Participate in the Pulitzer Dialogues

Read 5 Pulitzer Titles in 5 Months!

To commemorate the centennial of the Pulitzer Prizes, six libraries from across New Mexico are partnering with the New Mexico Humanities C...

Monday, December 12, 2016

Looking for another Pulitzer Prize Winning Book?

Are you looking for more Pulitzer Prize Winners or Finalists to read? Remember that there are Pulitzer Prize Awards for books in categories other than fiction. 

One of the more interesting book categories is General Nonfiction which is awarded to “a distinguished and appropriately documented book of nonfiction by an American author that is not eligible for consideration in any other category.” As this is the "other" category, the winners and finalists are quite eclectic and include interesting topics such as science, culture, finance, crime, politics, death, civil rights, and more. Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists in this category include past Donnelly Library reading group selections such as The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, the 2011 Pulitzer Prize Winner in General Nonfiction, and Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, by S.C. Gwynne, the 2011 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in General Nonfiction.

You can read about all of the General Nonfiction winners and finalists at the Pulitzer Prizes' website here: http://www.pulitzer.org/prize-winners-by-category/223 or you can visit the book display on the first floor of Donnelly Library and check a winner or finalist out for the winter break!






Another Pulitzer Prize category for books is Biography or Autobiography which is awarded to “a distinguished and appropriately documented biography or autobiography by an American author.” The subjects of these biographies include figures such as John Adams, W.E.B. Du Bois, Edith Wharton, and more. You can read about all of the Biography or Autobiography winners and finalists at the Pulitzer Prizes' website here: http://www.pulitzer.org/prize-winners-by-category/222.





So, if you are looking for more to read, check out our Pulitzer Prize Winners and Finalists in General Nonfiction book display and the Pulitzer Prize Winners and Finalists in Biography or Autobiography book display on the first floor of Donnelly Library next to the Popular Reading section.

Donnelly Library's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Discussion Highlights

Donnelly Library had its fifth meeting of the Pulitzer Prizes Reading Group on Thursday, December 01, 2016 when we got together to discuss Junot Díaz’s novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

This was our reading group’s final meeting and discussion focused on several different themes from the novel. Discussion highlights included the below.
  • The style of the book. Díaz’s novel is full of 1980s popular culture references. Reading group members who grew up around the 1980s understood most of these references, but reading group members who grew up before or after this time period mostly missed them. This could be Díaz’s way of disorienting many of his readers and making them feel like outsiders to the characters’ lives and cultures.
  • The shifting tone of this novel also made for interesting discussion. The story starts out being very funny and then shifts to being a very serious tale. This causes a complex response in the reader as she or he follows the various characters through the different strands of the narrative.
  • The title of the novel was another highlight of the discussion. Reading group members could agree that Oscar’s life is certainly brief, but it is up for debate if his life could be called wondrous.
  • The reading group scholar brought up the parallels in Oscar’s desire for women and the dictator Trujillo legendary womanizing. This led into a discussion of whether or not the reader is supposed to find the title character Oscar likable or not. Most reading group members did not find him likable, but rather found the narrator the more sympathetic character.


What did you find most interesting about the fifth meeting’s discussion or about the novel? Please post in the comments below.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Now Reading in Albuquerque

Participants at the South Broadway Library will be discussing Beloved by Toni Morrison, on Saturday, December 17, from 2-3:30 pm.     


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Questions for Donnelly Library's Discussion of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

Donnelly Library’s Pulitzer Prize Challenge reading group has its fifth and final meeting on Thursday, December 01. Below are a few questions to think about for the upcoming discussion of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz.

Take a look at the questions and please post your own questions or discussion points for this novel in the comments below. 
  • What does Díaz reveal about Dominican history and culture in this novel?
  • From the Fantastic Four epigraph at the beginning of the book to allusions to Lord of the Rings, comic books, fantasy, and science fiction references pervade the novel. What is the role of popular culture in the novel?
  • The narrator Yunior believes that Oscar and his family are suffering from a family curse, “a high-level fukú” (152). What does Díaz show as the source of the family’s troubles? Are they indeed cursed?
  • The title of the book places Oscar as the main character, but the women of his family (La Inca, Beli, Lola) are some of the strongest characters. What is the role of women in this novel?



