Women's National Book Association | NYC Chapter http://wnba-nyc.org Connecting, educating, advocating, and leading since 1917 Wed, 27 Dec 2017 15:53:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://i2.wp.com/wnba-nyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/wnbaNewYorkCity.jpg?fit=32%2C32 Women's National Book Association | NYC Chapter http://wnba-nyc.org 32 32 57957015 WNBA Award Presentation to Dr. Carla Hayden http://wnba-nyc.org/wnba-award-presentation-to-dr-carla-hayden/ Wed, 27 Dec 2017 15:30:07 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9242 Last month, the WNBA presented Dr. Carla Hayden, the fourteenth Librarian of Congress, with one of the two centennial WNBA Awards!

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Carla Hayden

Dr. Carla Hayden accepts the WNBA Award

The Women’s National Book Association has presented the WNBA Award since 1940 to a living woman who has gone above and beyond in her support of books. In honor of the WNBA Centennial, two woman were selected to be honored by the WNBA Award committee: Dr. Carla Hayden and Louise Erdrich. Both have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to books; Hayden through her work with libraries and library patrons, and Erdrich through her authorship and bookstore.

On November 7th at the Pen + Brush gallery, members of the Women’s National Book Association New York and National chapters personally presented Dr. Carla Hayden with the 2017 WNBA Award honoring her for her work as a librarian in Chicago and Baltimore, her leadership as president of the American Library

Carla Hayden

Valerie Tomaselli (right) Presents Dr. Hayden (left) with Women in the Literary Landscape

Association (2003-04) and her role as the fourteenth Librarian of Congress (2016-present).

 

Jane Kinney-Denning, President of the WNBA Executive Board, welcomed everyone to the event, including Dr. Hayden’s mother, Colleen Hayden, by giving a brief history of the Women’s National Book Association and all the organization has accomplished in the past 100 years.

Valerie Tomaselli, co-editor of the WNBA Centennial publication, spoke about the history of the WNBA Award and the past woman who have been honored, including Anne Caroll Moore (1940), Eleanor Roosevelt (1961), Nancy Pearl (2004), and Masha Hamilton (2010), among others. Tomaselli also presented copies of the upcoming publication of Women in the Literary Landscape: A Centennial Publication of the Women’s National Book Association to Hayden and her guests.

Rosalind Reisner, co-editor with Tomaselli of the WNBA Centennial book, presented the WNBA Award to Hayden, reading the calligraphed inscription: 

The Women’s National Book Association presents the 2017 Centennial WNBA Award to

Carla Hayden

In recognition of her commitment to making libraries relevant, responsive, and vital to the communities they serve;

For her service as fourteenth Librarian of Congress;

For her service to the people of Baltimore as CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, during which she increased access, developed after-school programs, and made libraries community gathering placed in difficult times, resulting in being named Librarian of the Year;

For her service as President of the American Library Association in 2003-2004;

For her demonstrated commitment to the privacy of library users and equity of access;

WNBA is proud to honor the exceptional book woman, whose work has gone above and beyond the duties of her profession to serve as a beacon to women and men, to people of color, and to the transformative power of books.

 

Dr. Hayden’s WNBA Award

Dr. Hayden thanked everyone for their kind words and said she already had plans of where she would place the award in her office; she then thanked her mother for reading to her so much as a child. Hayden recalled coming home after her first day of school at age six and telling her mother that she had learned to read. Her mother thought she was humoring her by asking her to sit and read from several books, but, after reading a few lines from different books, it was apparent that she was telling the truth; Dr. Hayden was subsequently promoted by her teacher to the second grade! Dr. Hayden credited her love of books to her mother and the foundation she gave her in the years that they read together. The anecdote Dr. Hayden shared conveys how the education and support of literacy can lead to the empowerment of individuals and in turn their communities. The WNBA Award recognizes and celebrates those achievements as part of the WNBA’s overarching mission of “Connecting, Educating, Advocating, & Leading Since 1917.”


Laurel Stokes is a Client Support Manager for Penguin Random House Publisher Services. She is responsible for supporting several Client Publishers, and specializes in project management and solving operational issues. Laurel has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Mount Holyoke College. She lives in New York City.

