The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
The Newbery medal for "the most distinguished American children's book" of 2013 was awarded Monday to Flora & Ulysses, written by Kate DiCamillo, the new ambassador for young people's literature, and illustrated in black and white by K.G. Campbell. When Flora's next-door neighbor accidentally vacuums up a squirrel with her new high-powered vacuum, Flora draws upon the lessons she learned from the comic TERRIBLE THINGS CAN HAPPEN TO YOU! to revive him. Also honored were Journey by Aaron Becker, Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle and Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner. The Caldecott medal, which is "given to the artist who had created the most distinguished picture book of the year" was awarded to Locomotive by Brian Floca, which follows an 1869 railroad journey, from sketches of the crew to the "smoke and cinders, ash and sweat" of the coal engine. Also honored were Doll Bones by Holly Black, The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes, One Came Home by Amy Timberlake and Paperboy by Vince Vawter. Awarded by the American Library Association, the Newbery and Caldecott are among the oldest and most distinguished prizes in children's literature. (Meanwhile, over at Monkey See, Nicole Cohen rounds up some of our favorite picture books of 2013.)
The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts has posted a conversation between James Baldwin and Audre Lorde that was originally published in a 1984 issue of Essence magazine. Baldwin says, "Du Bois believed in the American dream. So did Martin. So did Malcolm. So do I. So do you. That's why we're sitting here." Lorde answers, "I don't, honey. I'm sorry, I just can't let that go past. Deep, deep, deep down I know that dream was never mine. And I wept and I cried and I fought and I stormed, but I just knew it. I was Black. I was female. And I was out — out — by any construct wherever the power lay. So if I had to claw myself insane, if I lived I was going to have to do it alone. Nobody was dreaming about me. Nobody was even studying me except as something to wipe out."
The Best Books Coming Out This Week:
Part memoir, part biography, part literary appreciation, My Life in Middlemarch is pure pleasure. New Yorker staff writer Rebecca Mead writes that George Eliot gave her "a profound experience with a book, over time, that amounts to one of the frictions of my life. I have grown up with George Eliot. I think Middlemarch has disciplined my character. I know it has become part of my own experience and my own endurance. Middlemarch inspired me when I was young, and chafing to leave home, and now, in middle life, it suggests to me what else home might mean, beyond a place to grow up and grow out of." Mead is more comfortable probing Eliot's inner life than her own, which she sketches out in short, restrained vignettes. You could probably read Mead's book without reading Middlemarch first, but as she said in a recent interview, "You don't have to have read Middlemarch to read my book. You do have to have read Middlemarch to be a completely evolved human being."