South African writer Nadine Gordimer died today in Johannesburg at the age of 90. Known for her writings dealing with themes of injustice and cruelty in apartheid South Africa, Ms. Gordimer wrote more than two dozen works of fiction as well as essays and literary criticism. Three of her books were banned in her country – her second novel A World of Strangers (1958), The Late Bourgeois World (1966), and Burger’s Daughter (1979). In 1974 she on the Booker Prize for The Conservationist and was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1991. She said it wasn’t her country’s problems that started her writing. “On the contrary, it was learning to write that sent me falling, falling through the surface of the South African way of life.” She continued writing after apartheid, saying “it wasn’t apartheid that made me a writer, and it isn’t the end of apartheid that’s going to stop me.” Read the entire NYT article here and check the EPL catalog for works by this acclaimed author.
Nobel-Prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez died today in Mexico City at age 87. The Colombian novelist “widely considered the most popular Spanish-language writer since Miguel de Cervantes in the 17th century,” was a master of the literary genre magic realism. In a 1984 interview with NPR, he said his writing was forever shaped by the grandparents who raised him as a young child:
“There was a real dichotomy in me because, on one hand … there was the world of my grandfather; a world of stark reality, of civil wars he told me about…. And then, on the other hand, there was the world of my grandmother, which was full of fantasy, completely outside of reality.”
His 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, which poet Pablo Neruda called “the greatest revelation in the Spanish language since Don Quixote” established him as a literary giant. Both the New York Times and NPR have in-depth coverage. And check out the EPL catalog for works by this revered author.
French writer and philosopher Albert Camus, born 100 years ago today in Algeria is probably best known for his novels The Stranger and The Plague. But as France marks his centennial, “it’s his politics, not his his philosophy, that still makes waves.” Winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957 and regarded as a giant of French literature, Smithsonian contributor Joshua Hammer, says it’s Camus’ “North African birthplace that permeated his thoughts and shaped his writing.” Like South Africa, French Algeria was a “very segregated society” and Camus “represents an Algeria of the pieds-noirs, the name given to the million-plus Europeans who lived there. He really didn’t know the Arab world.”Read the rest of this fascinating NPR article and check the EPL catalog for works by and about this author.
Celebrated and prolific poet Seamus Heaney died in Dublin today after a brief illness. Winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature, he was described by Robert Lowell as the “most important Irish poet since Yeats.” In 2008, on NPR’s program All Things Considered Mr. Heaney said: “I have always thought of poems as stepping stones in one’s own sense of oneself. Every now and again, you write a poem that gives you self-respect and steadies your going a little bit farther out in the stream. At the same time, you have to conjure the next stepping stone because the stream, we hope, keeps flowing.” In addition to his poetry, he was praised for his translations, including his version of Beowulf. Read both the NYT article and the NPR article here. And check the EPL catalog for his works. Here is his poem The Railway Children (from Station Island) that he read on NPR:
When we climbed the slopes of the cutting
We were eye-level with the white cups
Of the telegraph poles and the sizzling wires.
Like lovely freehand they curved for miles
East and miles west beyond us, sagging
Under their burden of swallows.
We were small and thought we knew nothing
Worth knowing. We thought words traveled the wires
In the shiny pouches of raindrops,
Each one seeded full with the light
Of the sky, the gleam of the lines, and ourselves
So infinitesimally scaled
We could stream through the eye of a needle.
Manuscript for a novel by Pearl S. Buck, discovered in a storage unit in Texas, will be released in October in paperback and e-book formats. Best known for her second novel The Good Earth, published in 1931, Pearl Buck is the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Renewed interest in her work soared when Oprah Winfrey chose The Good Earth as a book club selection in 2004. This recent manuscript The Eternal Wonder is being described by her publisher as “the coming-of-age story of Randolph Colfax, an extraordinarily gifted young man whose search for meaning and purpose leads him to New York, England, Paris and on a mission patrolling the DMZ in Korea that will change his life forever – and, ultimately, to love.” Read the entire NYT article here and check out the library catalog for other books by the acclaimed author.
The Nobel Prize committee announced today that Mo Yan, age 57, of China is this year’s Nobel Prize winner for literature. This article from today’s LA Times quoted the Nobel committee’s description of Mo’s style as “hallucinatory realism,” which blends aspects of “folk tales, history and the contemporary.” Mo is most known here in the U.S. for his novel Red Sorghum which was also made into a film. Check the EPL catalog for our all our holdings on this author.