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The Enduring Relevance of The Grapes of Wrath

By Brian Hoey. May 6, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize Winners

Since its publication in 1939, John Steinbeck’s magnum opus The Grapes of Wrath has been one of the most read, most studied, and most talked about works of American literature. The novel earned Steinbeck a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize in addition to being cited by the committee that awarded him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962. Indeed, Steinbeck’s depiction of the Joad family’s journey across Dust Bowl era America has been adapted for both stage and screen, in addition to being marked indelibly into the American imagination, finding new relevance with each passing generation.

     
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Five Mexican Authors You Should Read on Cinco de Mayo

By Adrienne Rivera. May 5, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Latin American Authors

Contrary to common American belief, Cinco de Mayo is not, in fact, Mexican Independence Day, which is actually September 16. Rather, Cinco de Mayo is a holiday celebrating the Mexican Army's victory over French forces in the Battle of Puebla. The battle was fought in 1862 in response to Napoleon III invading Mexico in an effort to claim debts owed and establish an empire in Latin America. While this victory itself did not win the war, it boosted the army's morale and proved to Mexican citizens that their country stood a chance against the greatest army in the world.

Today it has come to be a celebration of Mexican culture all around the world, with events held in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and more. This year, try celebrating by reading a few of these Mexican authors. They bring an important perspective to the landscape of both Mexican literature and world literature as a whole.

     
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Quo Vadis & Beyond: Henryk Sienkiewicz's Notable Works

By Leah Dobrinska. May 4, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Nobel Prize Winners

Polish-born author Henryk Sienkiewicz made a name for himself in his homeland as a journalist and novelist. His influence was great, and his writing was highly esteemed, and in 1905, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Sienkiewicz was the major literary figure in turn-of-the-century Poland. Still, having peaked in popularity and winning the Prize over a century ago, one may assume that much of Sienkiewicz’s work has faded into history, but the contrary remains true. Thanks to numerous quality translations, movie adaptations, and Sienkiewicz’s own ability to write compelling pieces, a number of his works are still quite popular. For those interested in reading or collecting Sienkiewicz, here’s a look at a few of his most notable publications.

     
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Collecting the Complicated Classics of Caribbean Literature

By Audrey Golden. May 3, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Book Collecting, Literature

Maybe you visited the Bahamas on a recent vacation. Or perhaps you’ve enrolled in a postcolonial literature course. Whatever the reason, we’re excited anytime readers want to begin collecting the complicated classics of Caribbean literature. Why are the classics complicated, you ask? In short, the Caribbean is a fluid region that has been shaped by many different cultural practices from various regions of the globe. Given that the islands in this part of the world have been subject to colonization by numerous European nations while also playing a key geographic role in the transatlantic slave trade, the layers of Caribbean literary history are deeply entwined in histories of imperialism and violence. Where should you begin if you want to start a collection of literature from this region? We’ll suggest a couple writers and titles to get you started.

     
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Władysław Reymont's Unlikely Journey to the Nobel Prize

By Matt Reimann. May 2, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners

Before he won the Nobel Prize in 1924, Władysław Reymont lived like a vagabond. Trained to be a tailor, Reymont never worked a day in his trade. Instead, he preferred the company of traveling performers and dreamed of making it in show business. Life on stage took its toll, however, and Reymont returned home penniless and took up jobs he little enjoyed. He kept at his doomed theatrical dreams for a bit longer, that is, before he left them behind to become one of the greatest writers Poland has ever known.

     
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Four Examples of May Day in Literature

By Nick Ostdick. May 1, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature, Book History, History

For many bibliophiles, the month of May means the beginning of summerlonger days, warmer weather, and the unofficial start of “beach read” season. But May 1 packs a much more significant historical and cultural punch, the essence of which many authors have tried to capture in their stories and novels during the last 100 years.

     
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Where Eternity Clips Time: The Transcendentalism of Annie Dillard

By Brian Hoey. Apr 30, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

When one reads Henry David Thoreau’s Walden (1854)which finds Thoreau hosting frequent visitors in a cabin beside a tourist-infested lakeit’s easy to imagine that the author might not be well-suited to real, honest-to-goodness solitude. When one reads Annie Dillard, by contrast, it’s hard to imagine her enjoying anything but solitude. While Dillardwho gained significant acclaim as a writer of fiction and creative non-fiction pursuant to the publication of such works as The Writing Life (1989) and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974)essentially reprises Thoreau’s mission of transcendent solitude in nature with the latter book of nonfiction, her unique and fiery prose imbues all that she sees with fleeting snatches of the divine. This ability has gained her a surprising epithet (‘One of the foremost horror writers of the 20th century’) and, less surprisingly, a devoted readership.

     
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5 Contemporary Poets You Should Be Reading Right Now

By Nick Ostdick. Apr 29, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Pulitzer Prize, Latin American Authors

“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry...Is there any other way?”

That’s Emily Dickinson in the late 1870s talking about how she defines that inexplicable moment when a poem moves youwhen a piece of poetry elicits an emotional, non-rational, sometimes transcendent response as you subconsciously identify with an image, a moment, a phrase, a scene. It’s an experience that’s often difficult to intellectualize and describe, and sadly, one that many casual readers can’t easily access as poetry is pushed more and more to the fringes of contemporary publishing, relegating it to near niche status.

     
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Revisiting the Good (and Bad) Aspects of Go Set a Watchman's Release

In February, the New York Post discovered Harper Lee had been keeping a Manhattan apartment for ten years. She renewed the lease on the enviable, $900-per-month Upper East Side dwelling just a few months prior to her death. Her neighbors remembered her fondly, noting her love of Sunday crosswords. The local butcher too recalled her kind requests for select cuts of meat. Lee had not visited the apartment since her stroke in 2007, but it is remarkable how this secret had been preserved until the very end. Especially when one considers the public appetite for all things Harper Lee.

     
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The Legacy of Ludwig Bemelmans

By Adrienne Rivera. Apr 27, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Children's Books

For many small children outside of Europe, their first ideas of Paris come from a children's book, and for them, the heart of the city is a vine-covered old house full of little girls in yellow dresses, the smallest and most important being Madeline. The man behind the first seven Madeline books (the series has since been picked up by his grandson) was Ludwig Bemelmans. Though he published over forty-six books in his lifetime and posthumously, it is for Madeline that he is most fondly remembered.

     
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