Donnelly Library's Lovely, Dark, Deep Discussion Highlights

Donnelly Library had its fourth meeting of the Pulitzer Prizes Reading Group on Thursday, November 10, 2016 when we got together to discuss Joyce Carol Oates’s short story collection, Lovely, Dark, Deep.

This was our reading group’s second time to meet and discuss a short story collection; at the third meeting, we had discussed Cheever’s short story collection. Oates is a divisive author. Some reading group members love Oates and some hate her writing. However, no matter how participants felt about the stories, there was dynamic discussion at our meeting. Some of the highlights from the discussion include the below. 
  • The stories focus on the relationship between the sexes and often include fragile women characters who depend on male approval, often the approval of a husband or father. The group discussed if Oates’s portrayal of women is old fashioned or if many American women today still define themselves in relation to the men in their lives.
  • Group members noted a lack of dialog between the characters in these stories or at least a lack of serious discussion between the characters. Participants observed that a lot is communicated between the characters without being said. This was seen in the first story of the collection, “Sex with Camel,” where the grandson and grandmother joke around with each other, but Oates still lets the reader know how much the characters care about each other and how ill the grandmother is.
  • Two of the stories that the discussion focused on were stories about authors: “Lovely, Dark, Deep” and “Patricide.” The group discussed why stories about authors are popular and if they may be especially appealing to authors and awards committees. These two short stories also sparked a discussion about how what we know about an author can color how we view their work. We discussed if literature should be judged entirely separately from the author and if it is possible to divorce a poem or a novel from the image of the creator.
  • Short story collections can pose difficulties for reading group discussions as there isn’t one main narrative for the group to discuss together as there is when the group is reading a novel. Reading group participants may all want to discuss different stories. On the other hand, short story collections provide reading groups with the opportunity to explore many different works by an author at one time.
Personally, reading Oates always makes me what to read more Oates (or in the case of this collection, I wanted to read more of Oates’s fiction and to revisit Robert Frost’s poetry).

What did you find most interesting about the fourth meeting’s discussion or about the short stories? Please post in the comments below.

Books truck display of books by Joyce Carol Oates,
Robert Frost's poems, and books about Frost.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Reading Now In Las Vegas!

Las Vegas readers will be discussing Joyce Carol Oates' Lovely, Dark Deep November 10 at 6:00 pm at the Thomas Donnelly Public Library.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Stories of John Cheever - South Broadway Library






On October 22nd, we met to discuss The Stories of John Cheever.  We discussed four stories in particular: Goodbye, My Brother; The Five-Forty-Eight, The Swimmer, and The Jewels of the Cabots.  The discussion began with Good-bye, My Brother and we quickly decided that Cheever's examination of family dynamics was very morose. Lawrence, the youngest brother, is quite the black sheep in the family and the events he precipitates by his presents are symbolic of the decay of the "American Dream." The Five-Forty-Eight was a psychological story about a mentally ill woman who is an agent of karma returning to exact justice on a man who preys upon women through the use of the position and power.  The narration during the train ride on the title train is superbly constructed with the use of metaphor and imagery.  The final scene left many cheering for Miss Dent as she put a "dent" in Blake's life.  The Swimmer was described as an allegory for Neddy's (The Swimmer) passage from youth to old age.  His journey from one swimming pool to another becomes increasing more difficult and each pool seems to drain his energy.  The story ends with Neddy arriving home after dark and finding the house dark and abandoned.  One can only conclude that Neddy has lost everything and is in a state of denial or delusion about his situation.  The last story we discussed was The Jewels of the Cabots.  Cheever weaves a tangled web of a story with many tangential stories including one involving a male prostitute (!).  One is uncertain of which story is the main one until the very end when we find out that Mrs. Cabot's daughter is the jewel thief who takes her mother's jewel and recreates a life for herself in Egypt.  There is the usual Cheever use of swimming that takes place at the end of story  The narrator uses swimming techniques as way to separate the classes.  The side stroke, which is proletariat and lower class, is more efficient and more conducive to lifesaving, whereas the "overhand" stroke is indicative of the upper class because it is more stylish. The narrator makes this observation while swimming in the Nile river.  In the end, Cheever's stories reflect a slice of American life that takes place during the height of the "American Dream," and while the characters may be living the dream, they are also victims of it.  Their lives are set in rigid manner that doesn't allow for much individualism, and those who express individualism are not shown in a positive light.  Our next discussion will be on "Lovely, Dark, Deep" by Joyce Carol Oates on November 19th at 2:00 pm at the South Broadway Library.

