The Thursday Book Beat: Brazilian Book Lovers Donate 5,000 Books to Fulfill Library Dream
The New York Review of Books will release The Prank, Chekov’s first writing collection, in July. The Prank failed to get through censors several times, despite his best efforts. Known for his deft use of parody and comedy as platforms for social commentary, Chekov’s early writing will likely be of high interest to both long-time fans and newer readers.
Low enrollment and “the niche quality of the program” were the cited reasons for the closure, running contrary to the program’s unchanged number of students and its self-funded status. Several students had published essays during the height of Occupy Hong Kong, fueling rumours of a connection between their speaking out and the school’s decision.
MFA alumni Nicholas Wong comments, “We are still pondering other possible factors of the closure.” Many members of the creative community reflected upon the Umbrella Movement in their writing. “We don’t know if it is ultimately about our being vocal about the movement. A good number of faculty members and alumni have published [work] that, in one way or other, deals with the movement thematically.”
Madeleine Thien, a Canadian novelist and instructor in the program, also wrote about the decision to close it:
In its abrupt closure of a small programme, City University has chosen to make the act of writing a political battle. For five years, we occupied a small and unique place: a learning environment in which there were no hard and fast dicta, but in which we cultivated the awareness that language is thinking. Language can diminish and language can enlarge. For our young people, to read and to be read matters.
Ana Mell Araújo Rocha Silva–Mell, for short–wanted nothing more than a library in her small city of Mata Grande, Alagoas, Brazil. She expressed that wish in a letter to her aunt, which ended up on Instagram, and quickly spread through various social media.
The result? Nearly 3,000 books from the Alagoas Secretary of Education, and 2,000 books from the Military Police Academy, not to mention the dozens of books still arriving every week from fellow Brazilians. Next up for Mell: raising funds to build a library for all of these books. I don’t doubt she’ll be able to accomplish it.
Originally slated as a standalone novel, Ember is Sabaa Tahir’s debut in the YA landscape. The months leading up to its April 2015 publication have been filled with high praise and comparisons to iconic fantasy series like A Song of Ice and Fire. Publishers Market also reported a seven-figure option deal with Paramount Pictures for a film based on the novel.
I’ve had my eye on this book since mid-last year, and while I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, this news is very welcome. Tahir is one of several authors of colour that have garnered attention and praise in the YA community, and I’m looking forward to experiencing her work myself.