Carolyn's Second Annual "Noble"
Prizes for Literature
hear a drum roll! This is my second "Noble" prize for
literature. I inaugurated it because the "Nobel Prize for Literature,"
is so exclusionary, so esoteric that it often misses the mark. (For
more of last year's rant on this subject, read this prize's inaugural
column in the archives here at Myshelf.com).
not that the Nobel judges don't choose exquisite writing that elucidates
the essential, immutable quality of the spirit. It's that they choose
only one. That one is rarely a woman and, although, the United States
of America certainly does not have anywhere near a stranglehold,
they frequently bypass Americans. That means that they miss many
authors that are pertinent to American readers and, to top it off,
they certainly never even consider really new voices.
year I set out to name ten and managed somehow to list a couple
more by not insisting that the book be published in the year the
prize was given and by pulling from several years' reading. This
year I have no such advantage!
magazine reported that Sara Nelson decided to run a reader marathon
this year. She read nearly "around the clock for almost a year"
and came up with enough books (52) to write So Many Books, So
Little time: A Year of Passionate Reading. My sentiments exactly.
Trouble is, if I tried to do that I wouldn't have time to get my
UCLA class ready for the fall of 2004 much less work on both my
novel and book of poetry in progress!
this year my search for fine literary voices that sing a song with
their stories and their words, authors who make the world a better
place by examining the human condition. I still do not ignore older
book or even well-known works but I want to include-always-authors
that the laureates and major editors of the world know nothing or
very little about. Readers shouldn't assume, as they often do with
the Nobel Prize, that I have considered all the possible worthy
with a nod to Author Sara Nelson's determination, here is my list-nowhere
near 52. Still each of them is Noble-if not Nobel material.
Carolyn's 2003 Noble List of 2003 for 2004 Reading
These are numbered for ease of reading
but are in no particular order.
1. John M.
Coetzee who was awarded the Nobel this year for portraying "the
surprising involvement of the outsider."
2. To David
Hernandez for A House Waiting for Music. This is a gritty
book of poetry with surprising turns that are sure to nudge you
toward reconsidering the platitudes in your own "book of memories."
3. To Lee Nelson
who, along with Mark Twain (no, I'm not kidding!) wrote Huck
Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians. This book was over-looked
in a flurry of scholarly productions on the subject of Huckleberry
Finn and Twain published by the University of California.
4. To Randall
Silvis for a lovely book called Mysticus that cannot be categorized.
5. To Rose
Lewis for the sweetest board book for children I've ever seen called
I Love You Like Crazy Cakes. So it isn't adult, literary
fiction, this award is for stuff that's been overlooked by the big
6. And, in
the same spirit, to Amy Ferris for you young adult story featuring
one of the most delightful fictional characters to come along in
years. It's called A Greater Goode Adults will love it, too.
7. To D. Herrle
for a very hard-to-find book of poetry called Doomsinger Smiles.
Don't go to Barnes and Noble for this new voice, go to SubtleTea.com.
8. To Martha
Ronk for Displeasures of the Table. This is a tiny book of
not quite poetry. Maybe it's a new genre-flash essays, perhaps?
9. To Lila
Abud-Lughod for her scholarly book, Veiled Sentiments. She
is an anthropologist; her language may be a bit academic for many,
but her observations add substantially to our culture's understanding
of the lives Muslim women lead.
10. To Sarah
Mankowski for her effort to expose new voices to mainstream reading
with her Yarrow Brook Literary Review. A few copies of the last
edition are still available at www.wordthunder.com.
honorable mention to Gail Collins for her nonfiction, America's
Women. She explores the human condition from a feminine perspective;
by the time we turn the last page we can see how "then"
I'd like to encourage you all to read my most recent book of nonfiction,
Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered. I believe
it connects with the heart and memories of families everywhere for
no single story is ever an isolated event but springs from the humanity
of its characters.
Last Year's Winners of Carolyn's Noble
Prize for Literature in Brief
(These are repeated from last year's selections
because they are all still valid.
Please search the MyShelf archives more complete information.)
1. Nobel Prize-Winner
2. First Time Novelist Leora G. Krygier
3. Harper Lee
4. Ralph Ellison
5. Tamin Ansary
6. Kristie Leigh Maguire's E-mails from the Edge
7. Nora Okja
8. Gail Jenner
9. Imre Kertesz's
10. Reuben Ainsztein's
11. Wayne Karlin's
12. Joanne Harris 13.
have two tidbits this month:
1. My Thanks for this one to Norm Goldman, Editor of bookpleasures.com.)
Reviewers and publishers may be interested in a Yahoo group
called My Book Is Out. Authors announce when they have
a new book just published. Reviewers pick from the available
books. This is the email address to sign up: My
Writers of short stories will also find quicksitebuilder.cnet.com/mywritingfriend
helpful. Long Story Short is edited by Denise Cassino
and, though it is not a paying market, they do offer critiques.
Tip: Use Amazon.com's Listmania
feature for suggested reading. When you open a page look at
the links on the right hand side. There you'll find well-loved
books by every day readers as well as experts. The best Listmanias
will even give you a little personal input on each of the
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