Questions for Donnelly Library's Discussion of the Lovely, Dark, Deep

Donnelly Library’s Pulitzer Prize Challenge reading group has its fourth meeting on Thursday, November 09. Below are a few questions to think about for the upcoming discussion.

Take a look at the questions and please post your own questions or discussion points for this short story collection in the comments below.
  • A common theme of the books we have read for this reading group is that characters are haunted by their pasts. What events or traumas haunt the characters of Oates’s short stories?
  • Oates writes a great deal about the relationship between the sexes in these short stories. What does she have to say about the role of women and the role of men in American society though these stories?
  • In the title story of the collection, Oates paints a dark, brutal portrait of beloved American poet Robert Frost. In this story what is Oates criticizing, Frost himself, literary celebrity, literary biographies, biographical interpretations of literature, or a combination of these things?
  • Including this short story collection, Joyce Carol Oates has been a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction finalist 4 times (her other finalist books include her novel Black Water, finalist in 1993, her novel What I Lived For, finalist in 1995, and novel Blonde finalist in 2001). Why do you think she continues to be nominated for the prize, and why does she continue not to win?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Donnelly Library's The Stories of John Cheever Discussion Highlights

Donnelly Library had its third meeting of the Pulitzer Prizes Reading Group on Thursday, October 13, 2016 when we got together to discuss The Stories of John Cheever

This was the longest and most daunting of the book selections so far at over 700 pages and including over 60 stories written over the course of Cheever’s career.  During the discussion of the short stories many different things were discussed including the below. 
  • The role of the short story in the history of American Literature and how Cheever and the magazine he published the most frequently in, the New Yorker, fit into this history. It was interesting to learn that several MFA (Master of Fine Arts) programs in writing call Cheever’s collected short stories the “Orange Bible,” and consider him to be at the height of short story craftsmanship. It was also interesting to learn from the facilitator that though Cheever is thought of as writing realistic stories, it is his surreal stories like “The Swimmer” or “The Enormous Radio” for which he is best known.
  • Several reading group participants noted Cheever’s careful and skillful use of language and imagery in his writing. Together the reading group took a close look at key phrases and sentences in several stories. 
  • The group discussed if part of Cheever’s popularity was due in part to a bias toward New York centered fiction from both publishers and literary award committees.
  • The group further discussed the literature of the postwar suburbs and how Cheever fit into this tradition. Other important works about the suburbs of 1950s America, such as Sloan Wilson’s The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Richard Yates’s Revolutionary Road, and the New Yorker short stories of John Updike, were discussed and were on the book truck display during the meeting. 
What did you find most interesting about the third meeting’s discussion or about the short stories? Please post in the comments below.


Donnelly Library's Plague of Doves Discussion Highlights

Donnelly Library had its second meeting of the Pulitzer Prizes Reading Group on Thursday, September 22, 2016 when we got together to discuss Louise Erdrich’s novel Plague of Doves. As with our first meeting, the discussion of the book and the author was lively. Some of the highlights from the discussion include the below.
  • Erasure of modern Native American lives and stories in most of American literature and how Erdrich’s novels include tales of contemporary Native Americans. 
  • How the landscape of the Great Plains is a character in the stories that comprise this novel. Reading group participants from this region remarked that her stories capture the landscape and its influence on area residents’ lives. 
  • Reading group participants also noted that this novel is more a cycle of stories than a traditional novel. It was interesting to learn that sections of the novel had been published separately as standalone short stories. 
  • Erdrich’s elliptical storytelling style was also a point of discussion. The characters and their relationships with each other unfold slowly throughout the different stories of the novel much like how we learn about other people in life. 
  • Religion and spirituality are important to many of the characters in the novel. These are important to many people, but are not always included in American literature. 
What did you find most interesting about the second meeting’s discussion or about the novel? Please post in the comments below.



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Questions for Donnelly Library's Discussion of the Stories of John Cheever

Donnelly Library’s Pulitzer Prize Challenge reading group has its third meeting on Thursday, October 13. Below are a few questions to think about for the upcoming discussion.