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The Reader’s View: Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere http://wnba-nyc.org/the-readers-view-celeste-ng/ Wed, 20 Dec 2017 15:35:06 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9249 This month's The Reader's View takes on Celeste Ng's new and widely acclaimed novel Little Fires Everywhere, which takes on motherhood in suburbia.

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Before you read on about Celeste Ng’s recent novel Little Fires Everywhere, don’t forget to submit your member news for The Bookwoman! Submissions will be collected for the semi-annual chapter and member news edition. Each news item should be a maximum of 20 words; any book news should include cover art. If you have something you’d like to submit or have any questions, please send them to blog@wnba-nyc.org no later than tomorrow, December 21st.


Celeste NgThe Richardson family is proud to be residents of Shaker Heights, a wealthy community with historic roots. When Mrs. Richardson, mother of four teenagers, rents an apartment to the artist Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl, she believes that she has made a philanthropic gesture. What she has truly brought to Shaker Heights, however, is Mia Warren’s entirely different way of life — and motherhood — that contrasts sharply with her own.

The complexities of motherhood — and the question of what makes a good mother — are at the heart of Celeste Ng’s tender, intelligent, and empathetic new novel Little Fires Everywhere.

Mia and her daughter are nomads, migrating every few months as Mia takes odd jobs to support the pair and enable the wholehearted pursuit of her art. In sharp contrast is Mrs. Richardson (referred to almost exclusively by her married title) who grew up in Shaker Heights, departing only for college before settling back into a life of stability and middle class affluence. That the rules she has lived by could be so blatantly disregarded astonishes Mrs. Richardson, who views her new tenant with a mixture of awe, pity, and mistrust.

“A part of her wanted to study Mia like an anthropologist, to understand why — and how — she did what she did. Another part of her — though she was only vaguely aware of it at that moment — was uneasy, wanted to keep an eye on Mia, as you might keep your eye on a dangerous beast.”

The fascination with alternative lifestyles surfaces repeatedly as the children of the two families interact. Mia and Pearl’s immaterialistic life, where they gather bare necessities from thrift stores and street corners, fascinates the Richardson children, who are each drawn to the warmth and kindness of Mia’s home. Pearl, in turn, falls instantly for the stability and comfort of the Richardson house, marveling at the deep roots that connect the family members to each other and their community. This sudden intimacy between the families breeds a voyeuristic curiosity in both mothers, who quietly observe — and judge — each other.

The true battle between Mia and Mrs. Richardson takes place, not in their own homes, but through the lens of a controversial adoption that rattles Shaker Heights and places the women on opposing sides. As the case unfolds, issues of race, class, and single motherhood are tried alongside the arguments of the birth mother and the adoptive parents. In this desperate setting, Mia and Mrs. Richardson’s worldviews openly clash, and the definition of motherhood is dissected on the public stage.

Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere offers a poignant look at one of the most powerful, primal, and passionate relationships that humans can experience: motherhood. In her exploration, however, Ng is consistently gentle and even-handed, refusing to pass judgement on any character’s relationship with motherhood. This empathy and tenderness captures the complexity of motherhood without defining it, instead depicting how profoundly our idea of motherhood — and what makes a good mother — shapes our relationships with our families and communities.


Looking for something else to read? Check out last month’s The Reader’s View on Angelica Baker’s Our Little Racket.

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Members Write Now: Sherring Dartiguenave http://wnba-nyc.org/members-write-now-sherring-dartiguenave/ http://wnba-nyc.org/members-write-now-sherring-dartiguenave/#comments Wed, 06 Dec 2017 15:00:31 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9232 In this month's Members Write Now, Sherring Dartiguenave's personal essay expresses the path to finding expression through the color of her wardrobe.

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In this month’s Members Write Now, Sherring Dartiguenave shares a personal essay about finding expression through the colors in her wardrobe.


A Shade of Red for Every Woman

As a teenager, the only red you’d find on me was my nail polish. Even then it was hidden. Red was reserved for my toes, while my fingernails were coated in hues of brown. Only when the bottles were lined up could you tell the slight variations in color. Lip balms and glosses were clear or a slight tint of pink, another color I avoided.

My conservative attire in my teens and early twenties was drab and dreary, though I coordinated from my hair accessories and costume jewelry right down to my socks. I wasn’t goth dressed in all black, but everything was dark. Dark blue. Dark green. Dark brown. I was taught to do laundry by separating clothes into lights, whites and darks. My darks were always a mountainous pile.

