Are award winners and losers out of fashion?

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Vogue editor Edward Enninful (right) awarded the 2019 Turner Prize to the four nominees

“It’s a crazy contest between an orange and a spaceship and a potted plant and a spoon – which one do you like better?”

That’s how singer Anohni, formerly of Antony of the Johnsons, summed up awards in 2005.

She had just won the Mercury Music Prize, but was suggesting it was faintly ridiculous to pit very different artistic works against one another for the sake of a trophy.

The 2019 Turner Prize was a crazy contest between human effigies and a futuristic feminist city and a film about Northern Ireland and a sound installation about Syria.

So, before Tuesday’s prize-giving ceremony, the nominees got together and decided they didn’t want an individual winner to be chosen, instead asking the judges to let them share the coveted art award.

That wasn’t just because it was so hard to compare their works, but because they wanted to make a show of unity in divisive times, and didn’t want one nominee’s political message to be judged as more worthy than the rest.

There had never been a tie for the Turner Prize before. But the prize has changed since the headline-making days of the mid-1990s. Out have gone the indulgent, attention-grabbing sensations by Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, and in have come the socially conscious, message-driven works of recent years.

The gesture and the reasons behind it have been warmly received. But now this precedent has been set, will next year’s nominees feel they need to do the same thing?

And after the Booker Prize judges failed to choose one winner this year, is the notion of competition in the arts going out of fashion?

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo shared the Booker Prize

“Everyone agrees that competition is the enemy of art,” wrote Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian after the Booker in October. “And yet, on the whole, there is also an agreement to conspire in the notion that it isn’t.”

After all, a competition brings a certain amount of excitement and attention that wouldn’t have been there otherwise – if, for example, the Turner Prize was just another group exhibition.

BBC arts editor Will Gompertz said: “Maybe annual awards like the Turner Prize and the Booker Prize, which also didn’t have a single winner this year, are reaching their sell-by date: an anachronism from a bygone binary age of winners and losers.”

But Turner Prize head judge Alex Farquharson, who runs Tate Britain, told BBC News that Tuesday’s result was “very specific to this year”, and that the award had always evolved in order to stay relevant.

Here are four more recent examples of when artists or judges have decided to share the love – and one where they withheld their love altogether.

Turner Prize 2016

Image copyright PA
Image caption Helen Marten said the art world should show “an egalitarian platform of democracy”

Until this year, the closest the Turner Prize had come to a split award was when the 2016 winner, sculptor Helen Marten, decided to share her prize money (if not the prize itself) with her fellow nominees.

“Promoting a hierarchy is never the most useful thing for anyone involved, or the public,” she told BBC News at the time.

Her Turner win came just three weeks after she did the same thing with the £30,000 prize money from her win at the inaugural Hepworth Prize, after which she said art was “deeply subjective”.

“To a certain extent I believe in light of the world’s ever lengthening political shadow that the art world has a responsibility, if not to suggest a provisional means forward, then at least show an egalitarian platform of democracy,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.

Marten was following the example of the winner of the 2015 Artes Mundi prize, the Chicago artist Theaster Gates, who announced he was sharing his £40,000 prize with the nine other shortlisted artists.

James Tait Black Prize for Fiction 2019

Billed as Britain’s longest running literary awards, the James Tait Black Prizes recognise the best fiction and biography books of the year. Olivia Laing won the fiction award in August for her debut novel Crudo, and said she would share the £10,000 prize with her fellow nominees.

“I said in Crudo that competition has no place in art and I meant it,” Laing told the awards ceremony, according to the Guardian.

“Crudo was written against a kind of selfishness that’s everywhere in the world right now, against an era of walls and borders, winners and losers. Art doesn’t thrive like that and I don’t think people do either.

“We thrive on community, solidarity and mutual support and as such, and assuming this is agreeable to my fellow authors, I’d like the prize money to be split between us, to nourish as much new work as possible.”

Booker Prize 2019

It was the judges rather than the nominees who decided to split this year’s Booker Prize between Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo.

The Booker rules say the prize must not be divided, but the judges insisted they “couldn’t separate” the two works. Peter Florence, the chair, said: “It was our decision to flout the rules.”

He twice told organisers the judges wanted to declare a tie, and twice the organisers said no. The third time, the organisers relented. “We tried voting, it didn’t work,” Florence said. “There’s a metaphor for our times.”

