely topics of immigration, socio economic issues and, of course, the idea of the American Dream. 

“This is a very well-written book. It’s a beautiful read, an inspiring read. . . It is so relevant to what we are going through at a national level. The divisions that are being created, the tensions that exist and this book is written for a time such as this,” said Steady H. Moono, president of SUNY Schenectady.  

However, when Mbue set out to write it shortly after the financial crisis, writing a timely book was the last thing on her mind. She was more interested in telling the story of Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant and taxi driver for Clark Edwards, a top executive at Lehman Brothers, the famed investment banking company. 

“People analyze this book from many different angles, [they say] ‘It’s about the American dream or it’s about immigration, it’s about class.’ I was not interested in that; I wasn’t out to write a book about immigration or class, I was out tell the story of people and how these people’s lives were affected by this huge socioeconomic event. It was just important to me that I tell their story,” Mbue said. 

And tell their story she did. 

Continue Reading….

Jarrett J. Krosoczka's HEY, KIDDO Featured for One Book, One Region!

Courtesy of: The Day
Posted September 13, 2019

The 17th "One Book One Region Eastern Connecticut" initiative concludes with a Tuesday appearance at New London's Connecticut College by this year's honoree/author/artist Jarrett J. Krosoczka. He was selected for his graphic memoir "Hey, Kiddo — How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction."

One Book One Region Eastern Connecticut aims to unite citizens of all demographics to discuss ideas and society through books and literature. Previous selections and authors include Pete Hamill ("Snow in August)," Khaled Hosseini ("The Kite Runner"), Yaa Gyasi ("Homegoing"), David Benioff ("City of Thieves"), Tori McClure ("A Pearl in the Storm"), and Reyna Grande ("Across a Hundred Mountains").

Since "Hey, Kiddo" was introduced as this year's choice, dozens of libraries, schools, book clubs and social organizations have participated in discussing the work.

"Hey, Kiddo" is the beautifully and poignantly written and illustrated account — often humorous, frequently sad — of Krosoczka's childhood, when he was raised in Worcester, Mass., by his grandparents while his mother struggled with heroin addiction. For years, all the young man knew, though, was that his mom was an affectionate but very infrequent presence in his life. Instead, his grandparents, who had several grown children of their own, provided love, comfort and support — albeit in a distinctively "old school" fashion typical of their own upbringing during the hard times of the Depression.

Krosoczka also had no idea who is father was for years. As "Hey, Kiddo" develops, the author uses flashback revelations to provide answers and context — a particularly effective way of conveying his own confusion and an ongoing sense of vague unease despite the security and reliability found through his grandparents, their home and the relationships with his aunts and uncles.

The most important development in his childhood was a fascination with and dedication to the craft of drawing. While certainly accepted in the school environment, Krosoczka's exploration of art, and the encouragement of his teachers and family, provided a life-force of creativity and expression that ultimately resulted in an enormously successful career.

Krosoczka was a well-established author illustrator of children's books and a husband and father of two young children when he finally decided to write "Hey, Kiddo." He's published more than 30 books including his Lunch Lady graphic novels. He's a two-time winner of the Children's Choice Book Awards Third to Fourth Grade Book of the Year and has been a finalist for the prestigious Will Eisner Comic Industry Award and National Book Awards 2018 for Young People's Literature. Krosoczka lives with his family in western Massachusetts and, earlier this week by email, answered a few questions about "Hey, Kiddo," his career, and the One Book One Region honor. Answers have been edited for clarity and space.

Read Jarrett’s Q&A with Rick Koster here!

Madeline Miller to visit Butler University

Courtesy of The Butler Collegian
September 3, 2019

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Madeline Miller, award-winning author of two New York Times bestselling novels, will be visiting Butler University on Sept. 9 as the first guest of the 2019-20 Visiting Writers Series. Miller will be discussing her novels in the Shelton Auditorium on South Campus. 

