Hispanic Authors ~ Show September 5 and 6

FEATURED BOOKS PREVIEWED

“Ripper” by Isabel Allende
“The Water Museum” by Luis Alberto Urrea
“Rag and Bone” by Michael Nava
“It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris” by Patricia Engel
“At Night We Walk in Circles” by Daniel Alarcon
“Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass” by Meg Medina
“The Clairvoyant of Calle Ocho” by Anjanette Delgado

INTERVIEW
Michael Nava, Author

TUNE IN TO THE PROGRAM FOR
New works by Hispanic authors, tales told with atmospheric prose, carefully crafted characters and old fashioned storytelling. Michael Nava stops by to speak about his new title, “The City of Palaces.”

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Argentina Is World Capital Of Bookstores

ARGENTINA IS WORLD CAPITAL OF BOOKSTORES
All across Argentina’s capital, lodged between the steakhouses, ice cream shops and pizzerias, is an abundance of something that is becoming scarce in many nations: bookstores. From hole-in-the-wall joints with used copies of works by Jorge Luis Borges, Miguel de Cervantes and Gabriel Garcia Marquez to elegant buildings with the latest children’s books in several languages, Buenos Aires is filled with locales that pay homage to print.

The city has more bookstores per capita than any other major city in the world, according to a recent study by the World Cities Cultural Forum, an organization that works to promote culture. With a population of 2.8 million people within the city limits, there are 25 bookstores for every 100,000 people, putting Buenos Aires far above other world cities like London, Paris, Madrid, Moscow and New York. The closest is Hong Kong, which has 22 bookstores per 100,000 people.

“Books represent us like the tango,” said Juan Pablo Marciani, manager of El Ateneo Gran Splendid, an immense bookstore in the affluent Recoleta neighborhood where 7,000 people visit each week. “We have a culture very rooted in print.” Behind the high number of bookstores, 734 by last count, is a combination of culture and economics. Culture boomed along with the economy in the early part of the 20th century, and even if the economic path grew rocky, ordinary Argentines embraced and stuck to the habit of reading. To this day, many across the region call the Argentine capital the “Paris of Latin America” thanks to its architecture, wide streets and general interest in the arts. During the Spanish civil war in the 1930s, many top writers fled to Argentina, further cementing the country as a literary capital and powerhouse for printing.

In 2014, there were 28,010 titles in circulation and 129 million books were printed in the country, according to the Argentine Book Chamber, making it one of the most prolific book printers in Latin America. Many stores carry rare books that are hundreds of years old. At Libreria Alberto Casares, bookworms can gaze at a collection that includes a French translation of Spanish poet Garcilaso de la Vega from 1650 and Gregorian chants on papyrus dating to 1722.

In buses and subways, parks and cafes, it’s common to see people flipping pages of whodunits, histories and poetry, or most recently, new books about the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, a case that has rocked the country since he was found shot dead in his bathroom Jan. 18. “I was born with paper books and I’ll die with paper books,” said Aida Cardozo, 65. “Computers are for responding to emails and using Facebook, but not to read a novel,” she said.

Books also receive help when it comes to staving off the digital deluge. There are no sales taxes on books, notable in a country where most products get 21 percent slapped on top of the sticker price. And heavy import taxes on books, and electronics such as e-readers, help keep the local printing industry strong. While Argentines are increasingly glued to their mobile devices, customers who want to use foreign retailers like Amazon have to pay a 35 percent surcharge on their peso-denominated credit cards. The use of e-readers like the Kindle is still relatively low. Less than 10 percent of the 1.2 million people who attended the city’s annual book fair last year said they used electronic devices to read books, according to a fair survey.

Ignacio Iraola, the Southern Cone editorial director for publishing house Grupo Planeta, said the economic factors make printed books an attractive business for bookstores and make books a popular gift in tight economic times. “A book costs 200 pesos ($23) compared to 400 pesos $46 for a shirt,” said Iraola. “And the perceived value of a book is much higher.”

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The Real Mr Darcy Uncovered?

