A year after NK Jemisin became the first black person to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the African American author has landed the prestigious science fiction prize for the second year running.
Jemisin was announced as the winner of the best novel Hugo at Worldcon in Helsinki, Finland on Friday. She took the prize, which is voted for by fans, for The Obelisk Gate, the follow-up to her Hugo award-winning novel The Fifth Season. The series is set in a world that is constantly threatened by seismic activity, and where the mutants who can control the environment are oppressed by humans.
The New York Times called Jemisin’s writing in the series “intricate and extraordinary”. Hugos administrator Nicholas Whyte said that 3,319 people voted in this year’s award, the third-highest vote total ever and the highest participation in the Hugos for a Worldcon outside the US or UK. “There’s been a very high level of genuine engagement and thoughtful participation,” said Whyte. “People can read into that what they like.”
Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child is a searing tale about the way childhood trauma shapes and misshapes the life of the adult. At the center: a woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life; but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love until she told a lie that ruined the life of an innocent woman, a lie whose reverberations refuse to diminish…Booker, the man Bride loves and loses, whose core of anger was born in the wake of the childhood murder of his beloved brother…Rain, the mysterious white child, who finds in Bride the only person she can talk to about the abuse she’s suffered at the hands of her prostitute mother… and Sweetness, Bride’s mother, who takes a lifetime to understand that “what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.”
PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) — The papers of Nobel laureate Toni Morrison are now part of the permanent library collection of Princeton University. Princeton made the announcement Friday, shortly before the 83-year-old Morrison took part in a forum at the school where she served on the faculty for 17 years.
The renowned author’s papers contain about 180 linear feet of research materials documenting her life, work and writing methods. They include manuscripts, drafts and proofs of many of Morrison’s novels. Materials for her children’s literature, lyrics, lectures, correspondence and more are also part of the collection.
Additional manuscripts and papers will be added over time, beginning with the manuscript of Morrison’s next novel, which is expected to be published in the spring.
Morrison, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel “Beloved” in 1988, came to Princeton in 1989 and was a member of the university’s creative writing program until she retired in 2006. In 1994, she founded the Princeton Atelier, bringing together undergraduate students in interdisciplinary collaborations with acclaimed artists and performers.
“Toni Morrison’s place among the giants of American literature is firmly entrenched, and I am overjoyed that we are adding her papers to the Princeton University Library’s collections,” Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber said. “We at Princeton are fortunate that (Morrison) brought her brilliant talents as a writer and teacher to our campus 25 years ago, and we are deeply honored to house her papers and to help preserve her inspiring legacy.”
Morrison received an honorary doctorate during the school’s 2013 commencement.
J. California Cooper, an award-winning writer whose black female characters confront a world of indifference and betrayal, but find kinship there in unexpected places, died on September 20th in Seattle. She was 82. A spokesman for Random House, her publisher, confirmed her death. She had had several heart attacks in recent years.
Ms. Cooper won an American Book Award in 1989 for the second of her six story collections, “Homemade Love.” Her short story “Funny Valentines,” about a woman in a troubled marriage who repairs an old rift with a cousin when she moves back home, was turned into a 1999 television movie starring Alfre Woodard and Loretta Devine.
Writing in a vernacular first-person style, Ms. Cooper set her stories in an indeterminate rural past permeated with violence and the ghost of slavery. The African-American women she depicts endure abandonment, betrayal, rape and social invisibility, but they survive.
“Some Soul to Keep” (1987), her third collection, includes over-the-back-fence tales. One story tells of two women who become close friends after one woman’s husband dies and the other’s leaves. They learn that long-lived rumors of their dislike for each other had been fabricated by their husbands. Another story is about a blind girl who is raped by her minister, gives birth to his son and raises him alone because, she explains, he makes her forget she is blind.
Ms. Cooper’s 1991 novel, “Family,” one of five she wrote, is narrated by the ghost of a slave woman who committed suicide before the Civil War and who follows the lives of her descendants as they mingle and procreate in a new interracial world, marveling at how “from one woman all these different colors and nationalities could come into being.”
Ms. Cooper was clear about the religious values that informed her stories. “I’m a Christian,” she told The Washington Post in 2000. “That’s all I am. If it came down to Christianity and writing, I’d let the writing go. God is bigger than a book.”
In an interview on NPR in 2006, she said, “What I’m basically trying to do is help somebody make some right choices.”