When my mother passed away, my aunties ensured I followed Haitian culture protocol which dictated that I was to wear dark clothes, but more importantly, not to wear any red for at least two years, as a sign of grief and respect. To my dismay, my aunt—my father’s sister—sifted through my clothing and removed anything that contained red. I was especially heartbroken when a dark turquoise shirt with faux suspenders made of buttons was strewn on the pile on the carpeted floor.

I mustered the courage to request that the suspender-shirt be spared. Seeing the desperation on my face, my aunt acquiesced, but removed the single, offending, red button. I didn’t care about the gap where the button once was. I was satisfied with my victory of saving one of my favorite shirts.

Unbeknownst to me, I associated the color red with my mother’s death. After she was gone, dark clothes were what I was accustomed to wearing, so every summer while shopping for clothes for the upcoming schoolyear, that’s what I selected. My father’s only issue was that I didn’t choose enough dresses and skirts. If I did, I was sure to buy dark, thick leggings to wear underneath.

In my early twenties I audited my wardrobe to get rid of no-longer-worn and ill-fitting items in an attempt to declutter my closet and drawers. Standing before my closet, I faced a wall of dark clothes. It was depressing. I remembered the fashion tips from the many magazines I subscribed to. “Add pizazz,” or “spice up an outfit” by adding a statement piece of a bright color. That suggested color was often…red.

I grew up a shy loner, though I longed to be one of the boisterous, popular kids. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve shed some of the shyness, but it’s still a struggle. I try not to blend in or hide, starting with and including my clothes. I buy brighter colors and patterns. I’ve always loved plaid, but I had to ease into wearing red. I still feel like it’s such a bold, rich color, announcing “Look at me!” which is what I want, and don’t want, at the same time.

To be different I actually prefer, instead of having to remind myself, to seek something colorful or red, especially if it isn’t the norm. A stranger might think my favorite color is red. Several times when I upgraded my Motorola cell phone to another model, I chose the red in lieu of the black or metal-gray. My Dell laptop came in two color options. I went with the red, and bought a mousepad to match. To this day, a favorite purse—one I get complimented on—is a twenty-year-old red leather BCBG handbag. I have a red umbrella. I wear red nail polish on my fingers, and red lipstick on my lips. I don red lingerie.

A few years ago, I bought two, form-fitting, red dresses. One was a mock-turtleneck sweater dress; the other a cocktail dress. I’ve worn the sweater dress exactly three times. I haven’t dared to wear the cocktail dress yet.

Last winter, as I adjusted my red Isotoner gloves that matched my red knit hat, I wondered how much longer I’d have to wear gloves before warm weather arrived. I also wondered if I’d finally wear that red dress.


Sherring DartiguenaveSherring Dartiguenave is an editorial professional with over fifteen years of experience in book, magazine, and online publishing. She earned a BA in Writing, Literature & Publishing from Emerson College, and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from The New School University. She lives in Brooklyn and is the Treasurer of the NY chapter of the Women’s National Book Association. Follow her blog justsherring.com and on Twitter @sher_ring.

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WNBA Centennial: Looking Back, Forward, and Out http://wnba-nyc.org/wnba-centennial-looking-back-forward/ Thu, 30 Nov 2017 15:00:58 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9222 As cake was cut, awards were presented, and champagne bottles were popped, a sense of community and a shared love of reading pervaded the WNBA Centennial Celebration on Saturday, October 29th, as did the sense that looking back at 100 years is only the beginning. For all our shared history,…

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First; books of 1917; historical fictionAs cake was cut, awards were presented, and champagne bottles were popped, a sense of community and a shared love of reading pervaded the WNBA Centennial Celebration on Saturday, October 29th, as did the sense that looking back at 100 years is only the beginning.

looking

Emma Straub, Margo Jefferson, and Jane Kinney-Denning
Photo Credit Celine Keating

For all our shared history, National President Jane Kinney-Denning proclaimed, “We still have an important and powerful role to play in creating a just society” and reminded us that, before women had the right to vote, “We championed democracy, meritocracy, and we welcomed immigrants.”

She expounded on the ways in which the power of books can be realized, a resounding theme in the evening’s speeches. That power, indisputable among those gathered at Pen + Brush, is only one of the fundamental concepts behind the WNBA. Valerie Tomaselli, the Centennial Chair, reminded us of “the simple idea of the Women’s National Book Association: the power to change” society as a collective group.

