Tuesday News: NBCC Award nominees, 80s Romance publishing, how to not read a book, and sketching book characters
National Book Critics Circle Announces Award Nominees – The NBCC awards books in fiction, autobiography, biography, and criticism. Fiction nominees include The Sellout (I just got this in audio and am excited to listen to it), Fates and Furies, The Story of My Teeth, The Tsar of Love and Techno, and Eileen. A full list of the nominees is available in the linked story.
The awards, determined by a jury of critics and book review editors, honor excellence in six categories – autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction and poetry. The winners will be named on March 17. On Monday, however, the group announced the recipients of its two annual citations: Wendell Berry, an environmentalist, farmer and novelist, won the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, while Carlos Lozada, the nonfiction critic for The Washington Post, captured the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. – New York Times
Love For Sale – Sunita posted a link to this 1982 story from Black Enterprise magazine in the comments to yesterday’s post, and I definitely think it’s worth featuring more prominently as a news story. At the time this article was written, Romance represented $250 million in sales, with Black women comprising 25% of the market. The article specifically features Harlequin editor Vivian Stephens, who arrived there from Dell, where she created the Candlelight Ecstasy line in the late 70s. When Dell didn’t want to publish any more “ethnic books,” Stephens brought her significant talent and ambition to Harlequin American Romances. It is impossible to read this article without being horrified at the way so little has changed for Black authors in Romance, despite the enthusiasm of editors like Stephens and Valerie Flournoy, and the talent of authors like Sandra Kitt, Lia Sanders (a collaboration between Angela Jackson and Sandra Jackson-Opoku), and others.
For blacks in the publishing industry, the rapid growth of romance fiction has been a mixed blessing. Publishing is perhaps the last of the genteel WASP professions; the long hours and low pay that are typical of entry-level jobs in the industry tended to attract upper middle class white women, who could afford such jobs, until they moved up the ladder. As the number of blacks willing and able to forgo short-term rewards for long-term career satisfaction has increased, traditional racism has reared its ugly head and made it nearly impossible for black women to find jobs in trade or ‘mainstream’ publishing. – Black Enterprise
The 5 Best Ways to Consume a Book Without Reading – No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Just no. With advice like “watch the TV show” and “literally consume the book” (WTF?!), “know the conversation around the author,” and “know the author’s big ideas” (explained below), I’m still not completely sure why, if you don’t care about reading, you would want to do all this other work to make it appear that you actually read. Why not just read the damn book? Not only would it likely take less time, but you might be able to actually appreciate the differences between a book and conversation about a book.
Let’s say you want to know what Ayn Rand is all about but you don’t want to suffer through Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead. If you just research Rand and objectivism, you’re pretty much set. Granted, this doesn’t work for authors who don’t operate on big ideas, but you’d be surprised how many it can work for, including “children’s” books like the Narnia books and The Golden Compass. Know the ideas, know the book. – Inverse
Police Sketches of 5 Literary Characters Based on Their Book Descriptions – Artist Brian Joseph Davis uses FACES ID, which allows law enforcement to create composite sketches of suspects and other persons of interest, to create sketches of book characters. Of course there’s a book now, but you can check out Jones’s Tumblr if you are interested in seeing more of his work. There are definitely some character sketches I would love to see this kind of technology tackle.
The images are shared to the artist’s Tumblr blog, The Composites, along with the passages used to make them. In an interview with The Atlantic in 2012, Davis said that the project was inspired by fictional “Identikit” index cards created by author James Ellroy (used in his 2009 book, My Dark Places). In creating the images, Davis used “educated guesswork” to fill in the features that were not explicitly referenced in the texts. “It’s a combination of literary criticism—which I know well—and forensics—of which I’m an utter amateur,” he said. After using his own book collection for inspiration, Davis turned to e-books, and eventually online fan submissions. – Mental Floss