Take a look at the questions and please post your own questions or discussion points for these short stories in the comments below.

Questions
  1. The Pulitzer Prize for fiction is awarded to a book "preferably dealing with American life." What do Cheever's short stories say about American life? What parts of the American experience do they draw on?
  2. How reliable are the narrators of Cheever's stories? Do they tell the truth about their situations and the other characters in the stories?
  3. What do the characters in these short stories want? What is a happy ending in Cheever's stories? What are readers supposed to take away from these stories? 
  4. Why do Cheever's stories set in a particular place and time still resonate in 2016? What is the enduring appeal of stories of the suburbs? 








Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Intro to John Cheever and Questions for Goodbye, My Brother

Hello everyone!  I am writing this post as a brief biography and background about John Cheever and am giving you a few questions about the first story we are discussing.

John Cheever was born on May 27, 1912, in Quincy, Massachusetts. His father owned a shoe factory until he lost it due to the Great Depression of the 1930s (a time of severe economic hardship). His mother owned a gift shop and supported the family with the shop's profits.

The style of writing that John Cheever is known for follows the plot line:  the characters are good people who begin life with a sense of well-being and order. Later that order and well-being are stripped away and never quite fully restored.  These are themes that inundate a genre of literature known as "Cheever country."

In the end Cheever could not fit the image he carefully developed for himself— much like the fictional characters he created. John Cheever died of cancer on June 18, 1982.


By now you should have read the first story in The Stories of John Cheever.  In "Goodbye, My Brother," there are several themes:  paralysis, letting go, change, acceptance and denial.  These are all brought together in the story of a family.  Consider the following questions as you read or re-read the story:

1.  How does the house symbolize the relationship between family members?
2.  What do the wedding dress worn by Helen and the old football uniform worn by the narrator symbolize?

3.  What role does Lawrence play in the family?  What role does he play in the events of the story?
4.  Who changes in the story and who doesn't?  

Post your thoughts or questions if you have any about this story.  Stay tuned for more questions about "The Five-Forty-Eight." 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Las Cruces Readers Meet the Pulitzer Challenge!

Congratulations to all the Las Cruces readers who participated in our Pulitzer Challenge and many thanks to the amazing librarians at the Thomas Branigan Public Library for hosting the dialogues!

Deming Readers Met the Pulitzer Challenge!

Congratulations to all the Deming readers who participated in our Pulitzer Challenge and many thanks to the Waymaker Christian Bookstore and the amazing librarians at the Marshall Memorial Library for hosting the dialogues!

Gallup Readers Met the Pulitzer Challenge!

Congratulations to all the Gallup readers who participated in our Pulitzer Challenge and many thanks to the amazing librarians at the Octavia Felling Public Library for hosting the dialogues!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Reading The Stories of John Cheever at Donnelly Library, Las Vegas, NM

Donnelly Library’s Pulitzer Prize Challenge reading group has its third meeting on Thursday, October 13, 2016 to discuss The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever.

The list of my (April's) top ten favorite stories so far is below. Brandon said "The Swimmer" is his favorite Cheever story of all time. What stories stood out to you from the collection? Post your favorite stories in the comments below. 

  1. Goodbye, My Brother, p. 3-21
  2. The Enormous Radio, p. 33-41
  3. The Sorrows of Gin, p. 198-209
  4. The Day the Pig Fell into the Well, p. 219-235
  5. The Five-Forty-Eight, p. 236-247
  6. The Housebreaker of Shady Hill, p. 253-269
  7. The Country Husband, p. 325-346
  8. The Angel of the Bridge, p. 490-497
  9. The Geometry of Love, p. 549-602
  10. The Swimmer, p. 603-612



Saturday, September 24, 2016

Gallup Discussion: Golden Mongooses

This week we discussion The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao at Octavia Fellin Library in Gallup, New Mexico.  And before our discussion began there were some important things to clarify about the setting of the story and some of its symbolism.

Unlike other stories we discussed, some of our readers didn't immediately know the background of the Dominican Republic or the characters in the story.  Just reading the story, you learn a lot of more recent Dominican history, but not everyone remembers off the top of their head where the Dominican Republic is or the significance of its location.