Jane Austen fans have long speculated about who could have inspired the character Mr. Darcy in “Pride and Prejudice,” but rumors have never led to a truth universally acknowledged. British historian and author Susan C. Law is hoping to change that with a new book about sex scandals in 19th century England. In her book, “Through the Keyhole,” Law claims Darcy was based on John Parker, 1st Earl of Morley, a British aristocrat who served in the House of Lords, and who was “involved in a sordid sex scandal that led to divorce” in 1809.

Morley’s second wife was a friend of Jane Austen, and her brother Henry knew the earl in college. Law notes that Morley looked the way that Austen described Mr. Darcy — handsome and “very intense.” Law says she can’t conclusively prove that Morley was the inspiration for the beloved character, played on screen by actors including Colin Firth, Laurence Olivier and Peter Cushing, but she’s still fairly sure she has the right man.

“It can be very frustrating and it is like trying to piece together a jigsaw,” Law said. “It has been fascinating and I have been longing to find that cast iron bit of evidence. But after spending so long on it, I am pretty convinced.”

“Pride and Prejudice” might not have been the only Jane Austen novel inspired in part by Morley, who had illegitimate children with a mistress, causing a scandal that gripped the press at the time. “There was a media frenzy over this,” Law said. “The original adultery is generally believed to have been behind the adultery plot in ‘Mansfield Park.”

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PULITZER WINNERS ANNOUNCED

PULITZER WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Anthony Doerr’s novel All the Light We Cannot See and Elizabeth Kolbert’s nonfiction work The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History were among the books awarded 2015 Pulitzer Prizes, April 20 at Columbia University.

Inspired by the “horrors of World War II,” Doerr’s novel was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The Pulitzer jury described All The Light We Cannot See as a novel written in “short elegant chapters that explore human nature and the contradictory power of technology.” In addition to a being critical success, All the Light was one of 2014’s top-selling books and continues to sell well with a total of 1.6 million print and digital copies now in circulation.

Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. The jury described the book as “an exploration of nature that forces readers to consider the threat posed by human behavior to a world of astonishing diversity.”

David I. Kertzer’s The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for biography for its “engrossing” look at the lives of “two men who exercised nearly absolute power over their realms.”

Gregory Pardlo’s Digest was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, for a collection of “clear-voiced poems,” that are “rich with thought, ideas and histories public and private.”

Elizabeth A. Fenn’s Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for history.

Pulitzer Prize winners will receive $10,000 and a Pulitzer Prize certificate.

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England Votes On Best Opening Lines To A Book

Peter Pan is the book with England’s favorite opening line, according to a new poll.
‘All children, except one, grow up,’ wrote J M Barrie in his children’s classic which scooped 20% of the vote in a poll commissioned to mark World Book Day next month.

But it’s not just childhood fairy tales that adults have fond memories of, as the opening lines from classic 19th Century novel “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens scored second place, while George Orwell’s “1984” completed the top three.

One in five of those polled admitted they will put a book down if the first line isn’t engaging.
However, one in four said they will continue reading a novel to the end even if they don’t enjoy it and, with complete disregard for the opening line, 15% admit jumping to the last chapter first to find out a book’s ending.

Here are the top 10 selections:

1. ‘All children, except one, grow up.’ – Peter Pan

2. ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.’ – A Tale of Two Cities

3. ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’ – 1984

4. ‘When Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.’ – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

5. ‘Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice “without pictures or conversation?”‘ – Alice in Wonderland

6. ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife.’ – Pride and Prejudice

7. ‘Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.’ – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

8. ‘Here is Edward Bear, coming down the stairs now, bump bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.’ – Winnie-The-Pooh

9. ‘My father got the dog drunk on cherry brandy at the party last night.’ – Adrian Mole

10. ‘The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play, so we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day.’ – The Cat in the Hat

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Hilary Mantel Made A Dame By The Prince Of Wales

The 62-year-old Wolf Hall author was honored during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Her trilogy of novels about the life of Henry VIII’s adviser Thomas Cromwell has been widely critically acclaimed. She won the Booker Prize in 2009 and 2012. Mantel’s damehood was announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours last year.

