Book Beat: The Secret Letters of Harper Lee

Hello, fellow literature lovers, this is Christa! Welcome to another installment of Book Beat: your source for what’s happening in the bookish world.

Intimate Correspondences

I want to start this week with something that makes me smile – the new unseen Harper Lee letters. These thirty-eight letters, which she wrote between 2005 and 2009 to her friend Felice Itzkoff, really give us a glimpse into the author’s more humorous side. She tells jokes, throws a little shade at Eudora Welty, and remises about the time LBJ told Gregory Peck that there would be a black woman in the White House one day.

Harper Lee in 2007. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Harper Lee in 2007. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

More (Not) Man Booker News

The Not the Booker Prize was also awarded this past week. For those unfamiliar with the prize, it was launched back in 2009 to give readers a say in which books should receive recognition in the literary world. Think of it as a more democratic version of the traditional Man Booker Prize. This year, the prize went to Winnie M Li for her novel Dark Chapter. The book closely mirrors Li’s 2008 assault, when a 15-year-old raped her twice while she was walking through Colin Glen Forest Park in Belfast. I haven’t had a chance to read this book myself yet, but I’ve heard it’s an incredible and powerful read.

Dark Chapter, Winnie M. Li, Legends Press, 2017

Presenting the Indigenous Voices Awards

In other book award news, the new Indigenous Voices Awards (IVAs) were officially launched by the Indigenous Literary Studies Association. These awards were created in a response to the ‘cultural appropriation prize’ controversy that occurred earlier this year. Through money raised from a crowdfunding campaign, these awards will support the work of Indigenous writers with five prizes for unpublished work totaling $10,000 and three prizes for published work totaling $15,000. The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2018, with results to be announced in Spring 2018. As someone who’s been trying to read more works by Indigenous writers, I can’t wait to see what books get nominated.

That’s it for me this week, but I’d love to hear if you’ve read Li’s Dark Chapter and what books you would nominate for the first Indigenous Voices Awards!

Happy Thursday!

Christa Seeley

Christa Seeley

Books Editor. Maple Flavoured Darth Vader Fangirl.