Two of Miller’s novels, “The Song of Achilles” and “Circe,” have received critical acclaim. “The Song of Achilles” was awarded the 2012 Women’s Prize for Fiction and was named the Massachusetts Must-Read of 2013. 

“Circe” is being adapted for a television series for HBO Max and was named to “books to read” lists in Cosmopolitan, Southern Living, Esquire, The Boston Globe and more. It also earned her the Red Tentacle Award, the 2018 Elle Big Book Award and the American Library Association Alex Award.

Kaylee Tenbarge, a first-year engineering major, is a student in the Visiting Writers Series first-year seminar class. Tenbarge and her classmates are reading “Circe” in anticipation of the author’s visit.

“I’ve read one of her other books, so I’m expecting [“Circe”] to be more young adult style,” Tenbarge said. “Descriptive, but not with super difficult language.”

Miller was also short-listed for the 2012 Stonewall Writer of the Year. She has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Classics from Brown University.

Miller’s novels take age-old Greek mythology and shine new light on its characters. Her novels have been published in over 25 languages.

She is also the author of a multitude of essays, reviews and short fiction. Her work has been featured in the likes of The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and NPR.

Admission to this event is free and open to the public. Miller’s presentation also counts as a Butler Cultural Requirement.

Jennine Capó Crucet and Post-Trump Latinx Literature

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Find Renee Hudson’s thoughtful and nuanced review of Jennine Capó Crucet’s My Time Among the Whites below as she explores the book’s intrinsic connection to and conversation with what the reviewer is calling the Post-Trump era of Latinx Literature. This review pairs well with Crucet’s own writing. An excerpt from her memoir can be found in the “Books” section of the September 3 issue of The Atlantic.

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Review of Books
September 3, 2019

IN THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS, a new trend has emerged that can best be described as post-Trump Latinx literature. By “post-Trump,” I mean a nascent body of literature that critiques Trump and the ideology he represents, a counter-archive to the white supremacy that dominates the news. As Latinx authors contend with Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric, which casts all immigrants as Mexicans and all Mexicans as criminals, this work has been a site of resistance, of hope, of sorrow.

This still-forming canon began with two interstitial entries, Javier Zamora’s Unaccompanied (2017) and Valeria Luiselli’s Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions (2017), both of which straddle the shift from the Obama to the Trump administrations. While Zamora’s collection begins with the day Obama was first elected, he also includes a poem “To President-Elect” — Zamora leaves him unnamed — that marks the recent regime change. Meanwhile, Luiselli’s book, preoccupied with the 2014 refugee crisis that saw an increase in unaccompanied minors from Central America coming to the United States, ends with a coda that describes the shock of a Trump presidency and the glimmers of hope she finds in groups advocating for immigrants’ rights. José Olivarez’s Citizen Illegal, published in 2018, similarly explores this tension between terror and hope. In the most direct reference to life under Trump, “I Walk into Every Room & Yell Where The Mexicans At,” he captures the anxiety that the speaker — and Latinxs as a whole — feel among ostensibly liberal white women who we all suspect actually voted for Trump.

The post-Trump canon flourished in 2019, with the publication of Natalie Scenters-Zapico’s Lima :: Limón and Carmen Giménez Smith’s Be Recorder. Scenters-Zapico includes a poem, “Notes on My Present: A Contrapuntal,” that is split in two. The poem on the left side of the page explores the violence of empire while the poem on the right concatenates Trump’s June 16, 2015, presidential announcement — in which he calls Mexicans rapists — along with other statements he’s made about Latinxs (though he calls us “Hispanics”). Finally, Be Recorder offers an extended meditation on what it means to be “American” and challenges the United States’s arrogance in assuming exclusive use of the term.