But the decision was criticised by many, with some suggesting Evaristo would have benefited from having the spotlight to herself, whereas Atwood didn’t need it.

One of the judges was writer Afua Hirsch, who said the panel struggled to judge “the titanic career” of Atwood against “the quality and consistency” of Evaristo. That also raised hackles, because they were supposed to be judging individual novels, rather than careers.

“The outcome would always be imperfect, because it was an impossible task,” Hirsch wrote in the Guardian.

Bad Sex in Fiction Award 2019

The Literary Review’s tongue-in-cheek award for the most toe-curling descriptions of sex spoofed the Booker this year by also declaring a tie. Didier Decoin and John Harvey shared the dubious honour.

“We tried voting, but it didn’t work,” the judges said. “We tried again. Ultimately there was no separating the winners.

“Faced with two unpalatable contenders, we found ourselves unable to choose between them. We believe the British public will recognise our plight.”

Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize 2018

The judges of the Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction had a different problem in 2018 – they decided none of the nominees were good enough to win. So the award was withheld.

“We did not feel than any of the books we read this year incited the level of unanimous laughter we have come to expect,” judge David Campbell said.

A statement said there were “many amusing and well-written books”, but “none fulfilled the criteria of making all of the judges laugh out loud”.

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Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-50651827

Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall

Gift Guide Book Suggestion #6

Got someone who loves fantasy and adventure in their life?

Book Summary:

Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a pegasus, a griffin, a ravenous hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.

So when Volke stumbles across a knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the knightmare knows a terrible secret: Ruma is a murderer out to spread corrupted magic throughout their island nation. He’s already killed a population of phoenixes and he intends to kill even more.

In order to protect his home, his adopted sister, and the girl he admires from afar, Volke will need to confront his hero, the Master Arcanist Gregory Ruma.

A fast-paced flintlock fantasy for those who enjoy How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, Unsouled (Cradle Series) by Will Wight, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan.

Amazon Link – https://amzn.to/2svFjnu

Reviews:

WINNER of the B.R.A.G. Medallion for Fantasy

“Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall was rollicking good fun! Perfect for those who enjoy the Codex Alera series, the /Homas Wildus series and the Harry Potter series. Stovall is quickly becoming a name I look for.” – Seattle Book Review

“Volke carries readers into a darkly engrossing world with a passion that makes Knightmare Arcanist satisfyingly unique and hard to put down. Readers looking for a magic-based quest fantasy will find this story compelling and nicely written, with strong characters propelling action which is often unexpected and revealing.” – Midwest Book Review

“A spellbinding first installment of what promises to be an addictive series, Shami Stovall has produced a mesmerizing story of magic, intrigue, and true adventure.” – ManyBooks

“Richly crafted and laced with wry humor and intriguing magic, Knightmare Arcanist is a page-turner.” – The Prairies Book Review

Author Bio

Shami Stovall relies on her BA in History and Juris Doctorate to make her living as an author and history professor in the central valley of California. She writes in a wide range of fiction, from crime thrillers to fantasy to science-fiction. Stovall loves reading, playing video games, entertaining others with stories, and writing about herself in the third person.

When We Were Brave by Karla M Jay

Book Summary:

In WHEN WE WERE BRAVE, we find a conflicted SS officer, Wilhelm Falk, who risks everything to escape the Wehrmacht and get out the message about the death camps. Izaak is a young Jewish boy whose positive outlook is challenged daily as each new perilous situation comes along. American citizens, Herbert Müller and his family, are sent back to the hellish landscape of Germany because of the DNA coursing through their veins. In the panorama of World War II, these are the high-stakes plots and endearing characters whose braided fates we pray will work out in the end.

Amazon Link – https://amzn.to/2RaclUH

Reviews:

“When We Were Brave is not a novel about suffering, although suffering certainly makes up much of it. Rather, it is a novel about perseverance, the will to survive and push back against cruelty and death… It is what makes the novel exceptional and compelling.” -Daniel Casey, San Francisco Book Review

2019 Distinguished Favorites for New York City Big Book Award.
Jay’s (Speaking in Tungs, 2018, etc.) account is impressively ambitious, offering a sprawling view of the wages of war from three distinct perspectives. She ingeniously braids them into a coherent narrative tapestry, and along the way, she realistically describes the human degradation experienced by prisoners in the Nazi camps… – Kirkus Reviews 2019