The Little Free Library Team
Photo Credit Liberty Schauf

As Susan Larson presented the Second Century Award to Little Free Library, she also proclaimed that “We know what the power of shared reading can be.” And shared reading is what chapters are doing. During one of the chances to mingle throughout the evening, Tabitha Wissemore, President of the DC chapter, enthused about the monthly reading groups her chapter holds with women authors.

Next up for the WNBA to read together is Women in the Literary Landscape: A Centennial Publication of the Women’s National Book Association. At its official launch, co-editor Rosalind Reisner held the book up to cheers and applause with the announcement, “Here it is!,” before she looked at the women who founded the WNBA, “champions of the power of books to change the world.”

Rosalind Reisner Presents Women in the Literary Landscape
Photo Credit Liberty Schauf

The book explores the evolution of women’s involvement in and influence on the literary world. Tomaselli said, following the talks, that “Hearing Roz read…on the current literary state was really interesting, a crowning experience of the Centennial.” The book holds significant inspiration from the women involved in the WNBA to the programs the group has developed.

Sherring Dartiguenave, Treasurer of the NYC Chapter, shared that WNBA programs inspire and motivate her: “…because I participated in open mic, I started writing my first book.” But inspiration isn’t the only benefit of the WNBA that the Centennial underlined.

PACE University student Shimma Almabruk found opportunities to learn through the event. She thought the talks were “refreshing. I learned so much here.” The evening’s aptly-titled panel, “Transformative Role of Literature in Our Society” gave more opportunities for attendees to learn, laugh, and bond.

Panelists’ books
Photo Credit Liberty Schauf

In honor of the power of community and shared reading, consider looking at one of the book recommendations from the panelists. Margo Jefferson recommended Dear Friend I Write to Your from My Life to Your Life, by Yiyun Li, Dierdre Bair cited Margo’s memoir Negroland, Roxana Robinson suggested readers pick up After the Eclipse: A Mother’s Murder, A Daughter’s Search, by Sarah Perry, and Emma Straub raved about Meg Wolitzer’s upcoming The Female Persuasion.


By Katherine Akey and Sheila Lewis

Katherine Akey is the Blog Manager for the WNBA-NYC chapter, a copywriter, and an all-around bookworm who enjoys reading classics, literary fiction, and just about anything that crosses her desk.

Sheila Lewis is a writer, editor, and recent co-author of My Calm Place: Yoga, Mindfulness & Meditation Strategies for Children (pesipublishing.com), with 50 exercises that match her passion for meditation with effective learning techniques. She teaches classes and workshops at the JCC and citywide. She has been a WNBA member since 2008. Contact her at sheilaklewis@gmail.com.

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Ladies Who Brunch Discusses The Honeymoon by Dinitia Smith http://wnba-nyc.org/ladies-brunch-discusses-honeymoon-dinitia-smith/ Mon, 27 Nov 2017 16:00:35 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9216 Dinitia Smith, author of The Honeymoon, talked to the Ladies Who Brunch about her novel based on the brief marriage of novelist George Eliot.

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The Honeymoon

Alicja Wesolowska,Eileen Donovan, Rachel Slaiman, Dinitia Smith, Jill Wisoff, and Esther Krivda

Historical novels take a specific aspect of a person’s life and craft a story around the inner details that are often lost to history.  This month, the Ladies Who Brunch discussed The Honeymoon by Dinitia Smith. 

The novel explores different kinds of love, redemption, and happiness in an imperfect marriage.  This book is based on the life of Mary Ann Evans, who, under her famed pen name George Eliot, wrote Middlemarch.  Smith recounts Eliot’s honeymoon in Venice in 1880 following her marriage to John Walter Cross, a man 20 years her junior.  The most shocking part of this tale is that she is considered too plain to marry.

Mary Ann’s “plainness” isn’t the sole imperfection in the novel: other characters in the novel also experience some kind of deficiency.  Mary Ann’s insecurity finds its basis in her perceived lack of physical beauty that results in her own dependency, insecurity, and neediness.  What’s worse, she only feels good if a man makes her feel worthy.

Dinitia Smith reading from her novel

John Cross, meanwhile, grapples with his own possible homosexuality based on his interest in Willie. John must confront the question whether there is a spark between husband and wife at all.

