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Yasunari Kawabata, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

By Audrey Golden. Mar 23, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

There are many authors who have won the Nobel Prize in Literature whose works enjoy continued success throughout the United States and in many parts of the world. Some Nobel laureates, however, have not remained as well-known as others. In the event that you have not been introduced to the lyrical, lonely writings of Yasunari Kawabata, we’d like to present you with some background information about this writer, who was also the first Japanese winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. In brief, he was born in Osaka, Japan in 1899 and committed suicide in 1972. Much of his most famous fiction is set just before and after World War II. In total, he wrote more than one dozen novels and short stories, although not all of them were finished. If you’re interested in reading more about this Japanese writer, where should you start?

     
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Five of the Best Books on India

By Audrey Golden. Mar 18, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners, Literary travel

The Indian subcontinent is extremely large, including the nations of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Yet those nations have not always been separate. To be sure, the subcontinent was divided during the India-Pakistan Partition of 1947, and years later in 1971, Bangladesh (which was, at the time, East Pakistan), gained its independence. Given the complicated modern political history, it’s especially difficult to select only a handful of texts to represent the best books on India. As such, we’re beginning with an early twentieth-century work and then jumping immediately to the period following Bangladeshi independence, and we’re also offering the following books with the caveat that we haven’t even really scratched the surface of the literary offerings of the large Indian subcontinent.

     
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Celebrating the Life of Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott

By Lauren Corba. Mar 17, 2017. 3:22 PM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

"for what else is there
but books, books and the sea,
verandahs and the pages of the sea,
to write of the wind and the memory of wind-whipped hair
in the sun, the colour of fire!"
-- Derek Walcott,  Collected Poems 1948-1984  

Caribbean writer and Nobel Prize in Literature winner Derek Walcott passed away early this morning. He was 87 years old. We thought we'd take a moment today to celebrate Walcott's life and influence.

     
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Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Finland

By Audrey Golden. Mar 15, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature, Literary travel

Are you planning a trip to the Nordic countries anytime soon? If you’ll find yourself in Finland, there are dozens of rare and antiquarian bookstores to keep you busy as you explore Helsinki on foot, and there are more shops scattered north of the capital city. There are nineteen members of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) in the country, and fifteen are located in Helsinki. Many have storefronts with regular hours if you’re planning to wander around the city, while some others require an appointment to visit the shop. And if you decide to take a quick ferry trip across the Baltic like so many in southern Finland do, you can even add an Estonian used, rare, and antiquarian bookstore to your itinerary. 

     
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Win the Man Booker Prize, Sell More Books!

By Anne Cullison. Mar 14, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature

The Man Booker Prize was created in 1969 with the aim of promoting the finest in fiction by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, or the Republic of Ireland written during the preceding year. Prize winners are chosen by judges who make the selections for the best novel based on personal opinion alone. The cash value of this Prize is relatively low, with winners receiving only £50,000. However, the Man Booker Prize draws attention to works of fiction which might otherwise have gone unnoticed. As Ion Trewin, the late Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation stated, the true prize for the winners is the “significant increase in the sales of the winning book.” With a prize that is based wholly on opinion, it should come as no surprise that there have been more than a few controversies surrounding the Man Booker Prize over the years.

     
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Family Endurance: The Vicar of Wakefield

By Claudia Adrien. Mar 11, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literature

Published in 1766, The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith became one of the most widely read novels of the Victorian era. It is widely referenced in British literaturefrom Charles Dickens' Tale of Two Cities to Jane Austen's Emma and George Eliot's Middlemarch. A book about family endurance, the drama surrounds the characters of the Primrose family: Dr. Primrose as the Vicar of Wakefield, his wife, and their many children. The Primrose's idyllic country life is turned upside down when they lose their financial footing and a daughter is abducted.

     
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Researching in the J.M. Coetzee Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

In 1969, the Nobel Prize-winning South African novelist J.M. Coetzee received his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin after writing a dissertation on the early work of the Irish writer Samuel Beckett. That same year, Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. More than forty years after earning his Ph.D.—and after having written nearly a dozen novels and numerous works of criticism—in 2011 the University of Texas at Austin acquired the author's papers to be held in the Harry Ransom Center. The archive contains nearly 160 boxes of material, including drafts of his novels and of his autobiography, personal and business correspondence, family photographs, and recorded interviews. While the novelist was born in South Africa and recently has become an Australian citizen, it seems to make sense that his literary archive would be housed at the location that helped to shape his understanding of literature and its role in politics.

     
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Famous Writers Who Lived in New York City's Chelsea Hotel

By Audrey Golden. Feb 28, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Literary travel

If you are interested in New York’s twentieth-century literary history, it’s likely that you already have some familiarity with the Chelsea Hotel. Since the hotel’s opening in 1884, it has served as the home for many different famous American and British writers, from Mark Twain to Dylan Thomas to the infamous Sid Vicious of Sex Pistols fame. Many other musicians also lived in the rooms at the Chelsea, including dozens of those who are also recognized poets, such as Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. In 1974, Leonard Cohen wrote and performed “Chelsea Hotel No. 2,” a song about a love affair inside one of the rooms. Now, the hotel is closed to guests, allegedly undergoing renovations.

     
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David Hockney’s Illustrations of the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales

By Audrey Golden. Feb 24, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literature

David Hockney is an English artist who is well known for his portraits, photocollages, and etchings, as well as for his connection to the Pop Art movement of the 1950s and 1960s. His works are owned by museums across the globe, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Australia, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, the Tate Gallery in London, and Paris’s Centre Georges Pompidou. In short, Hockney’s paintings and photocollages are featured in the permanent collections of some of the most renowned art museums in the world. But that’s not why we’re writing to you today. While Hockney’s most famous works might be large-scale paintings and prints, we’re excited to introduce you to some of his etchings for the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, which appeared in a book published by Petersburg Press in London (1970).

     
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Literary Giants and the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm

By Audrey Golden. Feb 22, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

We recently visited the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, hoping to catch a glimpse of some objects or rare first editions by some of our favorite Nobel Prize-winning authors. Despite awarding more than 100 prizes to literary giants alone over the last century or so, the museum is actually a bit smaller than you might expect. As a result, you’ll find most literary objects on display at the museum as part of temporary or traveling exhibitions. There are a handful of what we suspect are permanent exhibits—including Maya traje belonging to Rigoberta Menchú Tum and a small hippopotamus figurine belonging to Mario Vargas Llosa. What are some of the recent temporary exhibits that gave visitors access to other objects and books of winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature? Let’s take a look. 

     
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How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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