Book Beat: Forest of Reading Nominees, Frankfurt Book Fair Recap, and “There’s a Poem For That!”

Hello all, Emily here! I’ve recently returned from a trip where I had limited internet, so I’ve been scrolling Twitter and checking all my favourite book and bookish sites, including this one, to get caught up on everything I missed. Luckily for me, Paige and Christa held down the Book Beat fort, and now it’s time for me to jump back in and pay it forward.

So, without further ado, here’s what’s been going on in the literary world lately.

The Forest of Reading

The Ontario Library Association has released the list of nominees for the 2019 Forest of Reading program!

For those of you unfamiliar, the Forest of Reading program includes several literary categories across age categories. It invites young readers — who can participate in school, at libraries or literary centres, or at home — to read and vote on their favourite books. Winners will be announced at the Festival of Trees event held in Toronto in May 2019.

Books nominated for the Forest of Reading

It’s an exciting event for participants and organizers. I know because the Silver Birch portion of this reading program was a highlight of my young reading life. I used to speed through each title and fret over which one I should vote for, debating with fellow readers which ones were the best (not that different from my current reading life, actually).

This year Eric Walters, (Fourth Dimension; Elephant Secret), Heather Smith (Ebb & FlowThe Agony of Bun O’Keefe), and Kevin Sylvester (Basketballogy: Super Cool Facts You Never Knew; The Almost Epic Squad: Mucus Mayhem) have recieved multiple nominations.

Check out the full list on the Ontario Library Association website, but beware: you might end up adding some to your TBR list! Or better yet, you’ll find some gift ideas for the young folk in your lives.

Maryse Condé

After much press, we finally have a winner for the Alt Nobel! Guadeloupean author Maryse Condé took home the New Academy Prize in Literature (despite initially receiving less press attention than the male nominees).

Conde will receive one million kronor with the award, but the prize has significant cultural value to her as well:

“I belong to a small island with no say on international issues,” Ms. Condé said in the New York Times. “Guadeloupe is mentioned only when there is a hurricane, but I have always been convinced we have a wonderful culture fabricated from various influences: Europeans, Africans, Indians, Chinese. Winning this prize would mean that our voice, the voice of the Guadeloupeans, is starting to be heard. It would be the beginning of a true Guadeloupean identity.”

Highlights from The Frankfurt Book Fair

The Frankfurt Book Fair wrapped up on Sunday. Attendence remained stable this year, which Publisher’s Weekly reported contributed to a business-as usual tone overall. However, that doesn’t mean the event went without excitement.

Politics were a central theme this year. Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie told the opening press conference audience that “art can illuminate politics,” and numerous attendees shared stories that embodied that thought throughout the event. Notably, Macmillan CEO John Sargent discussed his experience dealing with the Trump administration while publishing Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff.

Women’s voices in literature were also a significant source of discussion. This is perhaps no surprise with the #MeToo movement continuing to spark conversation and controversy in literary communities. Adichie said the lack of female voices in literature contributes to a lack of understanding women’s struggles, which leads to situations such as the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court.

Indonesian essayist Laksmi Pamuntjak also spoke of women’s writing, calling out the way her work is received in comparison to fellow male novelists:

“No one talks about the romantic stories of Mohsin [Hamid]’s and Nadeem [Aslam]’s work but, instead, the political part. While with me, they are more likely to talk up the romance. As if to say the serious political stories are best left to the men. There is a different level of seriousness assigned to us as women authors.”

While serious matters were discussed, the book community also found time for fun. The fair attempted to bring together the largest group of Harry Potter cosplayers. It fell a little short, but still succeeded in setting a record for the largest such gathering in Germany.

New Animated Poetry Series

If you’re into poetry or want to be, then you need to check out “There’s a Poem For That!” It’s a brand new webseries produced by poet Sarah Kay, in collaboration with Ted-Ed.

The series consists of animated interpretations of poems both old and new. The poems will be released weekly, with the first installment being Safia Elhillo’s “To Make Use of Water,” animated by Jeffig Le Bars & Jérémie Balais.

If Instagram poetry has taught us anything, it’s that people are interested in alternative ways to consume poetry beyond dense anthologies and traditional readings. This project seems like it could be a fantastic way for people to find poems and poets they enjoy. I, for one, can’t wait to see where it goes.

Out This Week:

Gmorning, Gnight! by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jonny Sun
Melmoth by Sarah Perry
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Ann Fowler
Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
The Grimoire of Kensington Market by Lauren B. Davis

The Grimoire of Kensington Market by Lauren B. Davis

Happy Thursday!