The author of this novel, which is so rich in themes, ideas, and complex characters, sat down with the group to discuss her writing and the novel.  She went into great detail about her research and travels to different locations to develop the backgrounds of her novels.

Dinitia Smith (center) signing novels
Left to right: Alicja Wesolowska, Dinitial Smith, and Jill Wisoff

Smith has four other successful books: The Illusionist, The Hard Rain, Remember This, and Marchand d’Amour.  Her newest novel is about Jerusalem.

Ladies Who Brunch will be reading two novels next: Salt Houses by Hala Alyan and A Long Time Gone by Karen White. The discussion will be on January 13, 2018 at 11 am in the Marlton Hotel in NYC.


Rachel SlaimanRachel Slaiman is a published freelance writer of several articles in both print and online as well an editor and copy editor of aspiring author’s manuscripts.  She is currently the co-recording secretary for the WNBA and co-chair for the Brooklyn Book Festival.  Rachel holds a B.A. in Communications and a M.S. from Pace University.  In her spare time, she enjoys reading and writing short stories.

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Weekend Reads: Books on Family http://wnba-nyc.org/weekend-reads-books-on-family/ Wed, 22 Nov 2017 15:00:34 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9203 Whether you're traveling or staying at home this weekend, one of these books about family will go great with a side of pie and cookies!

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When racking your brain for things do in lieu of watching football this long weekend, here are a few more possibilities, in the form of books about family! The weather is brisk, the leaves have fallen (or some of them have), and the pie is on the table, which is the perfect time to curl up with a book – probably grab some pie first, though.

In honor of a time when many gather with loved ones, these selections feature families, whether functional or otherwise. Mostly otherwise.


Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

After being unceremoniously left by her fiancé, Ruth agrees to go home for one year to take care of her father, a history professor who has been forced to stop teaching due to his dementia. With the backdrop of her father’s increasing confusion and her mother’s guilt, she seeks a way forward for herself.


familyMy Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris (Vol. 1)

This entirely hand-drawn—in PEN—graphic novel is the fictional 1960s diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, who is trying to discover who murdered her upstairs neighbor, a Holocaust survivor. With a superstitious mother and an older brother whose involvement seems murky, Karen imagines herself as a werewolf detective.

 


Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jessmyn Ward

The National Book Award winner in fiction this year, this book features three generations of a family. When Jojo’s father is due to be released from prison, his mother takes him, his younger sister Kayla, and the ghost of her brother on a road trip, leaving Jojo’s grandfather behind to take care of his sick wife.


Swell by Jill Eisenstadt

Shortly after moving into a decrepit beachside home in Rockaway following 9/11, pregnant Sue deals with her impending conversion to Judaism while her daughter learns to care for an egg for school. Meanwhile, their neighbor Tim grapples with knowing a different family’s drama and with his desire to fill his deceased friend’s shoes.


You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie

In remembrance of his mother following her death, Sherman Alexie wrote a memoir about his impoverished childhood on a reservation. Written in poems, essays, and photographs, this book takes on the complicated relationship he had with his alcoholic mother.

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National Members Kick off the Centennial Weekend at the NRGM 10th Anniversary Panel http://wnba-nyc.org/national-members-kick-off-centennial-weekend-nrgm-10th-anniversary-panel/ Mon, 20 Nov 2017 15:00:10 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9196 The NRGM - Great Group Reads 10th Anniversary kick off to the Centennial came with a bonus: the chance for national members to share their NRGM experiences.

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On Friday, October 29th, representatives from WNBA chapters across the country gathered in New York for libations and literary conversation at the National Reading Group Month tenth anniversary panel. In addition to the discussion, which featured debut authors from NRGM’s Great Group Reads recommendations list, WNBA members were eager to meet representatives from other chapters and to kick off the Centennial weekend.

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National members mingle
Photo Credit Katherine Akey

For Jolene Jaquays, incoming president of the Greater Lansing chapter, meeting other chapter presidents and board members was a unique opportunity to develop her own chapter, which is under a year old. “I’m looking forward to meeting some people who know what they’re doing and can help us grow our chapter,” Jaquays said.

The Greater Lansing chapter held its own NRGM panel earlier this month. Though Jaquays was unfamiliar with the NYC panelists, she looked forward to their comments on the industry and their experiences as debut authors.

