Hello, lovely readers! Welcome to this week’s installment of Book Beat, brought to you today by editor Paige. Can you believe June is almost over? It feels like just yesterday we were all queerly embracing the weather and this month’s overall jovial mood. But now we’re closing in on July, and things out in the real world are heating up — the weather, award season, a few turbulent political situations… admittedly, it’s been kind of a lot.
So let’s take a quick breather and escape into this week’s mostly good news from the publishing industry, shall we?
2018 Locus Award Winners
This year’s barrage of book awards is just around the corner, and many book lovers consider the Locus Awards as the start of this ceremonial time in the industry. The Locus Awards are annually presented by Locus Magazine for the best creative works in science fiction and fantasy, divided into specific categories such as novels, novellas, debuts, anthologies, short stories, and nonfiction. Locus readers vote for the winners in each category online, and the winners are then announced at a very lovely banquet over in Seattle.
The competition was fierce this time around, following the recent releases of a few dozen excellent literary works. However, I can’t help but express my utter excitement over the following winners this year:
Fantasy Novel: The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
Horror Novel: The Changeling by Victor LaValle
Young Adult Novel: Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
Novella: All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Collection: The Hainish Novels and Stories by Ursula K. Le Guin
But definitely check out the full list of winners and finalists for 2018. I guarantee you’ll find a great new read!
Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Sheds Its Controversial Namesake
After months of intense deliberation, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has decided to remove late author Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from its prestigious children’s book award. The award, which honors an author or illustrator whose books have made “a significant and lasting contribution to children’s literature,” will now be known as the Children’s Literature Legacy Award.
This apparently controversial name change is the result of the ALSC’s careful review of Wilder’s published work, which has been criticized for decades due to the author’s explicitly expressed anti-Black and anti-Native racism. While the ALSC acknowledges how drastic this change may seem, especially to readers who have found Wilder’s work “deeply meaningful” over the years, ALA president Jim Neal and ALSC president Nina Lindsay stated the following in their joint explanatory statement:
“ALSC has had to grapple with the inconsistency between Wilder’s legacy and its core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness through an award that bears Wilder’s name. Wilder’s books are a product of her life experiences and perspective as a settler in America’s 1800s. Her works reflect dated cultural attitudes toward Indigenous people and people of color that contradict modern acceptance, celebration, and understanding of diverse communities.
“ALSC works within the context of our society as a whole, where the conversations taking place inform our work and help us articulate our core values and support of diverse populations. Changing the name of the award should not be viewed as an attempt to censor, limit, or deter access to Wilder’s books and materials, but rather as an effort to align the award’s title with ALSC’s core values.”
The Hate U Give Trailer Sparks Colorism Debate
After just over a year of publication, Angie Thomas’ award-winning debut novel The Hate U Give is finally hitting big screens nationwide this fall. Fans of the novel have been on the edge of their seats ever since the film adaptation was first announced early last year. This excitement has steadily increased with each new addition to the adaptation’s star-studded cast, which includes Issa Rae, Regina Hall, KJ Apa, Anthony Mackie, and Amandla Stenberg as the lead character Starr Carter. Now, with the film set to premiere on October 19th, the first official trailer has been released — with surprisingly mixed results.
Specifically, some fans are concerned about Stenberg’s casting and have cited it as an example of Hollywood’s longstanding colorism problem when it comes to black roles. While this is an incredibly important conversation that needs to be had among moviegoers and moviemakers alike, other fans have pointed out that this issue doesn’t accurately describe this specific case:
no she wasnt. the cover has a darker skinned person on it but Starr is described in the book as being lighter and angie has said many times that the cover was not her decision and Amandla was cast before the book even came out.
— Maia The 🧛🏽♀️🐝 (@semirose) June 26, 2018
Regardless, Thomas has taken a social media break due to the backlash and to allow herself time to focus on the upcoming release of her next novel, On The Come Up. Still, the entire situation is pretty awful. It is a shame that Thomas can’t enjoy the latest news about her first novel’s adaptation due to misplaced criticism from fans. It is also a shame that this criticism about the lack of representation for dark-skinned black people still exists in the first place, as all forms of our entertainment media continue to deny both fictional dark-skinned characters and real-life dark-skinned people the opportunity to be seen and heard.
New Releases This Week
Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather
All We Ever Wanted by Emily Griffin
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
Trail of Lightening by Rebecca Roanhorse