Karla M. Jay’s novel When We Were Brave employs a dramatic triangle to create a highly-emotional, epic story of World War II, one that is as vivid as it is highly personal. Here is a moving, riveting tale that shows you how things once were–and how similar those times can feel to our own. Scott Lasser – Author of Say Nice Things About Detroit, Screenwriter for HBO’s True Detective Series

Great historical fiction teaches and entertains. When We Were Brave finds three little-remembered stories that beg to be heard. Told with vivid detail and meticulous research, these stories involve complex characters who demonstrate the resilience of the human spirit set against a backdrop of evil and tragedy. – Firoozeh Dumas, New York Times Bestselling author of Funny in Farsi, and Laughing Without an Accent

When We Were Brave is a vivid, heart-wrenching portrayal of holocaust years, as innocent victims grapple with loss, loneliness, and longing while the English and American forces fight against the Nazi army…The story is told from the perspective of three protagonists whose lives become entwined. The narrative is gripping and skillfully paced, and Jay’s depiction of her characters’ inner turmoil, hopes, fears, and mental anguish stir the reader’s heart. With complex characters and intricate plotting, Jay delivers a heart-wrenching, engrossing historical read. -The Prairies Book Review

2019 Silver Medal Winner, Readers Favorite Contest. Combining excellent historical research with a compelling storyline, the hard work of author Karla M. Jay really pays off the more deeply involved you become with the characters in her plot…As the plot threads and connections slowly come together, the conclusion marks the realities of war and sticks in your mind for a long time after. When We Were Brave is a highly recommended historical read.

“Jay demonstrates a mastery of emotion and landscape. The scenes are visceral, the dialogue is sharp and believable, and the narrators are immediately engrossing. For history enthusiasts, the level of detail, cultural accuracy, and research feels immersive. The world of the past spills out naturally, drawing readers into the relationships between these characters. When We Were Brave is a vivid portrait of a time and place with characters who are immediately recognizable.” Self-Publishing Review, ★★★★

Combining excellent historical research with a compelling storyline, the hard work of author Karla M. Jay really pays off the more deeply involved you become with the characters in her plot. I found Wilhelm’s story to be the most compelling … as a disillusioned SS officer trying to make things right for himself, and for the world. Jay really pays attention to the emotive aspect and motivations of all her characters, making them leap off the page with reality and endearing them to readers, which is what makes their hardship all the more harrowing to read about. As the plot threads and connections slowly come together, the conclusion marks the realities of war and sticks in your mind for a long time after. When We Were Brave is a highly recommended historical read.– Readers Favorite

Author Bio:

Raised in Western New York and Northern Pennsylvania, Karla M. Jay has worked as a speech pathologist since 1982. When she is not home in Utah gardening or writing, she is traveling, trying to see as many countries as possible–in particular, those with good coffee, ancient history, and great beaches.

Karen Wasylowski Questions for Cordelia Lee

1. Which books/authors inspired your work?

Over the years since I was a teenager, I have been reading real life people’s stories, whether in books or Readers’ Digest. It was with a motivation to inspire myself, and motivate me to overcome my challenges. Off-hand, I could not remember their titles. However, I always remember their impact on me until today – to be resilient, to be patient, to believe all will eventually end up well despite the many obstacles of life. I am grateful for these human stories who shaped me to be who I am today.

2. What’s one (3, 5) thing(s) that you learned while writing your book?

Rewriting, rewriting and rewriting! No matter how many drafts I have written, I will find there are always ways to improvement after constant rewriting. Especially to be patient in reflecting what I am trying to say in my writing to others. We cannot be writing for ourselves. The book is meant for readers, which I realize not all may be agreeable to the style. To be accepting of criticism with the aim of self-improvement.

3. After this book, are you writing anything new? Where are you in the process?

I am preoccupied taking care of my young toddler son. When I have free time, I am involved in activities that brings comfort, love and companionship. I am not writing any book now. It is more of song lyrics, blogging and poetry.

4. Describe your writing routine. Do you outline? Edit as you go?

Write as I go. Feel as I go. Edit as I go.

5. What do you do when you’re not writing?

Take of my young toddler son. I write poetry, I sing, I make dolls for others (for sickly children in the hospital, fundraising events and more), I meditate, I practice Qigong. I pray. Spend quality time with my family.

6. How do you combat/cure writer’s block?

Take a step back, do other activities. Before I know it, I am more relaxed enough to return to writing once more. Meditation is a good way to get myself unstuck. In fact, it has liberated my creativity to greater bounds and leaps. I have become more creative in different styles of writing and expression.

