Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Prize-winning author, has passed away at age 90. Brilliant, prolific and unafraid of controversy, Gordimer was a champion of civil rights during the South African era of apartheid. With a deep and empathetic understanding of South African culture and politics, Gordimer fought tirelessly for the persecuted and oppressed.
In an interview with BookPage’s Alden Mudge in 2007, Gordimer spoke of the deep influence reading had on her life. "I began to write very, very young in the small gold-mining town in South Africa where I was born…. By the time I was 12, the librarian at this local library, who was also a friend of my mother's, allowed me the freedom of the library. I wasn't confined to the children's section. I read everything from D.H. Lawrence to Thucydides. Nobody was guiding me. I was like a pig in clover and I found what I wanted and what was nourishing to me. The local library was unbelievably important to me. It was my real education."
A literary giant and champion of equality, Gordimer will be keenly missed. You can read our full interview with Gordimer here.
Maybe it's me, but there's just something about hot summer days that makes me want to read about murder—and lots of it. So of course I'm ecstatic to kick off Private Eye July, our month-long celebration of mysteries and thrillers!
And the crime fiction features aren't limited to our July print issue, either. Keep an eye out of the Private Eye July magnifying glass, and stay tuned into The Book Case all month long through Facebook and Twitter for plenty of extra goodies.
Just a few things to look forward to:
Happy reading, mystery lovers!
In the market for a piece of literary and cinematic history? Looking for a memento for the 75th anniversary of the film adaptation of Gone with the Wind? You're in luck. The RR Auction is offering a collection of correspondence between Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell and a fan for bidding. At the moment, the next bid for the set of letters is holding steady at $5900, so crack open the piggy bank!
The letters offer some fascinating insight into Mitchell's process of character and plot development, as well as her thoughts on the film adaptation of her book. Sadly, if you've ever wondered about the fate of the South's most volatile couple, Mitchell offers no guidance. After Rhett declares that he just does not give a damn what Scarlett does with her life, Mitchell quite literally closed the book on them. She writes, "About the ending of the book and whether or not Rhett came back to his wife—well, you have me out on a limb. You see, I do not know myself. I honestly never thought about what happened to the characters after the book ended." Sigh.
Mitchell's pen pal was obviously hoping that the saga of Tara would continue, but despite Gone with the Wind being one of the most successful American novels ever published and winning the Pulitzer Prize, Mitchell had no desire to write a sequel. She tells her admirer, "I do not plan to write a sequel, nor have I any plans for future writing, as I do not like to write.” For someone who didn't like to write, she certainly wrote one long novel (1,037 pages!). But true to her word, she never published another book during her life.
However, Mitchell's estate authorized a sequel written by Donald McCaig in 2007 (Rhett Butler's People), and he has been commissioned to write a prequel as well, this time from the perspective of Scarlett's house slave, Mammy. Despite being undeniably powerful and important, Gone with the Wind has been criticized for its depiction of slavery and black people, which is at best lacking in nuance and at worst, offensive. McCaig's novel attempts to flesh out the character of Mammy, giving her a backstory and a name—Ruth. Entitled Ruth's Journey, the book will focus on Mammy's story before Gone with the Wind: Ruth's youth spent in the Carribean, her marriage and her relationship with Scarlett's mother. Peter Borland, the editorial director of the book's publisher, Atria, says, “What’s really remarkable about what Donald has done is that it’s a book that respects and honors its source material, but it also provides a necessary correction to what is one of the more troubling aspects of the book, which is how the black characters are portrayed.” However, many have questioned whether a 73-year-old white man would be able—or should even attempt—to give voice to a black, enslaved woman. Ruth's Journey will be released in October.
What do you think, readers? Will you be picking up Ruth's Journey? Or is this Gone with the Wind reboot a bridge too far?
Golden Globes winning actress, producer, SNL alum, personal role model and hilarious human Amy Poehler has unveiled the cover of her upcoming book, Yes Please. Set to publish on October 28th with It Books, an imprint of Harper Collins, the book will cover topics such as friendships, dating, motherhood and more. It Books says this of Poehler's debut book:
"Her original twist on the conventional memoir will have universal appeal. An illustrated, non-linear diary full of humor and honesty and brimming with true stories, fictional anecdotes and life lessons, the book will be a unique and engaging experience from one of today's most talented and beloved stars."
If it's anything like her good friend Tina Fey's book, Bossy Pants, I will be overjoyed. But the real question is, can it live up to Leslie Knope's book, Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America?
The book is already available for pre-order. Do you think you'll be checking out Yes Please?
With June on the horizon, it’s time to don the sunglasses and crack open a book in the balmy weather! The June LibraryReads list is out and features the 10 books being published next month that librarians are most excited about sharing with their patrons.
Topping the list is Emma Healey's stunning debut novel detailing a woman's sprial into dementia, Elizabeth Is Missing. Other books on the must-read list include China Dolls, another compelling historical novel from Lisa See following three young women navigating the Chinese community of San Francisco, the delightfully unsettling Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch and Courtney Maum's debut novel detailing a Parisian maritial crisis, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You.
You can delve into the entirety of the LibraryReads June list here. What do you think? Will any of these books be enjoying the sunny weather with you?
"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift." — Kate DiCamillo
May 12 - 18 is the 95th annual Children's Book Week! Established in 1919, this annual celebration of children’s books and reading is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country.
A few great ways to celebrate CBW this week:
Children's Book Week is administered by Every Child a Reader (ECAR), a literacy organization dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of reading in children. The Children's Book Council, the national non-profit trade association for children's book publishers, is also a sponsor.
How are you and your kids celebrating this week?
• Try not to drool on your keyboard over the photos of New York's secret libraries (including the one at the Harvard Club, right) over on Atlas Obscura.
• Vintage self-help and advice guides can be hilariously dated, but Mental Floss offers up 8 that actually (sort of) stand the test of time.
• You've probably heard by now that To Kill a Mockingbird is finally available as an eBook. You might be surprised, though, by the Washington Post's list of other classics that have yet to be released in eBook form.
• What's your favorite type of literary bad boy? (I tend to gravitate toward "the misunderstood," myself.)
• And, here's more to drool/marvel over: kidlit-inspired cakes on Book Riot!