Thursday News: PEN book prize, women in comics, graphic books, and NEA’s Big Read discovers the 21st C
PEN America launches $75,000 book prize, one of the country’s biggest – Book awards are important for many reasons, not the least of which is the monetary infusion they can provide an author. The Pulitzer, despite its prestige, comes with a $10K award, while the Nobel Prize is $1M. The new PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, will be somewhere in between, at $75K, and it will be nominated privately and judged anonymously. PEN has also announced a new resource for ongoing projects, the PEN/Jean Stein Grant for Oral History, sponsored by Stein along with the Book Award.
Each year beginning in 2017, the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award will be awarded to “a book that has broken new ground and signals strong potential for lasting influence.” . . .
PEN America President Andrew Solomon said the organization was grateful to Stein for sponsoring the award, writing, “The PEN/Jean Stein Book Award will focus global attention on remarkable books that propel experimentation, wit, strength, and the expression of wisdom. As an organization that champions literature¹s power to change the world, PEN is especially pleased to recognize work that honors creative ambition and rejoices in imagination.” – LA Times
Wonder Woman, Lumberjanes show female comic book readers and heroes on the rise – Despite being a rapidly growing U.S. demographic of comics readers, women are still not widely recognized for their love of the genre. With Comic-Con starting this week in San Diego, it will be interesting to see how much the industry recognizes their female readers.
Many reviewers and fans saw Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman as the lone bright spot in this year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and while it’s promising to see the industry taking notice of women, it’s been a long road.
“It certainly took a long time for a big chunk of folks to take notice,” said Shannon Eric Denton, a producer and director at Con Man Productions who’s been in the industry for roughly two decades. “It took Linda Carter’s Wonder Woman. It took “Star Trek’s” Uhura … It took Buffy. It took Xena. It took “Tomb Raider’s” Lara Croft. It took Storm, Rogue, Jubilee, and Jean Grey in the X-Men cartoon that I was working on when I met my wife. Our Teen Titans animated series had Starfire and Raven — from Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s comics run — (which) introduced powerful and cool female characters to a new generation.” – LA Daily News
Gallery Books Unveils New Graphic Books Line – In the meantime, Galley Books has announced the creation of Gallery 13, which aims to offer both fiction and nonfiction in graphic book form. Books will be acquired by Ed Schlesinger and Adam Wilson, and among the first on tape are Jeff Lemire’s Roughneck and Chabouté’s Alone. Given the story above, I can’t help but notice the lack of female voices on the creative and editorial side.
Commenting on the new line, Gallery Books publisher Jennifer Bergstrom, said “Visual storytelling has become a major part of the entertainment market. By forming Gallery 13, we look to put our own stamp on this modern narrative trend.” – Publishers Weekly
National Endowment for the Arts Announces New Focus for NEA Big Read program – Now ten years old, the Big Read grant program allows U.S. communities to develop multiple programs centered on an individual book, and more than 4 million readers have participated. Although the Big Read has featured some contemporary works, the NEA has decided to expand the diversity of voices represented, and has subsequently revamped the program reading list. In fact, if you would like to suggest a book for the Big Read, you can submit your suggestion here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Available for community programming beginning in fall 2017, the book list will include 28 titles, 13 of which are new to the NEA Big Read. The authors hail from all across the country and represent a range of ages and ethnicities, with more than half of the books by female authors. The list also features a range of genres, including novels, short stories, memoirs, poetry, and books in translation. The full list of 28 titles is available here; more information on the books and authors is available at neabigread.org. Guidelines for applying for a 2017-18 NEA Big Read grant will be released in October 2016 and will be available at neabigread.org.
These works were selected to provide a wider range of voices, perspectives, and writing styles for future NEA Big Read applicants to choose from. For instance, one of the new additions is Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, which combines poetry with visual art, quotations, slogans, and film scripts to reveal moments of racism that surface in everyday encounters. Another addition, Five Skies, a novel by Ron Carlson, is set in the austere, isolated landscape of Idaho and tells the story of three men working a doomed construction project. Kelly Link’s Pretty Monsters targets both adults and young adults with short stories about teenagers grappling with angst and alienation, awkwardness and awakening desires, but also with unexpected monsters, ghosts, wizards, aliens, possibly carnivorous couches, and undead babysitters. – National Endowment for the Arts