The DR is on the island of Hispaniola.  People who know "a little" history might recall that Columbus discovered America in 1492.  The first place he "discovered" was Hispaniola, an island, and on the modern DR side of that island was where the first permanent Spanish settlement in the Americas was built, also making it the location of the first European colony in the Americas.


Notice how I said, "the modern DR side" above.  That's because, unlike most Caribbean nations, the DR has a border with another country.  Reading the story, you might not some passing references to Haitian genocide, derogatory references to Haitians, maybe a mention of looking like "you speak a little French" as a coded insult.  That's right!  The DR borders Haiti, and they have not had a healthy past. 

The DR was a Spanish colony and while they shipped a lot of slaves to the region, it wasn't half as many as were sent to Haiti for French plantations.  Skin color is a big deal in the story, and there's a lot of coded (and not so coded) language related to it.  Dark skin is usually seen as a terrible thing, handsome means white, as noted with Beli's first paramour, Jack Pujols, and when someone suggests you might speak a little French, it suggests you have darker skin, or in other words, you look Haitian.

The Sauron of our story is Rafael Trujillo or El Hefe, and he is portrayed as a pretty terrifying, incredibly evil guy.  I think the book actually gives you plenty to go off of, but I wanted to show a picture of him, because he doesn't look the super villain, child rapist, mass murdering monster that he definitely was... or at least, he doesn't look like I quite expect him to...

he looks...gassier...
Finally, let's talk about the Golden Mongoose in the story.  This is not really based on any bit of history or folklore.  So if your book club is sitting around scratching their heads and saying "What does the mongoose mean?" in deep, philosophical tones, here it is in the words of Junot Diaz, himself:
“My mother got lost when she was young in a coffee plantation (my father used to grow coffee) and she was lost for like three days and everyone thought she died and by the third day they just went and bought fucking—I mean, it shows you the difference, if a child were lost for three days today, we would still have hope, we would still be looking, but in the DR they were like ‘Three days? ’That kid’s fucking dead man’—they went out and bought funeral clothes, they were going to bury this little outfit and then my mother shows up. And my mother tells this story and she was like I had gotten lost and was just desperate and this mongoose came up and was like ‘you lost?’ ‘Well, I’m tired right now but I’ll come back tomorrow and lead you out.’ So he did and my mother arrived home the next day.” - Junot Diaz 
These are just a few things to keep in mind if you ever have a discussion or book club on this fantastic work.  A little background can help a lot when discussing a book, especially one as closely tied to a time and place as this one.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao discussion photos- South Broadway Library

Group Photo
Great discussion

More great discussion
Never a dull moment
Here are some photos from the South Broadway discussion of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao on September 17, 2016. 

Discussion Wrap-Up - The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - South Broadway Library



The discussion group met on September 17, 2016, to discuss The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.  The language, specifically the Spanglish, found throughout the book was a hot topic.  Most members believed that it added authenticity to the story and that it was Diaz’s way of portraying the Dominican Republic’s culture in an honest and forthright way. Some members felt that the sheer volume of foreign words and phrases was a little overwhelming and slowed down the reading pace.  One person remarked that they needed a glossary to get through the book.  Another major facet of the book was the idea of fuku, the curse mentioned early in the book.  There were several ideas about what the fuku was and whether or not Oscar’s family would get through it.  The level of suffering and tragedy that the family endures is legion. Each generation had its own trials and each one was literally a matter of life and death.  Each generation loses family members and it seems the next generation is achieved only because one family member survives through harrowing circumstances to procreate.  The group also discussed the way the book handled masculinity in the Dominican culture and Oscar’s struggles to live up to the expectations.  Ultimately, the big question in the book is whether or not Oscar dies a virgin or not.  While the book tells us that he does not, the evidence is self-reported by Oscar and thus, leaves room open for doubt.  The group was split on this issue. Our next book is The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever and we will meet October 22nd at 2:00 pm at the Public Library Albuquerque and Bernalillo County | South Broadway branch.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Now Reading in Gallup

Discussion of Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao will be held on Thursday evening, September 22, at the Octavia Fellin Public Library.

