The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
Don DeLillo is going to be awarded the first Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced Thursday. DeLillo, who was famously called "chief shaman of the paranoid school of American fiction" in The New York Review of Books, is known for grumpily funny postmodern novels like White Noise and Mao II. He said in a statement, "When I received news of this award, my first thoughts were of my mother and father, who came to this country the hard way, as young people confronting a new language and culture. In a significant sense, the Library of Congress prize is the culmination of their efforts and a tribute to their memory." DeLillo will receive the prize during the 2013 Library of Congress National Book Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The festival is set for Sept. 21-22.
A Fox News affiliate in Detroit is reporting on a campaign by a local mother to keep explicit passages from The Diary of Anne Frank out of the hands of 7th graders (likely ensuring that most everyone in Detroit will read the offending section, which is a brief, somewhat clinical description of female genitalia).
For The New Republic, Yochi Dreazen describes the Herculean efforts it took to save Timbuktu's store of ancient manuscripts from Islamic militants in Mali: "When I visited Ahmed Baba two months later, the rows of wooden bookcases in the large, sunlit rooms were empty. The only traces of the ancient documents were a pile of mottled gray-and-black ashes, a few empty leather cases, and a single book-sized manuscript lying loose on the floor. I picked it up: The spidery Arabic on its cover was mostly obscured by singe marks, the pages inside reduced to dust."
Craig Fehrman writes about Midwestern noir novels for The American Prospect: "In a book like Fight Club, people beat each other up so that Chuck Palahniuk can talk masculinity and consumerism. In [Donald Ray] Pollock's and [Frank] Bill's work, they beat each other up because it happens like that sometimes."
Amazon places Alexandria, Va., first on its annual list of the most "well-read cities" in the U.S., based on online book orders per capita. The American Library Association (not to mention your local bookstore) is probably wondering when Amazon purchases became the best indicator of literacy.
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