Jennine Capó Crucet’s essay collection My Time Among the Whites (2019) is a remarkable entry within this formidable body of work. While Capó Crucet and Luiselli share an interest in the essay form, their books could not be more different. Luiselli structures Tell Me How It Ends around an intake questionnaire for immigrants. The questions detail the arduous journey Central American children take to get to the United States and the legal challenges they face while here. But Luiselli also demonstrates how the questions fail to meaningfully capture immigrants’ experiences. Capó Crucet’s book, by contrast, is an interrogation of the American Dream, of American myths, and the whiteness that undergirds it all. My Time Among the Whites is also a thoughtful exploration of what it means to be a first-generation college student, a child of immigrants, and a professor to boot. While in Tell Me How It Ends, Trump emerges at the end of the book, an addendum to what came before, in My Time Among the Whites, his presence permeates the collection. More than that, the racism and white supremacist structures that led to his rise inform Capó Crucet’s exploration of what it means to be Latinx in the time of Trump.

Like Carmen Giménez Smith’s Be Recorder, My Time Among the Whites considers how Miss America/Miss USA reflect the American Dream. For Giménez Smith, Miss America emerges as a representative of the United States. For Jennine Capó Crucet, Miss USA, the pageant organization formerly owned by Trump, is intimately tied with her birth, as her parents named her after the 1980 Miss USA runner-up, Jineane Ford. As she explains, her parents “thought that giving their American child a distinctly ethnic name came with unfair, quantifiable consequences.” Thus her naming is not just an act of assimilation, but also of passing, an intentional decision to remove ethnic barriers to their child’s success. Yet, as she heartbreakingly explains, the innovative spelling her parents chose “always flags for certain people — people looking for it — as a marker of my parents’ immigrant status, their alterations betraying the reason they went with that name in the first place.” Even as she makes the distinction between the sound of her name and its spelling, her description of her parents imagined choices gently pokes fun of them and, more importantly, of the English language, demonstrating that ultimately, she is on their side: “[W]hat is that ah sound doing in there anyway?” she writes. And really, who wouldn’t agree?

As Capó Crucet’s naming suggests, My Time Among the Whites explores the tension between immigrants’ culture and the American Dream, especially since, as the essays demonstrate so painfully, the American Dream wasn’t designed with immigrants (or people of color more generally) in mind. Growing up in Hialeah, the predominantly Cuban American city that she writes about in How to Leave Hialeah (2009), she reflects on the important role Disney World played in her life. As an adult, however, much of the magic of Disney is gone. What was once a site of pleasure becomes something more than a guilty pleasure — it becomes another site of analysis, another reinforcement of hegemonic beliefs. Describing her experience going to Disney World for her birthday, she observes, “During the days you spend in the parks, Disney will pretend you are white, American, cisgender, and straight, and everyone and everything around you will pander to and assert this understanding of the Disney fantasy.” The fantasy of Disney reveals itself to be a fantasy of whiteness, of privilege. This perhaps should not come as a surprise, but part of the magic of the Magic Kingdom is surely that one will not notice the differential treatment they receive inside and outside the park.

While such moments of analysis can take the reader out of the memoir-like moments of the book — and thus the illusion that we’re simply reading autobiographical stories — Capó Crucet’s analysis is exactly why My Time Among the Whites is vital reading for Trumpian times. As her collection demonstrates, these days the everyday aspects of growing up in the United States, of growing up American, all carry within them an overwhelming sense of foreboding. They underline our complicity, the ways we have internalized white supremacy and use it as a benchmark to measure our successes and failures.

Capó Crucet’s most extended meditation on Trump and immigration occurs in her most anxiety-producing chapter, “Going Cowboy.” There, she describes moving to Nebraska and signing up to learn how to herd cattle on a ranch. She describes how Fox News was the channel of choice in the rancher’s home, how the rancher rants “about Mexicans getting free passes into the United States.” This incident causes Capó Crucet to reflect on the rancher’s comment and point out:

[T]hat there is a Latinx group that, at the time, did benefit from that kind of special treatment. That privilege, which could be described as a free pass to citizenship, had been extended (for many years and for many complex reasons) to Cubans. Meaning, to my parents. The rancher had no idea that the manifestation of one of his greatest fears — the American-born child of these immigrants who were taking everything, everything — was sitting at his dinner table.

