Monday, August 3, 2015

A Map That Changed the World

200 years ago today, geologist William Smith published the first geological map of Britain.  Using color, he was able to accurately depict the various rock formations, both horizontally and vertically.  For years, he traveled Britain, surveying the land and taking extensive notes.  This culminated in "the map that changed the world," which was published in 1815.  Despite his profound contribution to the field of geology, Smith spent much of his life unrecognized for his work.  He was plagiarized, cheated, and even spent time in debtors' prison.  It would be fifteen years before he would be awarded the honors he deserved, as well as a lifetime pension.

For more information on Smith's story and the effects it had on modern geology, be sure to check out The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Happy Birthday Herman Melville!

Saturday marked the 196th birthday of celebrated author Herman Melville! Although he is widely regarded as a great classic writer today, Melville was not so appreciated in his lifetime.  His first novel, Typee, was a large success.  However, the work he is perhaps best known for today, Moby Dick, was not nearly as well received.  In fact, it was considered a commercial failure at the time.  He went on to write several short stories, including the well-known Bartleby, the Scrivener, but the spark of fame he received early in his career was never rekindled in his lifetime.

Around his 100th birthday, interest in Melville reignited, and a new generation grew to appreciate his work, elevating him to the honored position he holds in the literary world today.  Nearly 100 years later, Herman Melville holds his own with other enduring literary giants such as Charles Dickens and Louisa May Alcott, and his "commercial failure" Moby Dick is universally considered a classic novel.  Whether it's Moby Dick or one of his lesser known works, commemorate Herman Melville's birthday with a good book!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Nadia Hashimi speaks to AAUW group about "The Pearl That Broke Its Shell"

Nadia Hashimi, author of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, recently spoke with the Naperville Area Branch of the American Association of University Women in Illinois about the subjugation of females in her book.  Members had read The Pearl The Broke Its Shell, and were pleased to have the opportunity to meet with Nadia to discuss her work and the issues she talks about in it.

AAUW focuses heavily on pushing and empowering women through education, so Nadia's work invited fruitful and relevant discussion on the role of women, both what it is and what it should be.  The group said that, "although most of the time they felt sad and very concerned about the outcome for each character, there is an element of hope at the end of each woman’s story that mitigates the sorrow."

Nadia continues her involvement with AAUW in the fall, when she will be a guest speaker at a luncheon.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Obituary for the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet James Tate

Prolific poet James Tate passed away last Friday at the age of 71. You can read the full New York Times obituary here.
Often praised for his simplicity, and his ability to find the comedy in tragic scenes, Tate won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for Selected Poems, a collection culled from 9 volumes of his poetry. Then, in 1994, he was awarded the National Book Award for his collection Worshipful Company of Fletchers. The next year the Academic of American Poets honored him with the Wallace Stevens Award. He taught poetry at several universities, including Berkeley, Columbia, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he remained since 1971, and where his wife also taught. 

His seventeenth collection of poetry, Dome of the Hidden Pavilion, will be published by Ecco in August. You can preorder it here

Click here to hear Tate reading one of his earliest and most famous poems, "The Lost Pilot." 
And to see more of Tate's work, please visit our new online poetry catalog here

Friday, July 10, 2015

Read the First Chapter of Harper Lee's GO SET A WATCHMAN!

Today, the first chapter of Harper Lee's Go Set A Watchman was released in the Wall Street Journal! Read it (or listen to Reese Witherspoon's audiobook narration) here

The much-anticipated book will be released next Tuesday in full! You can pre-order it here

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Richard Blanco Launches "Bridges to/from Cuba"

Inaugural poet Richard Blanco just launched Bridges to/from Cuba, a writing project intended to lift what he calls Cuba’s “emotional embargo.” He and his co-creator, Ruth Behar, were prompted by what they feel is a distorted image of Cuba that has emerged in the wake of the recent, historic d├ętente between the US and Cuba.
"I think what we want to do is broaden people's minds, both Cuban-Americans and Cubans on the island," Blanco said. "Giving them things to think about: How emotionally we move forward, and each other's responsibility to each other's stories and how we can merge those stories."
Blanco’s wonderful memoir, The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood, explores his coming-of-age as the child of Cuban immigrants and his attempts to understand his place in America while grappling with his burgeoning artistic and sexual identities. It was recently chosen as Florida International University’s freshman common read. 
Click here to see a video of Richard speaking about growing up between cultures at the 2015 FYE annual conference

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ecco Publisher Dan Halpern Honored With the 2015 Maxwell E. Perkins Award

Dan Halpern, Publisher and President of Ecco, was just named the recipient of its 2015 Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction—an award that recognizes an editor, publisher, or agent who over the course of his or her career has discovered, nurtured, and championed writers of fiction in the United States.
Dan is the author of nine collections of poetry, most recently Something Shining. For 25 years, Halpern edited the international literary magazine Antaeus, which he founded in Tangier with Paul Bowles. He has received many grants and awards, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and taught at Columbia University, The New School, and Princeton University. In 1978, he founded The National Poetry Series with James A. Michener, which oversees the publication of five books of poetry every year.  
Among the authors he has worked with at both Ecco and Antaeus are Cormac McCarthyLouise GluckRichard FordAnthony BourdainJoyce Carol OatesAmy TanTom RobbinsJorie GrahamPhilipp MeyerLeonard Cohen, Lawrence Durrell, John FowlesRussell BanksRobert StonePatti SmithTobias WolffCharles SimicItalo CalvinoPaul Bowles, Pete Dexter, Gay TaleseErica JongVendela VidaT.C. BoyleJorge Luis BorgesJohn Ashbery, William Burroughs, William T. Vollmann, Tennessee Williams, Nell Freudenberger, Mark Strand, Natasha Trethewey, and many others.
Please join us in congratulating Dan on this much-deserved achievement!