At its tenth anniversary NRGM panel, the Atlanta chapter showcased accomplishments of women in publishing through the last year. Chapter President Joyce Hyndamn was proud that the panel featured representatives from several facets of the industry, including writers, editors, and publishers.

NRGM Panelists – Larson, Henderson, Davis-Huber, Franks, and Wrinkle
Photo Credit Katherine Akey

For Hyndamn, the wealth of potential panelists to choose from in Atlanta demonstrated how far women have come in the publishing industry since the WNBA was founded in 1917.

“In 1917, there was no right to vote,” she said. “Women couldn’t be head of a company, they couldn’t be an agent. And I can tell you that even 20 years ago there weren’t as many female-written books.”

For Pamela Milam, member of the New York City chapter and the Great Group Reads pre-selection committee, the NRGM event was the culmination of almost a year’s work. Beginning in February every year, Milam and other pre-selection committee members sift through between 25 to 100 newly-published books sent to them by publishers. From these titles, the committees select the annual Great Group Reads lists of recommended reading material.

NRGM Anniversary Cake
Photo Credit Katherine Akey

Milam, who has been a New York chapter member and a reader for Great Group Reads since 2013, shared that discussing the submissions every year has strengthened her connection to the organization. “That’s what got me involved [in the WNBA] – the reading and getting to know the women,” she said. “That’s what hooked me. I wouldn’t have found the WNBA without it.”

Welcoming lovers of literature and collaborative reading is the ultimate goal of NRGM and, by extension, the WNBA. According to Sheila Lewis, Recording Secretary for the New York City board, a kick off to the weekend that welcomed members from across the country to the NRGM panel – and the Centennial weekend – was the evening’s highlight.

 “This panel will give us the opportunity to celebrate the best things about the WNBA,” Lewis said. “The history, the legacy of support for women of the book industry, and the celebration of our high standards for literature.”

Great Group Reads Lists
Photo Credit Katherine Akey

 

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The Reader’s View: Angelica Baker’s Our Little Racket http://wnba-nyc.org/the-readers-view-our-little-racket/ Fri, 17 Nov 2017 15:30:57 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9190 Angelica Baker's OUR LITTLE RACKET tells the tale of five women adjacent to a powerful man as they resist impending chaos from the financial crisis.

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In Angelica Baker’s Our Little Racket, a prestigious NYC financial firm is on the brink of collapse, and its CEO, Bob D’Amico, faces professional and social disgrace. Wall Street is in chaos but, squired away in fabulously wealthy Greenwich, Connecticut, the families of Wall Street brokers are left in confused stasis.

Told from the perspectives of five women whose lives intersect with Bob D’Amico’s, Our Little Racket explores the slow, festering panic that pervades the D’Amico household – and the entire community – in the wake of the financial crisis.

Our Little RacketEach of Baker’s five narrators is deeply isolated, struggling to understand the financial crisis and to navigate their increasingly complex relationships with each other. Isabel D’Amico, Bob’s shrewd and statuesque wife, faces the crisis with cold calculation, while her friend Mina flutters about her, anxious to crack her stoic veneer. The D’Amicos’ teenage daughter, Madison, mirrors her mother’s stoicism until the need for information overwhelms her, all the while shutting out her childhood best friend, Amanda. Between these warring, elite women weaves Lilly, the D’Amicos’ nanny, who is privy to the family’s most intimate moods, and yet is fundamentally an outsider.

With Bob conspicuously absent, Baker’s narrators are marooned in Connecticut, surrounded by the lavish trappings of a life that they fear may collapse. As a result, every interaction is suffused with their efforts to secure others’ information while revealing none of their own. Baker highlights each narrator in turn, revealing her precise social calibrations to the reader. In one such moment, Madison finds herself in front of a mirror with a powerful classmate, Zoë, who has been probing her for information about her family:

“They turned together to the mirror and stood side by side, their hips touching, their lipstick the same. Madison tilted her head toward Zoë’s. Zoë might not know it, but Madison was doing her a favor. She was allowing it, all the little comments, bending her head in gracious indifference.”