Here, she refers to the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, which allowed any Cuban who entered US waters to apply for residency after living in the United States for a year (this policy was later revised in 1995 to only apply to dry land, thus the name “wet foot, dry foot”). In making this oblique reference, Capó Crucet emphasizes the asymmetrical privileges afforded to some immigrants over others, particularly from Latin America. Reading her words, “the American-born child of these immigrants who were taking everything, everything,” I couldn’t help but think about the cruel joke that makes her the manifestation of nativist fears: an associate professor, a successful writer, a person committed to her community. But of course, this is the actual fear — that immigrants and their children will be more successful than their white peers, demonstrating that having all the privileges and advantages in life does not make one successful. The fear is of excellence, not crime.

In moments like this, Capó Crucet’s clear-eyed examination of whiteness demonstrates that Trump isn’t what ails us; he’s the symptom, not the disease. This becomes particularly clear in her deft analysis of Latinxs’ conflicted relationship with whiteness — a relationship that demonstrates our complicity in the systems that oppress us. In Latin America and among Latinxs, lighter skin is still valued over darker skin, an idea expressed by the term “mejorar la raza” or “improve the race,” which generally refers to marrying someone with lighter skin to further whiten the subsequent children and thus, future generations. In My Time Among the Whites, Capó Crucet explores what it means to “a kind of white” as well as “to realize that I was not white.” In her telling, her whiteness reveals itself in moments of privilege: when she doesn’t consider demographic information in making a decision, when she doesn’t immediately realize that an all-white space may not be a safe one.

The moments when the differences between Cuban American whiteness and white American whiteness come up span a range of experiences, from having to explain why she won’t get a sunburn on her ears to learning that dancing is a dead giveaway for her Latinx roots. Yet, even as she discusses the elision between the American Dream and whiteness — through her name, through Disney World, through light skin — Capó Crucet carefully points out that Cuban American whiteness is an illusion of whiteness, at least in this America. Of the 2016 election, she remarks, of her parents and their generation,

They didn’t realize that not voting — the ultimate gesture of complacency — was a privilege they didn’t actually have: It only felt that way because they lived in Miami, a place where it was easy to think, if you were Cuban, that you were white and therefore not part of the immigrant groups Trump was making a campaign out of promising to deport.

As she notes above and as all Latinxs know: When Trump and other white supremacists name a specific Latinx group, they really mean all of us. It doesn’t matter if the group is Mexican or Guatemalan, citizen or non-citizen, criminal or non-criminal — when Trump refers to any of us, he refers to all of us.

In My Time Among the Whites, and in what I’m calling post-Trump Latinx literature, the 2016 election emerges as a flashpoint that highlights, on the one hand, the specific complicity between Latinxs and white supremacy, and, on the other hand, how Latinx authors are building a resistance canon. According to The New York Times, 29 percent of Latinxs voted for Trump. While that might not seem like much, especially considering that 27 percent of Latinxs voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, it is surprising because Trump built his platform on explicitly anti-Latinx policies. As Capó Crucet points out, many Latinxs didn’t vote at all; as I can attest, some of us have family members who did vote, but voted for Trump. Within these complex dynamics, My Time Among the Whites emerges as a salve. It incisively traces the ideologies that led to Trump, such as the American Dream, and indicts our adherence to these ideologies, many of which are deeply internalized. None of us are blameless, but when Capó Crucet writes, of predominantly white campuses, “[t]his place never imagined you here, and your exclusion was a fundamental premise in its initial design,” she’s also writing about the United States writ large. We may always be among the whites, but as post-Trump Latinx literature demonstrates, we can resist a world that privileges whiteness. And we must use the time while we still have it.

A|U Monthly Muse - September 2019 (Remembering 9/11)

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SEPTEMBER 2019 - Remembering 9/11

9/11 was a horrific moment in American history. Unsurprisingly, the losses and repercussions of the day's terrorist attacks continue to shape the national consciousness, almost two decades later.