The Beloved Discussion Highlights

Donnelly Library had its first meeting of the Pulitzer Prizes Reading Group on Thursday, September 1, 2016 when we got together to discuss Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Discussion was lively and focused on many different themes. One of the most animated parts of the discussion was whether or not Beloved was a ghost. Reading group participants had different points of view on this issue. Some reading group participants thought she was a ghost, others not, and still others said that they had never thought about the reality of the ghost in the novel. The discussion of the ghost connected with an interesting discussion of how America is haunted by its history of slavery and how Morrison was able to vividly portray the horrors of slavery and its aftermath.

Trauma and recovery was another major topic of discussion. Reading group participants talked about how the characters in Morrison’s novel dealt in different ways with the trauma of their pasts and how they were (and weren’t) able to recover.

The theme of the relationships between mothers and daughters was talked about focusing on the relationship between Sethe and Denver and Sethe and Beloved. The constant presence of past trauma certainly affects the relationships between the generations. Group participants said they felt hopeful for Denver’s future by the end of the novel.
  
Participants also discussed with Dr. Brandon Kempner how the novel fit within the history of American literature, novels about slavery, and Toni Morrison’s place in the canon.

What did you find most interesting about the first meeting’s discussion or about the novel? Please post in the comments below.
First Meeting of the Readng Group

Monday, September 19, 2016

"The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz - Final Book Discussion at Branigan Library

Our final book discussion was on August 18.  So sorry to see it come to an end!

The theme of this book is "a hopeful quest, sad love story, a nerd hoping to have a sexual relationship, moving toward his doom". The language used in the book is somewhat different - possibly the language that the author grew up with and language of the culture.  A person may not know the exact meaning of some of the words or phrases used in the book, but gets the jest of what is being said/written.  Junot Diaz puts an insight into the novel.  He delves into the politics of their country/culture and ours.  These things need to be known/studied. 

Several participants in the book discussion commented on how they thought the footnotes were very helpful in understanding certain phrases, sections of the book and the history relating to the culture. 

The novel begins with the narrator's description of the curse, called fake americanus—a curse which was brought over to the islands of Antilles when the Europeans came. Oscar seemed to be the person that was the "victim" of his family's fukú.  Oscar is very polished, speaks in elvish - literary compliment.  He is both heroic and foolish.  He felt that this is what he had to do - his mission.

Oscar struggled with the family dynamics – the personalities of each family member, cultural background, values, and personal or family experiences.
From the start we know that Oscar is going to die - an interesting/clever way to start the book.  What is it that make his life "wondrous"?  The author is in complete control. 

 

Questions for Donnelly Library's Discussion of Plague of Doves

Donnelly Library’s Pulitzer Prize Challenge reading group has its second meeting on Thursday, September 22. Below are a few questions to think about for the upcoming discussion.

Take a look at the questions and please post your own questions or discussion points for this novel in the comments below.

Questions
  1. Although there is no ghost in Erdrich’s novel as there is in Morrison’s Beloved, the past haunts the communities of this novel. What events haunt the characters of Plague of Doves?
  2. Erdrich uses multiple narrators in this novel. Why do you think she chooses to use changing perspectives? What do the different narrators reveal about the history of the communities in this novel?
  3. How does religion and spirituality effect the different characters’ lives?  
  4. What is the role of the murder plot in this novel? Can this novel be called a murder mystery? How would you describe this novel?


Friday, September 16, 2016

About the Author: Louise Erdrich

"Louise Erdrich is the author of fifteen novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Award for Fiction. The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her debut novel, Love Medicine, was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Erdrich has received the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the prestigious PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore." From Harper Collins.

Albuquerque Dialogues Picking up Steam

Check out this video of the very first discussion at the Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Public Library's South Broadway library, on Louise Erdrich's Plague of Doves.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Columbus Readers Met the Pulitzer Challenge!

Congratulations to all the Columbus readers who participated in our Pulitzer Challenge and many thanks to the amazing librarians at the Columbus Village Library for hosting the dialogues!

Clovis Readers Met the Pulitzer Challenge!

