A variety of literary prizes are awarded annually, and some years can hold a surprise or two. In 2012, for instance, the Pulitzer board refused to award the prize in fiction, even though the nominating committee submitted three novels they felt were worthy of the honor.
Of course, this year’s biggest shocker was the award of the Nobel Prize in literature to Bob Dylan. The songwriter is the first musician to win the prize, and critical reaction to the choice was mixed: some argued that song lyrics do not rise to the level of literature, while others applauded the selection. This unconventional decision was mirrored by Dylan’s reaction to winning the prize, as he refused to comment about it for several days and did not attend the Nobel ceremony.
You can decide if the judges were correct or off-base by checking out a Dylan music CD, concert DVD, or book from the Library. There are more than 50 CDs available from the Yavapai Library Network, spanning Dylan’s half-century-long career. In addition to reading Bob Dylan biographies, you can find works written by him, such as his collected lyrics and several children’s books based on his songs.
A more predictable winner this year was “Underground Railroad,” by Colson Whitehead, which received the National Book Award in fiction. The novel, which tells the story of a slave who escapes her plantation on an actual underground train, was already a bestseller, thanks to being an Oprah’s book club selection. The work is available in several formats besides regular and large print, including audiobook on CD, Playaway, and e-book.
“The Sympathizer,” by Viet Thanh Nguyen, is the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
This spy novel is set during and after the Vietnam War, and it was notably the author’s debut book. If you enjoy American history, check out “Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America,” by T.J. Stiles, this year’s Pulitzer winner in the history category. Theater lovers know that “Hamilton” won the Tony for best musical, but it also won the Pulitzer drama award. You can read the musical’s libretto, see photographs from the production, and learn about the creation of the show in the book “Hamilton: The Revolution,” by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The Man Booker award, one of the most prestigious English-language literary prizes, was not without controversy this year. It was given to Paul Beatty, the first U.S. writer to win in the history of the competition, for his novel “The Sellout,” about the unjust shooting of an African-American man by the police. Beatty was not favored to win the award, and some British writers object to American authors being eligible for the prize, claiming that they have enough awards of their own.
Literary awards offer a critical stamp of approval, but if you’d also like to know what your fellow Sedonans are reading, ask a librarian or volunteer at the main library or at Sedona Public Library in the Village.
Sedona Public Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, supported by donations and grants. Your tax-deductible donation may be sent to: Sedona Public Library, 3250 White Bear Road, Sedona, AZ 86336.
Sedona Public Library
Column for December 9, 2016
Written by Elizabeth Cate, Collection Development Librarian
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Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News.