New England Book Prize
The winners of this year’s New England Book Awards were announced recently at the annual conference of the New England Independent Booksellers Association. The prize recognizes books about or set in New England or written by a New England-based author. In fiction, Morgan Talty won the award for her debut collection of short stories, “Living Ground Night(Tin House), set in an aboriginal community in Maine, which our reviewer described as “a perfect blend of funny, sad, topical and intense”. The collection of “introspective yet entertaining” essays by ‘Isaac Fitzgerald,”Dirtbag, MA(Bloomsbury), took the non-fiction category. Pulitzer Prize winner, Tracy K. Smith’s “Such a color(Graywolf) won the poetry category. “Keepunumuk: Weeâchumun’s Thanksgiving Story(Charlesbridge), written by Danielle Greendeer, Anthony Perry and Alexis Bunten, and illustrated by Garry Meeches Sr., won the children’s book category. For mid-level books, Xiran Jay Zhao won for “Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor(Margaret K. McElderry). And in the YA category, the award went to “Squire(Quill Tree) written by Nadia Shammas and Sara Alfageeh.
Maine Bed Fest
The Maine Lit Fest is happening this week in Portland with a variety of readings, talks and events. “A Celebration of Native Writers,” with Morgan Talty, Terese Marie Mailhot, and Joan Naviyuk Kane takes place Tuesday, October 4 at 7 p.m. A virtual event on “Trans Voices, Trans Futures” takes place Wednesday evening and includes Charlie Jane Anders, Leigh Ellis, Isaac Fitzsimmons, Rylan Hynes and Maya Williams. Lily King and Brandon Taylor will be in conversation Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Rebecca Traister and Kerri Arsenault will be in conversation Friday at 7:00 p.m. And Saturday’s offerings include an illustrator raffle, bilingual story hour, writing discussions on home away from here, socio-economic diversity in children’s literature and early authors. Kristen Arnett, Joshua Bennett, Chelsea Conaboy and Lynn Steger Strong reunite to discuss “Parenthood: It Changes Everything” Saturday at 1:25 p.m. A Conversation on “Writing the Natural World” with Samaa Abdurraqib, Jason Anthony, Gregory Brown, Jennifer Lunden and Kathryn Miles takes place at 2:50 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. The day ends with a lighted crawl around the city starting at 6:30 p.m. For more information and a full schedule, visit mainewriters.org/maine-lit-fest.
More than just shelves for books
Two new independent bookstores have opened in New England. Heartleaf Books recently opened in Providence, founded and co-owned by two sisters and former librarians. The store is a co-operative, which means it is owned and operated by its employees and member owners, who buy stock in the store in exchange for discounts, voting rights and eligibility for the board of directors of Cooperative. And the owners see it as more than a bookstore, but as a community space and a gathering place, reflecting the queer and artsy side of the city. A similar sense of community space underlies Possible Futures in New Haven which describes itself as “a community reading space, a cross between a community reading room and an independent bookstore”, which curates its selection by prioritizing topics and authors who have been under-represented. And closer to home, stalwart independent Brookline Booksmith has continued to expand, taking up more than 800 square feet to showcase its vast selection of art and design books. This expansion comes after the 4,000 square feet they added in 2020. For more information on Heartleaf Books, visit heartleafbooks.com. For more information on possible futures, visit possiblefuturesbooks.com.
“The mountain and the sea” by Ray Naylor (MCD)
“Weasels in the attic” by Hiroko Oyamada, translated from Japanese by David Boyd (New Directions)
“life is everywhere” by Lucy Ives (Grey Wolf)
Choice of the week
Bonnie Atterstrom of Brookline Booksmith recommends “space invadersby Nona Fernández, translated from Spanish by Natasha Wimmer (Graywolf): “I devoured this book — or maybe it devoured me, like a dream slowly engulfing you. In a chorus of voices, a class of children struggle with their understanding of the Pinochet regime in Chile they grew up under, their experiences oscillating between their fallible memories, their infallible dreams and the incomplete picture they have of their world. . This surreal story spins on its axis like a spiral galaxy: fascinating, mysterious and unsettling in its beauty.