7. What advice would you give an aspiring writer who doesn’t know where to start?

Join writing workshops. Meet other writing peers. Join writing support group.

8. What was the most challenging thing about writing your book?

Myself. When I have self doubts in my writing. When I fear judgment from others based upon my life experiences. Eventually I come to an acceptance that not everyone would like my expression. Not everyone would accept my life experiences. Not everyone would like me. That freed me to write further.

9. Are you part of any writer’s groups or guilds? Which one(s)?

Yes, I am a part of a few writers’ groups. They are Malaysian Writers Society, Writers helping writers and Memoir writing group. These are in Facebook.

10. Do you have a social media presence? Where can people find you online?

a) Facebook under Cordelia Lee.
b) Instagram under cordy.lee
c) A blog attached to homemaker.net ( a platform for women empowerment)

UNEXPECTED LIVING


d) Youtube channel by Cordelia & Ket (cordyket)

11. Talk about your main character. What are they like and what inspired their personality?

My book is a memoir. I am the protagonist.

12. How does your main character change throughout the story?

It is an awakening of self throughout the journey of exploration in mind, heart, body, spirit and soul.

13. If you weren’t an author, where do you think you’d be? What would you be doing?

To be an author is a childhood dream of mine. It will happen eventually. I did not expect my first book would be a memoir.

If events did not happen as they did, which I revealed in the book, I’d probably be a writer of a different genre. Perhaps in the movie industry and still very much into poetry. As it is, I’m a meditation teacher and energy healer, who managed to take time out to author my memoir.

14. What is the most satisfying thing about being an author?

When I receive feedback that it changed their lives for the better. Inspired them to do more with their lives.

15. How do you think your book (F)/story (NF) can help people? What do you hope people will take away/learn from your book?

I hope by my book people shall know there will always be second chances in life especially so long they do not quit on themselves.

16. What made you choose the time/place in which your book was set?

I base upon my life events and moments which I wish to capture in my book.

17. What is/are reviewers/family/friends/other authors saying about your book?

Most of them like my book. There are those who told me they find my book inspiring and motivational. Some told me they could relate with my life experiences. Some felt I have given them hope, faith and more. There are a few who expressed dislike to my writing style. There are those who find my story too incredible to believe yet they try to be open-minded with my book.

18. What type of person do you think would most enjoy your book?

A reader into supernatural, onto a spiritual journey, who seeks inspiration and motivation to change their lives. A person who is seeking for hope in their lives.

19. How do you organize your book collection, if at all?

Organise by theme and topic.

20. If you could invite your favorite fictional hero/heroine over to your house for dinner, who would it be and what would you talk about?

It would be Indiana Jones. I would ask about his next archaeological adventure and whether I can one day join him.

21. What’s the best book, other than yours, that no one has ever heard of?

I remember there was a book titled Honey. I could not remember the author’s name. It is about a teenage girl named Honey. She had an alcoholic mother and her dad left the family when Honey was a young child. As a result, she had to take care of her mother who is stuck in her own past and unhappiness. Honey made friends who gave her the love which she could not get from her family. She was seeking love from various sources. However, Honey always have this guilt of wanting to stay away from her mother and seek motherly love elsewhere. Eventually a university student who worked as a maid with a wealthy family made Honey feel less guilty in seeking other love besides from her own mother. That the accumulated love and care she received from each individual including from the maid made up one good pie of Love.

22. What’s a book you own that people would be most surprised to see on your shelf?

My first books by Enid Blyton. The enchanted forest. The wishing chair. They are over 30 years old. These are the books which inspired me to be an author.

23. Which author, living or dead, would you most like to meet? What would you hope to learn from them?

Enid Blyton would be one author I would like to meet. To find out how she gets his inspiration and ideas of her stories.

Aye-Aye Gets Lucky – Endangered & Misunderstood Book 1 by Terri Tatchell

Gift Guide Book Suggestion #5

Book Summary:

Join endangered and misunderstood AYE-AYE on his quest to win back the hearts of the people of Madagascar after his mischievous pranks get him banned from his favorite village and labelled bad luck. Luckily for AYE-AYE, he meets a new friend who shows him first-hand how unpleasant being scared can feel. Armed with a little empathy and compassion, it doesn’t take AYE-AYE long to figure out that being kind and helpful is the best way to turn his luck around forever. On the surface “Aye-Aye Gets Lucky” is about a misunderstood lemur finding a way to win the love of the villagers, but look deeper and it’s a story about empathy, self-acceptance, community and second chances.