A six-part dramatic adaptation of “Wolf Hall” and its sequel “Bring Up the Bodies” is currently being shown on BBC Two. The novels chronicle the rise of Cromwell, the son of a blacksmith who became King Henry VIII’s chief minister as he navigated the corridors of power in the Tudor court.
Mantel, who was born in Glossop in Derbyshire, said her decision to be a writer was inspired by the end of her parents’ marriage and personal illness. Mantel, who studied law before becoming a social worker, was appointed CBE in 2006 and has won a string of literary honors.

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“I AM MALALA” WINS GRAMMY

Neela Vaswani, a professor of creative writing, literature and cultural studies, was stunned to learn she had been nominated for a Grammy.

When she heard the audio version of I Am Malala, the book by Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai–which Vaswani had narrated–had been nominated for Best Children’s Album, she shared, “I had no idea it was even possible for a children’s book to be nominated.”

The news just got even better: the audio version of I Am Malala won the Grammy. The Grammy represents the latest in a slew of honors the teenaged Malala has earned since surviving an attack in which she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for standing up for her belief that all children should have access to an education. She earned rave reviews for a keynote address at the Forbes Under 30 Summit this fall, explaining her journey and what she’s now doing to spread her message all while attending school in the United Kingdom. “She’s very busy going to school and saving the children of the world,” said Vaswani. “I hope Malala is happy,” said Vaswani. “I’m thrilled to be a part of spreading her message further.”

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Chipotle’s Going Literary…..Again

Eight months after author Jonathan Safran Foer turned his mid-burrito boredom into a series of stories for Chipotle cups and to-go bags (by the likes of himself, Toni Morrison, Michael Lewis, and George Saunders), he’s at it again.

The fast-casual burrito chain recently announced a new slate of authors for its beverage cups and packaging. Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors), Julia Alvarez (In the Time of Butterflies), Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist), and Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible) are among the new additions. Foer curated the mix, which also includes Aziz Ansari and Walter Isaacson.

“When I received Jonathan Safran Foer’s invitation, he mentioned that as many as 800,000 people a day might read Cultivating Thought,” Alvarez said. “I was blown away! I love this democratization and liberation of literature from the gated communities of those who already have access to literature and an inclination to seek it out. I love the idea of taking Toni Morrison or George Saunders or Jonathan Safran Foer out of the classrooms, down from the bookshelves, out of ‘devices,’ and putting their two minutes of wisdom or whimsy in front of people, people of all ages, backgrounds, races, ethnicities, instead of the usual ‘reader’ types and intellectuals.”

Alvarez also said she’s pleased to add a Latina voice to the series, an omission that attracted some criticism when Chipotle announced its first batch of authors in May of last year. “I thought it was important as a Latina to add my voice to this series,” she said. “So it’s not just our food being served at Chipotle, but also our arts which we all vitally need to nourish the spirit and open wide the heart.” Alvarez’s story, “Two-Minute Spanglish con Mami,” focuses on the immigrant experience, especially as it pertains to what Alvarez described as “the biggest, hugest challenge I faced when I came to this country: learning English.”

“I love the idea of unexpected stories in unexpected places,” Burroughs said. “I’m working on a complicated memoir at the moment so writing a miniature memoir for the back of a cup was highly appealing.”

Coelho added that he hopes the cups and packaging will make “all of us to stop for one minute of our busy lives and read something special.” “As a writer, I think we all should find our daily spot to stop and meet our thoughts,” he added.

Kingsolver, who revealed she has “been known to pull out my reader even during a long red light,” said she dreads being caught without reading material. Naturally, I’m eager to help anyone who might be caught dining without food for thought,” Kingsolver said.

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Is “The Girl On The Train” The New “Gone Girl”

“The Girl on the Train” thriller, published Jan. 13 in the U.S., is flying off shelves and already has landed a movie deal.

The book by Britain’s Paula Hawkins, made its debut at No. 1 on The Wall Street Journal best-seller list for hardcovers and e-books combined.

After an initial print run of 40,000 copies, the book is in its 10th printing in the U.S., with more than 250,000 copies out, according to the book’s publisher, Penguin Random House imprint Riverhead Books. Publishing rights have been sold to 33 territories around the world and DreamWorks has acquired the film rights.

That’s a promising start for a page-turner that many have anointed the successor to Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl.” Since its publication in June 2012, Ms. Flynn’s thriller has sold more than 7.6 million copies and been a fixture on best-seller lists—first in hardcover, then in paperback.