Madison is in a precarious situation, aware that Zoë is evaluating her for weakness, yet knowing that she would be dangerous to offend. In response, Madison arranges herself as the perfect copy, physically mirroring Zoë down to their lipstick, identical except for the slight head tilt that indicates Madison’s deference. She projects alliance with Zoë, but she also shrewdly assess her, chronicling transgressions, aware that she has a resource that Zoë craves: information about the crisis.

In focusing on these five women’s voices, Baker reveals a world that is deeply sex-segregated, where powerful men horde knowledge and wield their presence in the domestic sphere like a weapon, disappearing and reappearing at will. Women operate in an entirely different space, both physically and socially, presenting each other with precisely calibrated exteriors while, internally, they each struggle with crippling anxiety. When the structure of this affluent world breaks down, each of Baker’s five narrators asserts her own voice, weaving together a narrative of female resilience in the face of overwhelming uncertainty.

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The Centennial Gala http://wnba-nyc.org/the-centennial-gala/ Wed, 15 Nov 2017 16:00:47 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9177 On Saturday, October 28, WNBA members celebrated the Centennial in style with cocktails, awards, and literary conversations!

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First; books of 1917; historical fictionOn Saturday, October 28, members of WNBA and their guests celebrated the WNBA Centennial in style! The evening began with a

National President Jane Kinney-Denning
Photo Credit Celine Keating

cocktail reception at Pen + Brush, a nonprofit gallery dedicated to promoting female artists and writers. Men and women mingled and viewed the provocative art work.

Following libations, the WNBA National President, Jane Kinney-Denning, spoke of the power our unified and diverse voices have in promoting literacy and reminded us that WNBA’s championing of literacy has been alongside women marching for other just causes including civil rights and women’s right to vote. She concluded by saying, “One cannot make too much of the importance of books.”

Centennial Birthday Cake
Photo Credit Hannah Bennett

The evening incorporated recognition of the two esteemed WNBA award winners for 2017, Carla Hayden and Louise Erdrich. Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, was lauded for making libraries vital to communities and for serving as a beacon of the transformative power books hold. Louise Erdrich, a National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist, was noted for her fifteen novels, for exploring Native American themes, and for being an independent bookseller.

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Attendees before the panel
Photo Credit Liberty Shauf

Valerie Tomaselli, WNBA Centennial Chair, took the floor to recognize the many sponsors and to thank President Hannah Bennett and members of the NYC chapter for their hard work on the event.

To launch Women in the Literary Landscape: A Centennial Publication of the Women’s National Book Association, co-editor Rosalind Reisner spoke about the extensive research

Advance Copies
Photo Credit Liberty Schauf

into the organization’s history and recited a few historical anecdotes to accompany the evening.

From C&R Press, the book’s executive publishers spoke about how their mothers, of course, were responsible for their love of reading. They were also thrilled to announce that they will publish an anthology edited by Joan Gelfand with writing from WNBA Writing Contest winners.

The WNBA Little Free Library
Photo Credit Liberty Schauf

Susan Larson presented the Second Century Prize, a grant to a nonprofit that promotes reading and love of literacy, to Little Free Library. Everyone was impressed with Founder and Executive Director Tod H. Bol’s enthusiasm and his feat of having established 60,000 little libraries worldwide.

To conclude the event, Dierdre Bair, noted biographer, moderated a lively discussion entitled “The Transformative Role of Literature in Our Society.”

Straub, Jefferson, Robinson, and Bair discuss the literary world
Photo Credit Hannah Bennett

Margo Jefferson, social and cultural critic and author of Negroland, noted that although it is hard to make a living from just being a writer, she is thrilled with the range of available avenues for writing available today.  Roxana Robinson discussed her experience as past president of the Authors Guild and about writers’ struggles to be justly paid. She also shared the experience of researching the life of United States Marines in Iraq for her novel Sparta. Emma Straub spoke about juggling several jobs—writer, mother, and bookstore owner—and attributed the success of her new bookstore in Cobble Hill, Books are Magic, to the right location.

Participants left feeling the spirit of the celebration and with the hope that WNBA will continue to inspire love of literature for many years to come.


By Harriet Shenkman

The post The Centennial Gala appeared first on Women's National Book Association | NYC Chapter.

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One Hundred Years! http://wnba-nyc.org/one-hundred-years/ Mon, 13 Nov 2017 16:00:40 +0000 http://wnba-nyc.org/?p=9133 Happy birthday to the WNBA, which began 100 years ago today!

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