Toni Morrison (February 1931 – August 2019)
RIP. Toni Morrison.
When I first read this message in a friend’s Facebook post, I wondered who he was talking about. Surely not my Toni Morrison. I was in disbelief and even when another friend confirmed the news and I finally saw the articles pouring in on the web, I still didn’t want to believe it. Toni Morrison had passed.
Toni Morrison died on Monday, August 5, in Bronx, NY, from complications of pneumonia. She was 88. As the news of her passing settles around me and into me, as I begin to accept it, I feel a loss and am moved by her passing. No, I did not personally know Morrison, nor have I read all her books or have met her, but I felt her presence in my life. She (her books) were a presence in the households I lived in, especially when I moved to the U.S.
Gloria Naylor (January 1950 – September 2016)
I am late with this post. More than two weeks have passed since Gloria Naylor died, but I couldn’t let her passing go by without making a note of it on this blog. Gloria Naylor, a noted African-American writer best known for her novel The Women of Brewster Place, died from heart failure on September 28 near her home in the Virgin Islands. She was 66.
Will I ever be on time with these posts? I’m starting to doubt it. Anyways, here are some noteworthy happenings in the book world that were discussed in February.
Simon & Schuster Launched a Muslim Imprint
On February 24, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing announced that they will launch a new imprint called Salaam Reads, which will focus on Muslim-themed children’s books. The books will be geared toward all ages and will include picture books as well as middle-grade and young-adult novels.
Harper Lee (April 1926 — February 2016)
I faintly remember the day I picked up Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird to read. It was the summer before sixth grade and I had read all the books I owned so I scoured my parents’ bookshelves for something new. The memory of the day and Lee’s story has faded from my memory, but I recall that I was so intrigued by the story that I completed the book in two days.
I didn’t know what significance the story carried. It was just something to read on a slow summer day. But I remember that I was touched by its contents and choked up a bit while reading. That’s the only experience I’ve had with Lee’s work. Since the release of the controversial Go Set a Watchman, I’ve debated returning to Lee’s books. I would like to re-experience her first novel and read the second for myself to see what it is about. But I have been skeptical about Go Set a Watchman because part of me believes that she was forced into publishing it. After all, she had avoided the media for years and had refused to publish another book after To Kill a Mockingbird.
I was sorry to learn that Harper Lee had passed. She died on February 19 in her hometown, Monroeville, AL. She was 89. With To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee so impacted literary canon that her novel became a staple on many high-school literature reading lists. It also won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 1961, a year after it was published. Though she will be missed, her work will continue to endure and she will be remembered.
May her soul rest in peace.
I’m late with this news roundup but here’s a list of exceptional announcements I came across in January. I will just give the gist for each to make this quick. If you’d like to know more, just click on the link.
The Publishing Industry: White, Female, Straight
We already know that there’s a lack of diversity in the publishing industry but a recent survey by Lee and Low Books helped to illustrate to what extent this is so. According to the results, the overall industry is dominated by Whites, women, heterosexuals, and those without a disability.
Click to see the chart, which also shows data according to industry level (editorial, sales, etc.). A list of publishers surveyed is also provided. (Lee & Low Books)
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts and it probably would have been a while longer before I did one but the Man Booker Prize Winner was recently announced and I’m excited about it so I thought I’d share the good news. Guess who won?
Marlon James won the 2015 Man Booker Prize
If you’ve read my recent posts, then you’re not surprised that I’m excited about this. On Tuesday, October 13, it was announced that James’s recent novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, was named winner of the Man Booker Prize.