Hawkins’s book is a mystery that unspools through different untrustworthy points of view. “The Girl on the Train” has three narrators—all women. The main one, Rachel, is an alcoholic who occasionally blacks out and can’t trust her own memory. Rachel commutes by train and, looking out the window, sees the same couple having breakfast every morning in a house by the tracks. She assigns them names, and feels that she knows them. After learning that the woman in the couple has disappeared, Rachel realizes she’s witnessed something that could be crucial to solving the case.

This is the first novel to appear under Hawkins’s real name. The 42-year-old author grew up in Zimbabwe and moved to London, where she now lives, when she was 17. Before “The Girl on the Train,” she wrote women’s fiction for hire under the pseudonym Amy Silver, fleshing out plotlines and characters assigned to her. Those books, which were published only in the U.K., were mostly romantic comedies. That genre, it turned out, wasn’t her strong suit.

The stories “kept getting darker and darker,” Hawkins said in an NPR interview. “I’m not a joyful, romantic person. I can be, but I’ve got a proper dark side and I enjoy indulging it.”

“None of us can think of another debut that has exploded out of the gate this fast,” said Madeline McIntosh, president of the Penguin Publishing Group. “As to why it’s caught fire, I think it’s really come down to the read.

Janet Maslin of the New York Times wrote “‘The Girl on the Train’ has more fun with unreliable narration than any chiller since ‘Gone Girl,’ the book still entrenched on best-seller lists 2½ years after publication because nothing better has come along.” Others have drawn parallels to the suspense and voyeurism of Alfred Hitchcock. “Nothing replicated my response to ‘Rear Window’ until I read Paula Hawkins’s debut novel, ‘The Girl on the Train,’ ” Kim Kankiewicz wrote in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

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A RARE SHAKESPEARE FIRST FOLIO DISCOVERED

A RARE SHAKESPEARE FIRST FOLIO DISCOVERED

A rare and valuable William Shakespeare First Folio has been discovered in a provincial town in France. The book – one of only 230 believed to still exist – had lain undisturbed in the library at Saint-Omer in the north of France for 200 years. Medieval literature expert Rémy Cordonnier was searching for books to use in a planned exhibition of “Anglo-Saxon” authors when he stumbled across the 1623 tome in September. Cordonnier, a librarian, said that at first he had no idea that the battered book in his hands was a treasure.

“It had been wrongly identified in our catalogue as a book of Shakespeare plays most likely dating from the 18th century,” he said on Tuesday. “I didn’t instantly recognise it as a book of value. It had been heavily used and was damaged. It had seen better days.” Cordonnier contacted one of the world’s most eminent authorities on Shakespeare, Prof Eric Rasmussen of the University of Nevada in Reno, who – as luck would have it – was in London working at the British Library. “He was very interested by the elements I had sent him by mail and said he would come over and take a look. He identified it as a First Folio very quickly,” said Cordonnier.

Although the book, originally believed to contain 300 pages, has around 30 pages missing and no title page, it will still be the centrepiece of the French library’s exhibition next summer. “One of the most interesting things about the book is that the Henry IV play has clearly been performed because there are notes and directions on the pages that we believe date from around the time the book was produced,” Cordonnier said.

The First Folio, entitled “Mr William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies,” was edited and published in 1623 – seven years after the author died – by his colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell. It included almost all of the plays widely accepted to have been written by Shakespeare and is credited with being the reason his literary legacy survived.

In the 16th century, Saint-Omer was home to an important Jesuit order that welcomed Roman Catholic clergy fleeing Protestant persecution in England. The First Folio discovered in the town is thought to have been brought to France during that era and held in the Jesuit library until the French Revolution when the order’s collection was confiscated and used as the basis for a public library.

Cordonnier says the Shakespeare First Folio will be a “treasure among many treasures” at the Saint-Omer library that holds a collection of 50,000 books and manuscripts dating from the 7th to the 19th century. The library also holds one of only 48 existing copies or partial copies of the 15th century Gutenberg Bible, one of the world’s most valuable books. The First Folio will not go on general display, but will be scanned so it can be consulted on the library website and will be available for other libraries and museums to borrow, he said.

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