well read - New York Book Festival
Written by Karen Martin
As Qatar Airways celebrates its third anniversary of flights to New York this month, the New York Book Festival celebrates books worthy of greater attention in the world’s publishing capital with an annual competition and festival.
This year’s edition of the New York Book Festival, held on June 12, heads to New York’s famed Lower East Side, the stomping grounds for some of culture’s most vital artists, writers, and musicians, for a day festival in the lush setting of Tompkins Square Park.
With the intention of heralding books that deserve wider circulation and recognition, the event features author readings, live music, children’s entertainment, food, and retailers, and an awards ceremony that will be held at the Algonquin Hotel, one of literature’s great landmarks in the city. The festival was spawned from a conference called the DIY Convention: Do It Yourself in Film, Music & Books, founded when the organisers JM Northern Media observed that technology was making it easier and easier for people to create their own film, music, and books.
“At the same time, we realised that what creative people like to do after they’ve created is perform,” said event producer Bruce Haring. “So we began instituting a slate of festivals for the film, music, and book people. Thus in 2006 was born the New York Book Festival, which allows authors and publishers to showcase their work in a park setting in the greatest publishing city in the world, drawing further recognition and attention while giving them a chance to reach the public and sell some books.
“We now stage festivals in London, Paris, and many other locations throughout the year, as well as two genre-based festivals: the Green Book Festival, honouring books that contribute to environmental understanding; and the Beach Book Festival, which spotlights great summer reads.”
Summing up the spirit of the festival, Bruce said: “The awards are always a personal favourite. Hearing the inspirational tales of the people who win and how they managed to get a book out on the market is always moving, no matter if it’s the smallest self-publisher or mainstream large market author. It’s still the struggle to fill a blank space with words and translate the human experience.”
New York, USA
Last year’s New York Book Festival selected Eric Greitens’ Strength and Compassion: Photographs and Essays as the grand prize winner of its annual competition.
Greitens’ book of award-winning photographs and essays offers commentary on the human side of suffering in Rwanda, Cambodia, Albania, Mexico, and other areas. Though the photographs were taken in different countries amid different struggles, a common theme emerges: even in times of great hardship and in the face of great evil, people with strength and compassion can live with courage. The book’s message of hope in a troubled world won unanimous praise from the judges and was awarded the competition’s top prize.
Eric Greitens studied ethics, philosophy, and public policy. Selected as a Rhodes and Truman Scholar, he attended the University of Oxford where he earned a master’s degree in development studies and a Ph.D. in politics.
He has worked as a humanitarian volunteer, documentary photographer, and researcher in Rwanda, Cambodia, Albania, Mexico, India, the Gaza Strip, Croatia, and Bolivia.
WORK THE SYSTEM: THE SIMPLE MECHANICS OF MAKING MORE AND WORKING LESS
Focusing on the workplace but applicable to all aspects of life, this hands-on guide will help readers to maximise profits, create client loyalty, and develop autonomous employees. The strategies will also help individuals improve their performance and decrease the stress of being overtaxed or disorganised, maximise productivity, and avoid the time-wasting imperfection of perfection.
WHAT IS HERS
When Katherine Kent and her adult daughter Anita fall ill at their seaside home, Hunter’s Point, retired detective Dan Davies suspects attempted murder. Katherine’s nephew’s wife Susan is arrested for the crime, but for Dan the pieces of the puzzle just don’t seem to fit. When Susan’s husband, Jerry, is accused of violently assaulting his cousin, Dan begins to suspect that other family members may have a motive.
STRENGTH & COMPASSION
Photographs and essays take the reader on a journey spanning eight countries, including Rwanda, Bolivia, and Mexico. Along the way we meet refugees of genocide, survivors of landmines, street children, and orphans of war. Not just a story of struggles against poverty and war, but of the extraordinary strength and compassion that individual men, women, and children possess to create lives of dignity, courage, and hope.
POETIC VOICES WITHOUT BORDERS 2
This international anthology of over 150 poets who write in English, French, and Spanish includes work by Grace Cavalieri, Rita Dove, Dana Gioia, Joy Harjo, Peter Klappert, Philip Levine, Naomi Shihab Nye, Gloria Vando, among many more. The voices are passionate and enlightening while echoing a desire to transform, to change, to transcend borders, be they personal, cultural, or national, in a poetic manner.
FROM WHERE THE RIVERS COME
Set in Benares, India, with the Ganges River its main artery and the people its lifeblood. Meetha Sharma, a ‘modern’ Indian woman who attracts the affections and attention of more than one young single American student in Benares, desires to be like her American friends. But her desire has consequences, including for the traditional Hindu musician to whom she was promised when she was 13.
Emma Donovan returns to her home town of Dundarragh to oversee renovations on the house she has inherited from her mother. Returning opens old sores and sends Emma on a voyage of discovery about her own past and that of her mother. Was the house about to give up all of its secrets and, if so, what would the impact be on Emma and her present life?
DUSTY WATERS: A GHOST STORY
Dusty Waters is a ghost story, a family saga, and a biography of a folksinger. Dusty’s friend, Katharine, has volunteered to help her write the official biography, but there is one thing she won’t reveal; she can see ghosts. Dusty’s ancestral home Tanglewood is filled with them. This inherited sight adds a vexing dimension to her psyche that becomes an uneasy burden.
THE SIDE-YARD SUPERHERO
Bernie’s physical world was confined to a wheelchair, but that didn’t stop him from being an intrepid daydreamer, adventurer, and hero to Rickie. The unique friendship the boys forged defined an era in both their lives. When he left for college, Rickie promised Bernie they would meet again. Now, decades later, he is making the pilgrimage back to Ohio to fulfill that promise.
COFFEE TABLE BOOK
THE LEWIS & CLARK TRAIL: AMERICAN LANDSCAPES
Photographer Richard Mack brings the vistas and majesty of the Lewis & Clark Trail to life in a set of 248 beautiful colour photographs. Richard spent two years visiting key locations along the Lewis & Clark Trail – by ’plane, car, and on foot – shooting specific locations at the same time of year as was originally experienced. The result is an extraordinary set of images capturing the incredible diversity of the American landscape in different seasons. This once-in-a-lifetime collection of images will be a treasured addition to any coffee table.
Tompkins Square Park (pictured above) in the middle of the East Village is a perfect centrepiece for its eclectic neighbourhood, which houses artists, radicals, fashion-lovers, and those who have lived in the precinct for decades and witnessed its many changes. The performances hosted by the park today are as unique as its visitors.
As an extension of the hotel’s first-of-its-kind e-reader programme, each month, Harper Perennial makes several digital eBook downloads available to The Algonquin’s guests. The hotel offers guests a choice of electronic readers for use during their stay, preloaded with a wealth of new and classic works from the Harper Perennial imprint.
To round out this partnership, the hotel introduced The Algonquin Book Club, a series of events hosted in The Algonquin’s famous lobby. These gatherings feature notable authors, panel discussions, and book signings.