The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, has removed famed author Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from an award citing “expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC’s core values.”
Image Via Fox News
The ALSC decided to change the name on Saturday, changing it from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award.
Image Via 105.7 News Crossville
Historically, Wilder’s work was met with racially conscious criticism during the author’s lifetime. The books themselves were not written with people of color in mind and are filled with phrases that are unacceptable today. Wilder has apologized for her own work and amended a line in Little House on the Prairiethat said Kansas had “no people, only Indians,” changing it to “no settlers, only Indians.”
The ALSC’s decision to remove Wilder’s name from the award is not a call to censor or remove her books from shelves, but an acknowledgement of the fact that the Little House books are not for everyone, and never have been. The award will continue to highlight and award children’s literature, just without Wilder’s name and legacy attached to it.
So it’s safe to say that after Beyonce’s Coachella performance, and the news that Kendrick Lamar has won a Pulitzer Prize, 2018 has been salvaged a little.
The first of its kind, Kendricks hip hop album DAMNwon the Pulitzer Prize for Music. While the announcement of his win is a bit of a shock considering its the first album that has won that isn’t jazz or classical, it makes sense as Lamar has made a huge impact on hip hop, music, and culture since the release of his first album.
Image via Goodreads
Andrew Sean Greer’s 2017 novel Less won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The book follows a failed novelist’s journey traveling the world to avoid his ex-boyfriend’s wedding. Greer’s novel takes a more satirical look at the ‘American abroad’ narative, with the New York Times calling it “…the funniest, smartest, and most humane novel I’ve read since Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists.” Arthur Less, the main character of Greer’s novel, travels from New York to Paris, Berlin, Morocco, southern India, and Kyoto just to attending literary seminars, events, and festivals all while trying to avoid having to go to his ex-boyfriend’s wedding.
In 2014, the UK’s top literary prize, the Man Booker award, changed its rules. It had previously only nominated novels by authors from Commonwealth countries and the Republic of Ireland. The rule change expanded nominations to include any English-language novel published in the UK.
This includes Americans, and therein lies the problem. In the four awards since the rule change, two Americans have won (George Saunders in 2017 for Lincoln in the Bardo, and Paul Beatty in 2016 for The Sellout). Richard Flanagan, an Australian, and Marlon James, a Jamaican, won the other two years.
Out of fear that the UK’s top prize for books is becoming too global, thirty UK publishers have signed a letter, The Guardian reports, which has leaked, addressed to the organization. In it, publishers say:
The rule change, which presumably had the intention of making the prize more global, has in fact made it less so, by allowing the dominance of Anglo-American writers at the expense of others; and risks turning the prize, which was once a brilliant mechanism for bringing the world’s English-language writers to the attention of the world’s biggest English-language market, into one that is no longer serving the readers in that market … [It] will therefore be increasingly ignored.
Essentially, the fear is UK-based writers will be sidelined by English-speaking Americans. Washington Post critic Ron Charles (an American) weighed in in a piece titled “Dear Britain, please take your Booker Prize back home.” In it, Charles makes the salient point that, by the time the Man Booker is awarded, American writers have already had plenty of opportunity to boast their accomplishments. Charles writes, “As flattering as it is for our nation’s novelists to be invited into the U.K.’s literary arena, Americans don’t need any encouragement to trumpet their own books. As a nation, we’re already depressingly xenophobic when it comes to our reading choices.”
The Man Booker Foundation has responded to the letter with a statement, saying, “The judges … are charged with finding the best novel of the year, in their opinion, written in English. The trustees believe that this mission cannot be constrained or compromised by national boundaries.” They further state four years is not enough time to gather representative data in terms of whether or not the award favors Americans.
What’s your stance on the continued controversy? It does seem appropriate for the UK to have a prestigious UK-centric award, in the same way America has the National Book Award. The Man Booker Prize was once an opportunity to see the best literature published in a certain region. Its message now is more broad, and, personally, not totally on board with it. Even though Lincoln in the Bardo was one of my favorite books of last year, George Saunders is doing okay in terms of being critically lauded—not sure he needed the 2017 Man Booker Prize. But what do you think?
The National Book Foundation has just announced a fifth National Book Award category: The National Book Award for Translated Literature. A new category hasn’t been added since 1996 when the foundation awarded the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature to Victor Martinez for Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida.
Because this marks a pretty major step for the National Book Foundation, a unanimous vote was needed from the Board of Directors. They got all the votes, and Chairman of the Board of Directors, David Steinberger, said in a statement “We could not be more pleased to take this step. We now have the opportunity to recognize exceptional books that are written anywhere in the world, and to encourage new voices and perspectives to become part of our national discourse.”
Image Via the National Book Foundation
After twenty-two years, the question of “Why now?” arises. The political atmosphere is obviously very tense when it comes to immigration and xenophobia runs rampant in some parts of the country, so that seems to be part of the foundation’s mission. After all, they are an organization dedicated to enriching the country’s literature.
Some insight can be gleaned from the Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, Lisa Lucas. In a statement, Lucas said:
As the Foundation further expands its purview and work, it’s important that we continue to promote reading habits that reach widely across genre, subject, and geography. We are a nation of immigrants, and we should never stop seeking connection and insight from the myriad cultures that consistently influence and inspire us. We want American readers to deeply value an inclusive, big-picture point of view, and the National Book Award for Translated Literature is part of a commitment to that principle. The addition of this award lends crucial visibility to works that have the power to touch us as American readers in search of broadened perspective.
That sums everything up pretty nicely. Though it is a national organization, the literary world is, obviously, international. Personally, of my top favorite authors, I might include one American writer. However, if it weren’t for American translator Jay Rubin, for example, we wouldn’t be able to read many of Haruki Murakami’s works.