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New York Times bestselling author Mitchell Zuckoff was part of a Pulitzer-Prize nominated Boston Globe team that provided much-needed information in that uncertain time – he wrote the lead news story on the day of the attacks and continued 9/11 coverage thereafter. Fall and Rise, The Story of 9/11, is Zuckoff’s 2019 book, an epic portrayal of a terrible day. With an unflinching eye and devotion to detail, he not only recounts the horrors of 9/11, he likewise captures what else became evident that day: even during disaster, the strength of the human spirit persists.

2021 will mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11. It will be a time to celebrate the lives of those we lost and those who came to the rescue. It will also be a time to explore the myriad ways the events of that day have re-shaped the American identity. What better way to approach this conversation than to invite Mitchel Zuckoff into your community? Book now for fall 2021 events.

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If you are looking for more hard-hitting nonfiction that unabashedly tackles difficult subject matter, look no further than these authors. In their own unique way, each serves up hope and ideas for change alongside the challenges they document: Elizabeth Rush, Lynne Olson, Jennine Capó Crucet, Laurie Halse Anderson, PW Singer.

Stacey Lee's Newest Novel - Coming of Age Amid A Limbo of Prejudice and Restriction

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Courtesy of The New York TImes
Posted Aug 13, 2019

It’s fairly common knowledge that Chinese immigrants helped build the American railroads in the 19th century. But it’s not so widely known that Chinese laborers were shipped in by Southern plantation owners to replace emancipated slaves after the Civil War. As the number of Chinese on American soil increased, resentment against these immigrants grew proportionately, and in 1882 Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act under President Chester A. Arthur. It was the first American law to restrict immigration, and the only one ever to target a specific national group. It wasn’t repealed until 1943.

One direct result of this legislation was that it wasn’t possible for wives or other family members to join the Chinese already living in the United States. Most were men working as cheap labor, and they struggled to integrate with mainstream American society. Neither black nor white, they inhabited a murky middle ground that often excluded them from both sides of America’s racial divide. In THE DOWNSTAIRS GIRL Stacey Lee breathes vivid life into a heroine and narrator named Jo Kuan, an American-born Chinese teenager who comes of age in this limbo of prejudice and restriction in Atlanta in 1890.

At 17 Jo has been raised by an aging Chinese stable hand, Old Gin, who lives with her in a hidden basement apartment originally built as a station on the Underground Railroad. Concerned that the family who edit and print a local newspaper in the house upstairs will be evicted if their subscriptions don’t increase, and worried that a new tenant might threaten her own domestic situation, Jo attempts to save the newspaper by writing a series of “agony aunt” letters and responses — many of them provocatively and purposefully controversial — under the pseudonym “Miss Sweetie.”

This alter ego gives Jo a voice and an outlet for exploring the host of issues facing her: racial bias, the introduction of the Jim Crow laws, women’s suffrage and emancipation, and the need to earn a living. Miss Sweetie’s persona also gives Jo the courage and ingenuity she needs to navigate a variety of emotional challenges. She loses her job designing hats because she’s a “saucebox” who riles some of her boss’s customers; she’s falling in love but has to keep it secret; she grapples with her work as maid to a fickle and fretful Southern belle who’s been a lifetime frenemy; she’s gradually uncovering the secrets connected with her own past. It’s a complicated plot with a whiff of mystery about it, even tragedy, all as deftly woven as one of Jo’s elegant hair braids or hat knots.

