“Where is the black version of Caddie Woodlawn (a 19th-century Wisconsin tomboy) or Harriet the Spy (a 20th-century Upper East Sider), smart, spunky, fictional heroines for the tween crowd?” Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon fictionalize beloved Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston as a girl detective in Zora and Me.
Go Jane Give organized the “#Read4Refugees” social media campaign, encouraging users to raise awareness and funds for refugee issues. Over the past month, numerous well-known authors have joined in, including Junot Díaz, Jodi Picoult, Sue Monk Kidd, and Sherman Alexie, among others.
Hack author Dmitry Samarov is this week’s guest blogger at Writers No One Reads (which we’ve mentioned before). In his first post, Samarov takes a look at the work of Willard Motley, who grew up in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood in the early 1900s, and is most well-known for his 1947 bestseller, Knock On Any Door.
“‘There is almost no work, within the vast range of literature and science,’ [Thomas Jefferson] wrote in an 1874 report, ‘which may not at some time prove useful to the legislature of a great nation.’ Thus the Library Of Congress’s mandate expanded: it would acquire anything and everything of importance … By the late 19th century, the LOC had become a kind of national brain trust, a heritage of information that aspired to timelessness.” This piece on the Library of Congress and its internet progress (or lack thereof) is fascinating and thorough. Go and spend some time with the digital archive, there are only around seven million gigabytes of information for you to thumb through.
Chances are you’ve heard that in a recent interview, Claire Messud responded to a patronizing question about one of her characters — “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you?” — by giving her interviewer a smackdown that resonated across the blogosphere. At Page-Turner, several authors (including Rivka Galchen, Jonathan Franzen and Year in Reading alumna Margaret Atwood) offer their own takes on the matter of “likeability.” (There’s also this piece by our own Emily St. John Mandel to consider.)
Nobel laureate Doris Lessing passed away last night at the age of 94. The author of The Grass is Singing, The Fifth Child and The Golden Notebook took home the Nobel in 2007 for “subjecting a divided civilisation to scrutiny,” in the words of the prize committee.