Book Link – https://amzn.to/2Pdazzk

Video Link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEJ3k7zGerY&t=19s

Review:

Aye-Aye is a small lemur who loves to play jokes on people, but his jokes are not much fun. They are mean jokes and often really scare the people he is playing the jokes on. Aye-Aye has big yellow eyes and long, sharp, crooked fingers. He is a pretty scary looking guy for people to see. Little children might be especially afraid of him when his would sneak up and wave his creepy hands at them. Aye-Aye has an ulterior motive. When he frightens people, they often throw food at him or drop it on the ground. Aye-Aye loves to eat, so this is a perfect result for him. But his antics get to be too much for the people in the village, and they ban Aye-Aye from the village and pass a law that says he cannot come back because Aye-Ayes are bad luck. It is not much fun for Aye-Aye to be all alone outside the village with no one to play pranks on and with no good food. He tries to think of ways he can get the village to welcome him back, but all he can think of are pranks and more pranks. Then a flying fox comes on the scene and teaches Aye-Aye a lesson about how it feels to be truly scared. Aye-Aye vows to change his ways and to find a way to get the village to accept him back. But is it too late? Can he ever gain their trust?

Author Terri Tatchell has written a truly engaging story that will keep youngsters entertained while teaching them an important lesson, but that lesson is well-hidden in a beautifully-written, rhyming text with perfect meter that will roll off the tongues of the adults reading the book aloud. There are a lot of funny touches that will have little ones giggling and keep them engaged. Aye-Aye is a fun character that kids will like and will root for as the story is read. The bright illustrations by Ivan Sulima are chock-full of delightful details that will keep youngster’s eyes on the pages searching for all the fun they can find. The charming illustrations really complete this story wonderfully. In addition, there are a couple of pages of back-matter that convey many interesting and important facts about Aye-Ayes and about Flying Foxes, which are endangered species. In addition to the facts, there are drawing lessons to allow youngsters to try their hands at drawing these two animals, and five ways to help the Aye-Aye to survive. This book is a terrific addition to any library, personal or public, and will become a favorite in a hurry.

San Francisco Book Review

Reviewed By: Rosi Hollinbeck

Author Bio:

Terri Tatchell is a Canadian writer known for her Oscar and BAFTA nominated work on ‘District 9’. Her love for animals and allegory have united in the creation of the ‘Endangered and Misunderstood’ series, giving the underdogs of endangered animals a lyrical voice filled with laughter, adventure and relatable themes.

Inspiring love and conservation for the endangered animals you’ve never heard of.

Endangered & Misunderstood is an ongoing series of picture books that takes a different approach to the serious subject of lesser known endangered animals, with an emphasis on laughter, adventure and relatable themes.

Proceeds from the sale of each book go directly to help the conservation of the featured animal.

Heart to Beat by Brian Lima MD

Gift Guide Book Suggestion #4

Book Summary:

Success is not reserved for the smartest or most talented—it’s earned by those who want it the most. Heart conquers all and the triumphant always go all in, never settling for anything less than their best effort.

As a leading heart transplant surgeon, Dr. Brian Lima’s life story is a testament to that mantra. He’s living proof that slow and steady still wins the race, and that the American Dream is alive and well. He persevered through countless challenges growing up in a Cuban immigrant family and defied the odds every step of the way. To fulfill his impossible dream, Dr. Lima opted for the road less traveled, enduring nearly twenty years of rigorous education and surgical training at some of the most prestigious institutions in the world.
In Heart to Beat, Dr. Lima shares the lessons learned throughout his improbable rise to the pinnacle of success in the medical field. He breaks down the keys to advancing well beyond your comfort zone and perceived limitations, regardless of your field of interest. No dream is too far-fetched and his Heart Way approach to life will help unleash your full potential and surpass your wildest expectations!

Link – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heart-to-beat-brian-lima/1134214090?ean=9781950892358

Review:

KIRKUS REVIEW

In this debut book, a cardiac surgeon recounts his successful medical career and offers a guide for readers wishing to achieve triumphs in their lives as well.