The Downstairs Girl holds a mirror to our present issues while giving us a detailed and vibrant picture of life in the past. There are two sides to every story — or more than two — and it’s easy to focus on the heroes, or the villains, when we look back at our history. Lee’s superpower is the way she adds shadow and contour to the picture. Read more…

Sweet Briar's Common Read is a Conversation Between Two Books, "Across Thousands of Years"

Courtesy of Sweet Briar College
Posted Aug 12, 2019

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Sweet Briar College’s Common Read selection for the 2019-2020 academic year features not one book, but a pair of books “in dynamic and rich conversation with one another across thousands of years,” says Director of the Center for Creativity, Design and the Arts Carrie Brown. They are Madeline Miller’s No. 1 New York Times best-selling novel Circe — about the legendary sorceress and goddess who (among other things) turns men into pigs in “The Odyssey” — and Emily Wilson’s celebrated translation of The Odyssey, the first English translation by a woman.

The writers will visit campus and bookend the year: Madeline Miller on Thursday, Nov. 7, and Emily Wilson on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Their presentations are free and open to the public.

“Both books are full of magic and mystery and monsters and morality,” Brown says. “They delve into the classical story of Odysseus’s return from the Trojan War with fresh insights about the experiences of women once seen only in the shadows of the famous epic.” Both have been praised for their language, she notes, as well their “visionary perspective and imaginative reach,” which makes them not just great works of literature, but also fun to read. And in both, Brown adds, “women emerge as modern, sympathetic and formidable figures in a literary and cultural landscape once dominated by a focus on the male experience.”

Schlow's Author Spotlight will Feature Jamie Ford, Madeline Miller and George Packer

Courtesy of StateCollege.com
Posted July 25, 2019

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Three months. Three best-selling authors. This fall, the Schlow Library Foundation and partners will present Author Spotlight, with three award-winning writers visiting State College on three different days.

Jamie Ford begins the series with his visit to Schlow’s Downsbrough Community Room in September. Madeline Miller then comes to Schlow in October. Finally, George Packer will be at the Days Inn on South Pugh Street in November. Book signings and sales, courtesy of Webster’s Bookstore Cafe, follow each event.

Author Spotlight brings new and best-selling authors to the Centre Region. It provides an opportunity to share in the writers’ experiences of creating new worlds and characters that inspire critical thinking, cultivate empathy, and explore new ideas. The authors will leave time for audience questions after each presentation.

Ford’s debut novel, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet," spent two years on the New York Times Best Sellers list and won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. His second book, "Songs of Willow Frost," also was a national best seller. His latest novel is "Love and Other Consolation Prizes." Ford will be at Schlow from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21.

Miller’s first novel, "The Song of Achilles," was awarded the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction and was a New York Times best seller. Her second novel, "Circe," became a No. 1 New York Times best seller and won the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Fantasy Novel. Miller will be at Schlow from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17.

Packer is a journalist, novelist and playwright. He is best known for his writings in The New Yorker about U.S. foreign policy and for his book, "The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq." He also wrote "The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America," covering the history of America from 1978 to 2012. The book received the National Book Award for Nonfiction. His latest book, "Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century," was released in May 2019. Packer will be at the Days Inn from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4.

“Bringing popular authors to our library stage forges a more intimate link between writer and reader,” Schlow director Cathi Alloway said. “It's a great way to gain insight into the authors' experiences, insights, and wisdom, and to share the joy of reading in a special way.”

HEY, KIDDO wins the NAIBA Carla Cohen Free Speech Award!

Courtesy of NAIBA
Posted Aug 8, 2019

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Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s ground-breaking graphic memoir wins another huge honor - the NAIBA Carla Cohen Free Speech Award! The idea for this award came from a desire to not only honor an amazing bookseller and past president of NAIBA, but to honor Carla as would be most fitting.

The NCCFSA will be awarded to a children's book, as awareness of constitutional rights needs to begin at the beginning of true consciousness. Educating children about their rights by putting the books into their hands that will allow them to question, imagine, and dream is essential to the survival of independent bookstores and dare we say, humanity.

Independent bookstores are the places where freedom of speech and anti-censorship are integrated into everything we do. We are spaces where difference-of ideas, sexuality, spirit, politics, and philosophy-is embraced and not feared. Politics and Prose has been exactly this kind of place for the past 27 years. Independent bookstores are essential to their communities and hence to a truly democratic nation. The survival of our bookstores relies on children becoming informed and engaged in our midsts. Only through the nurturing of this future community will we ensure having a customer base on which to rely.

