Book Beat: WorldCon 76, Man Booker, and Amazon vs. the Library

Good morning, everyone — it’s Bookmarked editor Christa, here with your weekly news from the literary world!

Hugo Awards – Can’t Escape the Drama

The shadow of the Sad Puppies debacle has been hanging over the Hugo Awards for some time. As if that wasn’t enough drama already, some new issues have arisen in the lead up to this year’s World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon 76), where the Hugos are annually presented.

The list of issues thus far is extensive — photos were taken from guests private Facebook pages without their permissions, other guests were misgendered, some people proposed panels only to find their exact panel on the schedule without them or any of their other proposed panelists, and some of the Hugo nominees were curiously missing from the program because their names were considered “unfamiliar” to con attendees.

WorldCon has issued an apology for the mistakes on their website. Even though the con is only a few weeks away, organizers are throwing the previous program out and are reworking it now.

We are tearing the program apart and starting over. It was intended to be a reflection of the cultures, passions and experiences of Worldcon membership, with room for both new voices and old. What we released yesterday failed to do that; we must do better.

This is a good start but it’s unfortunate and disappointing, especially after all the Sad Puppy nonsense, that this needed to be done at all.

Man Booker Longlist Announced

The 2018 Man Booker longlist has been revealed, and there are some interesting (and exciting) nominees this year:

Author (country/territory)          Title (imprint)
Belinda Bauer (UK)                      Snap (Bantam Press)
Anna Burns (UK)                          Milkman (Faber & Faber)
Nick Drnaso (USA)                       Sabrina (Granta Books)
Esi Edugyan (Canada)                 Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)
Guy Gunaratne (UK)                    In Our Mad And Furious City (Tinder Press)
Daisy Johnson (UK)                     Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)
Rachel Kushner (USA)                The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape)
Sophie Mackintosh (UK)              The Water Cure (Hamish Hamilton)
Michael Ondaatje (Canada)         Warlight (Jonathan Cape)
Richard Powers (USA)                 The Overstory (William Heinemann)
Robin Robertson (UK)                  The Long Take (Picador)
Sally Rooney (Ireland)                  Normal People (Faber & Faber)
Donal Ryan (Ireland)                    From A Low And Quiet Sea (Doubleday Ireland)

Though the Booker is personally one of my favourite literary awards, I recognize that it tends to favour a certain kind of literary novel and you often see the same few authors in the rotation. For example, previous winner and recent Golden Man Booker recipient Michael Ondaatje was nominated again this year.

Otherwise, there are no reappearances of, say, authors Julian Barnes or Ali Smith. Instead, this year features four debut authors nominated for the prize: Robin Robertson, Sophie Mackintosh, Guy Gunaratne and Daisy Johnson. There are four independent publishers on the longlist too, which is always nice to see. The Booker nomination committee also seems to be branching out in terms of format and genre. Not only did a psychological thriller and a novel in verse make it on the list, but Sabrina by Nick Drnaso is the first ever graphic novel to be nominated for the prize as well.

Sabrina, Nick Drnaso, Drawn & Quarterly, 2018

It would have been nice to see a few more international authors nominated this year, but overall I’m pretty excited to start digging into this list. My first new read will be the audiobook of Snap by Belinda Bauer that I’ve just borrowed from the library.

And speaking of libraries…

Amazon vs. the Library

Earlier this week, Forbes published an op-ed that came out against libraries. It argued that they were a waste of taxpayer money and instead should be replaced with Amazon bookstores. Yup, you read that right. The author of this op-ed, LIU Post professor of economics Panos Mourdoukoutas, argued that “at the core, Amazon has provided something better than a local library without the tax fees… The move would save taxpayers money and enhance the stockholder value of Amazon all in one fell swoop.”

This opinion is, of course, ridiculous for a number of reasons. Libraries do so much more than lend books, though access to books is an important resource in and of itself. They also provide numerous social resources and services to its patrons, and they are an important space in any community. I won’t go into all of the arguments that Mourdoukoutas makes here, and why they’re incorrect, but Vox has a pretty good summary if you want to know more.

Following intense online backlash, Forbes quickly removed the article with the explanation that “[the] article was outside of this contributor’s specific area of expertise.” Clearly, the bottom line is this — libraries are amazing and serve to make our society better. Go support your local library!

Indigenous Literature for Canadian Schools, Continued

As previously mentioned in last week’s Book Beat, under the previous provincial government in Ontario (Canada) there were plans to explore how Indigenous issues are taught in schools across the province. These sessions were cancelled by the Ontario Ministry of Education under the new Progressive Conservative Government. In response to this move, writers Cherie DimalineMonique Gray Smith, and Tracey Lindberg announced they would donate copies of their books to Ontario public school classrooms and encourage others to do the same.

Since last week’s initial call to action, Anishinabek NationPortage & Main Press, and HarperCollins have also pledged their support. And here at Bookmarked, we are advocating for this cause as well. If you have the means to donate, I recommend reaching out to your local school(s) and see if they’re accepting donations in all provinces and states. And if you’re not sure what to donate, here are some recommendations to get you started:

When We Are Alone by David Alexander Robertston
I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis & Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland
Just a Walk by Jordan Wheeler, illustrated by Christopher Auchter
What’s My Superpower by Aviaq Johnston, illustrated by Tim Mack
Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson
Glass Beads by Dawn Dumont
Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
Birdie by Tracey Lindberg

If you have other recommendations or know of schools in need of donations, please leave it in the comments!

Out This Week:

Annex by Rich Larson
Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream by Ibtihaj Muhammad
Contagion by Erin Bowman
Jell-O Girls: A Family History by Allie Rowbottom

Featured image of Jell-O Girl by Allie Rowbottom

Happy Thursday!

Christa Seeley

Christa Seeley

Books Editor. Maple Flavoured Darth Vader Fangirl.