Congratulations to all the Clovis readers who participated in our Pulitzer Challenge and many thanks to the amazing librarians at the Clovis-Carver Public Library for hosting the dialogues!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Hello everyone!  I am about halfway through the book and I'm sure all of your have noticed that there are many references throughout the book to mythical creatures, historical persons, and mucho mas Spanglish and Spanish phrases and idioms.  There is a wonderful website that will help decipher much of it.  It is especially wonderful because it is grouped by chapter and each entry is listed in the order in which it appears in the book.  Of course it is too long to print out but it is a handy reference if you want to cross reference as you read.  The website is called The Annotated Oscar Wao and the URL is http://www.annotated-oscar-wao.com/index.html . 

Please check it out and have a great day.  I can't wait to see you all next Saturday.

Malcolm

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Diaz's Language in Oscar Wao

The first thing you'll notice reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is the language. If you Google the title you'll find article after article discussing the code-switching, the use of "Spanglish," no explanation of the Spanish words, and whether Diaz did this just to frustrate readers or he did it to make a point. There is a lot to discuss in "Wondrous," but I can't imagine having a discussion on this book and not talking about the language.

Why did Diaz choose not to include English translations to his Spanish words and phrases? What effect does the seamless blending of Spanish and English create? Why does Diaz choose not to italicize Spanish words the way foreign words are usually italicized in English-language text? These are just a few things to think about as you embark on The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I've also included a recording of a 2008 NPR interview with Junot Diaz discussing his Pulitzer Prize winning novel. It's a great jumping off place for getting into the book!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Plague of Doves Recap



The first Pulitzer Challenge discussion on Saturday was a wonderful experience for us here at South Broadway Library. The dialogue was lively and people were engaged and enthusiastic. The discussion mostly centered on themes in the Plague of Doves: religion, doves, racism, guilt, the Land, small towns, Native American customs, and storytelling—just for starters. I feel like we just barely scratched the surface on some of the topics that were brought up; we certainly could have talked about the book for another hour! Not everyone liked the book and some had a difficult time with certain parts of it, but I think we all came to appreciate, or at least have a better understanding of, what Louise Erdrich was trying to accomplish with the novel.

One of my favorite parts of our discussion was digging into Dr. Cordelia Lochren’s character a bit and why she did the things she did. The notion of her family’s murderer walking around all those years with no one the wiser is unsettling. There are still some unresolved mysteries in this book. I would love to hear some thoughts from people who attended. What was your favorite/most significant part?
Stay tuned for the video coverage of the discussion!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Beloved by Toni Morrison-September 08, 2016

Let's complete our Pulitzer Prize Challenge with a Bang.  Join us at Clovis-Carver Public Library on September 08, 2016 at 6:30 to discuss Beloved.

The Brief Wondrous life of Oscar Wao Discussion Highlights

1. Questions arose about usage of foul language and how language added authenticity to the voice of the narrator.

2. Participants discussed what the criteria for a title to win a Pulitzer Prize.

3. The Fuku is mentioned throughout the novel and participants discussed the ramifications in Oscar's and his family's lives.

4. Many of the participants enjoyed learning of some of the history of Santo Domingo.

5. Participant also discussed the references to literature and what some classified as "nerd" culture.

6. Oscar's personality is multi-layered and causes him to become an outcast among his fellow Dominicans, but in the end Junior describes his death in a way that seems heroic.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pulitzer Prize Books at Donnelly Library

The Pulitzer Prizes 2016 Reading Challenge is to read five Pulitzer Fiction winners or finalists in five months, but no one says you have to stop there. If you want to read more, come by Donnelly Library and check out our Pulitzer Fiction book display on the first floor.

Want to keep track of how many Pultizer Fiction winners you have read? You can print your own Pulitzer100 bookmark checklist by visiting http://www.pulitzer.org/page/print-your-own-pulitzer100-bookmarks.



Saturday, August 20, 2016

Questions for Donnelly Library's Discussion of Beloved

Donnelly Library’s Pulitzer Prize Challenge reading group has its first meeting in a little under two weeks on Thursday, September 1. Below are a few questions to think about for the upcoming discussion.

Take a look at the questions and post your own questions or discussion points for this novel in the comments below.

Questions
  1. How does Toni Morrison connect the idea of slavery and the idea of haunting? Is America haunted?
  2. The novel is a narrative about trauma and recovery. What does it mean to recover from trauma? How does Sethe recover?
  3. This novel is about the relationships between mothers and daughters. What kinds of relationships do the characters have? How do they change over the course of the novel?
  4. Is the ghost real?