Congrats, Jarrett!

Imbolo Mbue's New Novel in the Works: HOW BEAUTIFUL WE WERE

Courtesy of Okay Africa
Posted Aug 5, 2019

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The second novel from the mind behind Behold the Dreamers, Imbolo Mbue, is set to tell another poignant, but relatable story on the African experience.

How Beautiful We Were, the novel's current title, has been acquired by Penguin Random House for its North American rights. The publisher says the book is "a story told through multiple perspectives about what happens when an African village decides to fight back against an American oil company that is destroying their land."

This storyline calls to mind that many real-life instances of oil-rich communities standing up and demanding what's owed due to major oil companies destroying their environments and livelihoods over decades.

Mbue, who was also included in the inaugural OkayAfrica 100 Women list, made her mark with her debut, Behold the Dreamers in March of 2016. Behold the Dreamers also led Mbue to be awarded the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction as well as be selected in Oprah Winfrey's Book Club, Brittle Paper adds.


CIRCE Series Finds a Home at HBOMAX!

Courtesy of: Deadline.com
Posted July 30, 2019

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In a competitive situation, streamer HBO Max has given an 8-episode straight-to-series order to Circe, a drama series adaptation of Madeline Miller’s International bestseller of the same name. The project hails from top feature writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Jurassic World). Chernin Entertainment is producing with Endeavor Content through the companies’ scripted drama venture.

Written and executive produced by Jaffa and Silver, Circe is a modern take on the world of Greek mythology told from the powerful feminist perspective of the goddess Circe, who transforms from an awkward nymph to a formidable witch, able to challenge gods, titans and monsters alike.

Circe tells an epic story of love, loss, tragedy and immortal conflict, all through the eyes of a fierce female lens,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max. “I’ve been a longtime fan of Rick and Amanda’s work and their ability to simultaneously build epic imaginative worlds while creating emotional dynamic characters. In partnership with Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping, we have the dream team to bring Circe to life.”

For Jaffa and Silver, this marks a foray into television and an extension of their relationship with Chernin Entertainment on the feature side where they have collaborated on the Planet of the Apes franchise.

Jaffa and Silver co-wrote and produced the most recent Planet of the Apes trilogy, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes. 

In addition to Planet of the Apes, the duo recently also successfully rebooted another blockbuster movie franchise, co-writing the 2015 Jurassic World. Upcoming tentpoles co-written by Jaffa and Silver include Disney’s live-action Mulan and the first two Avatar sequels.

Published in 2018, Miller’s Circe was a breakout success, launching to strong reviews and landing at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list (for a 16-week stay), and selling over half a million books in the U.S. alone. The book was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction and was the Winner of the 2019 Indie Choice Award. It has been translated in 22 languages.

A|U Monthly Muse - August 2019 (New Books Out This Fall)

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AUGUST 2019: NEW BOOKS OUT THIS FALL

With Labor Day just around the corner and the first day of school fast approaching, the time has come to bid adieu to summer. Whether the days have been hazy, crazy, lazy, or just plain beautiful, it won’t be long before that telltale nip is in the air. It’s never easy to say goodbye to the season of warmth and play. If you find yourself searching for a reason to look forward to fall, this lineup of forthcoming titles will have you wishing for the sound of fallen leaves underfoot. Through fiction and nonfiction, these talented writers tackle a plethora of subjects. From recounting the true story of the Kindertransport rescue in Nazi Germany to an exploration of being Latinx in the Trump era and more, these books are hopeful while training an unflinching eye on past and present challenges.

Peter Heller's THE RIVER Tops Forbes List for 10 Summer Books Recommendations!