The work of translators is indispensable to a reader’s life. If you are reading a work in translation, then, though it may not seem it, about half the work is being done by the translator. Capturing an author’s voice and aesthetic in a new language is immensely challenging and is an artistic medium independent of writing. It’s extremely exciting that one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world is now awarding translators for their contributions to book life.
Submissions for the National Book Award for Translated Literature will be open on March 7th, the same time as the other categories (Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature). The longlist will be announced on September 10th, and the finalists will be announced on October 10th. The inaugural winners (both writer and translator) of the National Book Award for Translated Literature will be announced at the National Book Awards Ceremony and Dinner on November 14th. Winners in each category receive a bronze sculpture and $10,000. Winners of the Translated Literature award will split the money evenly between them.
Who would you like to see win the National Book Award for Translated Literature? Think globally!
It’s that special time of year again, the season we spend all year anticipating. You guessed it! It’s time for the Bad Sex Award Nominees.
Different extracts from each of the selected works are available on different sites, so I have compared and contrasted to make sure the ones that feature in this article do their texts justice and prove beyond all reasonable doubt that they belong on a list such as this. Frank Brinkley of The Literary Reviewtold The Guardian:
There’s plenty of sex around, but a lot of it is quite good. Maybe we are having an effect – definitely literary fiction’s changing and the ‘Oh sod it, I’ll put in a sex scene’ attitude that prompted the creation of the award has pretty much fallen by the wayside. Maybe publishers aren’t pushing for it in the way that ‘sex sells’ was used as a prompt 15 years ago, either. All to the good.
There is criteria that must be met in order to qualify for recognition by the Bad Sex Awards. Firstly, the book cannot be expressly pornographic. It must simply be a work of literary fiction that includes a (deeply unsettling and poorly written) sex scene.
Let’s take a look at this year’s nominees, followed by a vow of celibacy.
He tips her back and lays her on the dissecting table. She takes off her skirt, spreads her legs and tells him: ‘Fuck me like a machine.’ And while her breasts spill out, Simon begins to flow into her assemblage. His tongue-machine slides inside her like a coin in the slot, and Bianca’s mouth, which also has multiple uses, expels air like a bellows, a powerful, rhythmic breathing whose echo – ‘Si! Si!’ – reverberates in the pulsing blood in Simon’s cock. Bianca moans, Simon gets hard, Simon licks Bianca, Bianca touches her breasts, the flayed men get hard, Gallienus starts to wank under his robe, and Hippocrates under his toga. ‘Si! Si!’ Bianca grabs Simon’s dick, which is hot and hard as if it’s just come out of a steel forge, and connects it to her mouth-machine. Simon declaims as if to himself, quoting Artaud in an oddly detached voice: ‘The body under the skin is an overheated factory.’ The Bianca Factory automatically lubricates her devenir-sexe. Their mingled moans ring out through the deserted Anatomical Theatre.
“Do me a favor,” she says as she turns. She covers her breasts with her swimsuit. The rest of her remains so delectably exposed. The skin along her arms and shoulders are different shades of tan like water stains in a bathtub. Her face and vagina are competing for my attention, so I glance down at the billiard rack of my penis and testicles. “Let’s not tell Charlie and Sonny about us. Let’s leave them out of it. You know how this kind of thing can become a telenovela for everyone else.”
They lie beneath molten sunrise, head nestled in inner elbow, mould of muscle mingling flesh with flesh, one body, soul within soul. The green grass curls around Tera’s left breast as she curves her sleek physique around Matty’s diabolical torso like a vine. Paralysed, complete, the marble statue of the lovers allows itself to be painted by the dawn’s lurid orange spillage. Shards of innocence, they lie in the sweet, sweaty chill of the morning light. Darkened by the sun and dust, Yang curls round s-curved Yin, a perfect fit.
“Yes…” he said, taking the robe off her, without the slightest resistance on her part, and laying her down on the bed. “I want to explore you, like Dr. Livingstone and Mr. Stanley exploring Africa…” He gave her a little kiss on the lips, but then his head moved down her body, following his right hand as it ran down her breastbone and then around each of her breasts in turn. They were not large, but they were pretty and in proportion to the sleekness of the rest of her; the long, flowing lines of a body that was naturally athletic, gifted with speed and strength but still entirely feminine… Her nipples were a delicate shade of coral pink and they were standing up for him as proudly as little guardsmen on parade.
Looking down, she unbuckled his belt. “We’re grown-ups.”
Perhaps he wasn’t quite in the moment, because he thought of Kierkegaard and Socrates. If there wasn’t great wisdom gained by lust, by love, its consummation – the aesthetics of all this – then you were doing it wrong.
We made love and we had sex and we had sex and we made love. But reader, again, I implore. Mistake me not. I am not your Pollyanna, I am not your sweet princess. We fucked, we fucked, we fucked, we fucked, we fucked, we fucked. We fucked in the effluvia of our bodies, we fucked in the scent of it, in the sheer stench of it, in the garden of our human flowering. Stained sheets, stained clothes, stained souls, stained towels. Fucked until my pussy ran dry and was rubbed raw, fucked until the Captain yowled outside my door, his gray paws smacking against the wood, fucked until Jon’s daily erections withered into nothingness, unable to support a third or fourth condom, fucked until the arrival of my period, pausing only until the heavy flow ceased, then fucking as Jon’s penis turned cartoon red with my discharge, fucked until celestial bodies rotated on their axes and reversed course in the Heavens, until the bed broke, until the building itself became hypercharged by orgones. Our fucking was a pulsing wave, a holy burst of scared geometry, a congress of wonder.
Sometimes during he would think about where he was and feel a start of fright at doing this in his father’s place of work – until he remembered his parents were in prison and couldn’t catch him and this would fill him with relief.