Friday News: NBCC awards, blasphemy, Islamophobia, and Clueless comic book
Louise Erdrich, Matthew Desmond Among Winners of National Book Critics Circle Awards – I have always loved Louise Erdrich’s books, because despite their often grim elements, there is a sense of gentleness and illuminated love in her writing (similar IMO to the film “Moonlight”). So I’m thrilled to see that she won the NBCC Award for LaRose. Matthew Desmond won in nonfiction for Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, Ishion Hutchinson won in poetry for House of Lords and Commons, Ruth Franklin won in biography for Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, and Carol Anderson won in criticism for White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide. Margaret Atwood received the Lifetime Achievement Award (more on that below).
The NBCC Awards, which are open to any book published in English in the United States, stand out from other major awards because book critics deliver the verdicts. The finalists and winners, in six categories, are selected by the board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle, which was founded in 1974 and is made up of more than 700 literary critics and editors. . . .
The Canadian novelist and environmental activist Margaret Atwood, who was given the organization’s lifetime achievement award, delivered the evening’s most memorable and grim political forecast, as she ticked off the stages societies go through as they slip into totalitarianism.
“Never has American democracy felt so challenged, never have there been so many intents from so many sides of the political spectrum to shout down the voices of others,” she said. “As independent critics, you are part of the barrier standing between authoritarian control and pluralistic, open democracy.”
She expressed gratitude for the lifetime achievement award, but said the recognition was bittersweet.
“Why did I only get one lifetime?” she said. “Where did this lifetime go?” – New York Times
Pakistan wants Facebook, Twitter to help identify people suspected of blasphemy – So apparently Pakistan authorities are seeking help from Facebook and Twitter in their pursuit of users who have allegedly violated national blasphemy laws. Eleven individuals have already been identified by Pakistani authorities, according to this report, and while Twitter has not publicly commented, Facebook gave one of their bland ‘we try to protect the privacy of our users’ responses. Which, you know, may or may not be worth its weight in, well, truth. Penalties for breaking these laws include criminal prosecution and even death, and users residing outside of the country could apparently face extradition.
According to Reuters, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said Thursday that an official in Pakistan’s Washington embassy has approached the two social media companies in an effort to identify Pakistanis, either within the country or abroad, who recently shared material deemed offensive to Islam. – CNBC
This Independent Bookstore Wants to ‘Counter Islamophobia Through Stories’ – I think I reported on the #MuslimShelfSpace campaign previously, but this article chronicles the efforts of a relatively new online bookstore, which has undertaken a concerted campaign to bring stories featuring Muslim characters to the US market, in part to counter Islamophobia and to support the important goal of providing diverse representation in kid lit. The bookstore’s founders are also working with teachers to make books available for classrooms and students.
Both Sadaf Siddique and Gauri Manglik know concepts like diversity and Islamophobia can be hard for young children to grasp. But the two founders of the online bookstore KitaabWorld say that it is essential to begin exposing students to stories about a wide variety of cultures and religions at an early age. . . .
Siddique and Manglik say they first came up with the idea to begin both KitaabWorld and the new book campaign as they realized how hard it was to find age-appropriate books with strong South Asian characters for their own children. (“Kitaab” means book in several South Asian languages.) . . .
“There are great books of really good quality coming out of India and other parts of South Asia right now, but they are really hard to find in the United States,” Siddique said. Kitaab World intends to help parents and teachers “bridge that gap,” by collecting books that are often published abroad and making them available for purchase in the U.S. – NBC News
Exclusive: The Dream of the 90s Is Alive in New CluelessComic Book – So it’s a little scary that it’s already been 20 years since “Clueless,” but if that doesn’t freak you out too much, this comic book may be for you. Either way, check out the interview with Amber Benson and Sarah Kuhn, who talk lovingly about flawed heroines and the current status of female-centered narratives. Not to mention all the Austen echoes.
The high-school-set world of Clueless and the adventures of Cher and her friends Dionne and Tai were so instantly iconic that they inspired a TV show that ran for three seasons—and now, more than 20 years later, a brand-new comic book written by Amber Benson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Witches of Echo Park) and Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex) with drawings by Siobhan Keenanand cover art from Natacha Bustos. . . .
The new book hails from Boom! comics, the publisher behind a run of successful titles that appeal to all demographics but lean especially toward a younger, female audience. Titles like Lumberjanes, Adventure Time, and Six Gun Gorilla have garnered the publisher critical acclaim, strong sales, and awards. The follow-up to Clueless, in all its 90s, slang-filled glory, will go on sale in August. Benson and Kuhn, who both came of age around the same time as Cher, spoke withabout the enduring feminist legacy of Cher Horowitz and the surprisingly academic research it took to resurrect the Heckerling’s world on the page. – Vanity Fair