Courtesy of Forbes
Posted July 2, 2019

The River by Peter Heller (Knopf)

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Hillary Taylor, bookseller at Lemuria Books in Jackson, Mississippi: “The River by Peter Heller is a fantastic book by an amazing author. It has all of the elements you need for a great summer read: friendship, adventure, outdoor, survival, canoeing. Set against a Canadian backdrop, it has a great mystery element that keeps it fast paced. I couldn't put it down.”

We’re currently adding dates to Peter’s Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 schedule, so if you’re interested in hosting him for an event, be in touch with us soon!

A|U Monthly Muse - July 2019 (Reading with Kids)

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July 2019: Reading with Kids

Summer has officially arrived. The end of school brings wide open days to kids of all ages, days that seem to stretch longer than usual. Whether your children’s days are filled with camps or vacations, sports or sleepovers, summer jobs or family time, longer days mean extra hours for reading. From picture books to young adult graphic novels, this month’s featured writers bring humor and tenderness to topics serious and light. These award-winning and nationally-renowned authors serve up stories that have the power to instill a lifelong love of reading… and we don’t have to tell—you who likely have fond memories of spending July afternoons in the shade of a leafed out tree—what a wonderful gift this is.

Boys and Girls Club of Tupelo Gear up for GINNY MOON this Fall!

Courtesy of WCBI News
Posted June 28, 2019

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Boys and Girls Club members in Tupelo are taking part in a city wide initiative that promotes reading and literacy. “Tupelo Reads” is an annual program that encourages residents to read the same book, and come together for activities promoting literacy.

This year’s book is Ginny Moon  the story of an autistic teenager.  Volunteers with “Tupelo Reads” have spent the past few days at the Haven Acres Boys and Girls Club, talking about key themes of the book with the young people. One of the most important is compassion.

“That was a big takeaway that they may encounter people who are different , not just with autism spectrum, but many other things and to deal with people that might be different in a compassionate way,” said Lisa Reed, chairperson of “Tupelo Reads.”

The book’s author, Benjamin Ludwig will visit Tupelo in September for “Tupelo Reads” community events.

Melanie Benjamin Wows Readers in Orlando!

Courtesy of Southwest Orlando Bulletin
Posted June 21, 2019

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Melanie Benjamin took to the podium for the 14th annual Southwest Author Series and infused laughter with wisdom. She shared how she first wanted to be an actress and dreamed of playing other people on stage. But then she married, joking that marriage is where dreams go to die.

“Melanie Benjamin was incredibly engaging with a great sense of humor,” Colin Galloway (president of the Rotary Club of Dr. Phillips) said. “It was fun. We all enjoyed it.”

Benjamin has two children. At a school event, she saw a poster her son had made indicating the stay-at-home mom was a “cleaning lady.” That set her off on a journey to become more. She decided to try her hand at writing and soon was hired to write a parenting column and short stories for a local magazine. But she said that her writing meant authoring a book.

Then she came across a photograph of a little girl dressed in rags and learned she was Alice Liddell Hargreaves, the inspiration for Alice in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Benjamin wanted to know more about the girl’s life and wrote her first historical fiction book — Alice I Have Been — under a pen name.

Benjamin captivated the audience with tales of how she came up with the ideas for her subsequent books and teased some of the storylines. She encouraged would-be writers to get out, see things and read, read, read.

Writer’s Block Bookstore, an independent bookseller in Winter Park, sold copies of Benjamin’s books, which she autographed while chatting with participants after the presentation. The bookstore sold out of most of her titles.


A|U Monthly Muse - June 2019 (Beach Reads)

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June 2019: Beach Reads

As the days warm and spring shifts into summer, you might find yourself with an open afternoon and a beckoning chaise lounge. Whether you’re poolside, lakeside, or languishing on a beach, the longer days call for losing yourself in a good read. Beach reads come in all stripes and those written by this month’s featured writers, though different in topic and tone, all deliver engaging storytelling. In other words, you won’t want to put them down. Complete with intrigue and intelligence, these books prove that with deft treatment, powerful material can see the bright of day.