From the beginning, Lima proclaims his hope to inspire people from “all walks of life,” not simply aspiring doctors. Throughout the book, he details his personal history to reveal how he overcame obstacles. After his parents and siblings fled Cuba in the late 1960s, the author was born in Kearny, New Jersey, in 1976. At an early age, he was motivated to work harder in school after he watched a friend, also from a family of immigrants, win multiple awards at their eighth grade graduation. By high school, Lima focused on academics as well as athleticism, excelling in football. His devotion to the former was how he gained acceptance to Cornell University. He recalls that he accomplished this feat with a strong work ethic. He then stresses the importance of continuing to work hard even after finding success, citing “constant motion, growth, and development” as essentials. Another key element is gravitas, which in this book essentially means being consistently levelheaded under scrutiny or pressure. This links with later points, such as remaining ambitious in the face of self-doubts and conquering fears of failure. While much of the volume involves the figurative heart, Lima allots the final pages to the literal one, discussing the “rapidly evolving field of advanced heart failure” and providing tips on promoting a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Lima deftly blends a useful guide with an absorbing autobiography; he doesn’t concentrate excessively on either one. The hardships he faced in his own life will likely elicit readers’ sympathies, including losing both parents and his family’s initially seeing his older brother’s schizophrenia as satanic possession. Although clichés at first saturate the book (“in it to win it”; “eyes on the prize”), they gradually subside as the account progresses. The author writes in an easygoing language that doesn’t condescend to readers. He’s instead humble (asserting that his above-average intelligence is not innate but the result of persistent studying) and occasionally self-deprecating (wryly mentioning his “critically acclaimed writing”). As a result, his criticisms of social media and the current culture of “safetyism” don’t come across as contemptuous. For example, he notes that the latter may adversely affect readers’ ambitions if they are too wary of taking risks. Lima playfully incorporates the volume’s main theme of putting your heart into what you do. Chapter titles, for example, typically consist of wordplay (“For the Most Heart, Gravitas is Essential”). He even includes a “handy mnemonic” for recalling the specific points of the subtitle’s “HEART Way” (Hard work; Eager or Entrepreneurial; Aligned; Resolute; Thoughtfulness). There are instances of repetition; despite a chapter on avoiding complacency, Lima repeatedly returns to this notion throughout the book (for example, doing the “bare minimum” or “just enough”). Nevertheless, the work’s short length prevents the reiterations from becoming too conspicuous.

Helpful advice from a keen, assertive, and relatable physician.

Author Bio:

Dr. Brian Lima is a cardiac surgeon, associate professor of surgery, and recognized authority in advanced heart failure. He has published nearly 80 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and presented at numerous national and international medical conferences. As the surgical director of heart transplantation at North Shore University Hospital, Dr. Lima helped launch the first and only heart transplant program on Long Island. Dr. Lima completed his undergraduate studies at Cornell University and was awarded a Dean’s Full Tuition scholarship to attend Duke University School of Medicine. During medical school, Dr. Lima spent a year at Harvard Medical School’s Transplantation Biology Research Center as a Stanley Sarnoff cardiovascular research fellow. He then completed his general surgery residency training at Duke University Medical Center, and subsequent heart surgery training at The Cleveland Clinic, where he was awarded the prestigious Dr. Charles H. Bryan Annual Clinical Excellence Award in Cardiovascular Surgery

Rosa by Barbara de la Cuesta

Gift Guide Book Suggestion #3

Book Summary

“There were little sins and big sins, and if you committed too many little sins you were more likely to go on to the big ones. Some sins you did in your mind and then, sometimes, you went on to let yourself fall into them.” Darkly witty and compulsively readable, Barbara de la Cuesta’s novella lets us into the private life and secret thoughts of Rosa, an undocumented home health aide grappling with menopause and her unruly body, unexpected romance, grown children who alternately worry her and fill her with pride, and how life is confronting her with everything she has ever denied herself or hidden away from. Rosa is a natural storyteller, insightful in hindsight about her own motivations and unflinching in her willingness to look at the girl she was and the woman she has become. Rosa is a daring, funny, and emotional story about a woman moving her life out of the margins and into the sun with the power of confession.

Amazon Link – https://amzn.to/37Yjayi

Reviews:

Rosa is a magnificent display of empathy, a chance to see through the eyes of those who are all too often dismissed with either disdain or pity. Rosa – the woman and the novella – does not ask for any of our pity. She does not ask for understanding. She only presents herself and her story, and what we make of it is up to us.

—Manhattan Book Review, five-star review

Author Bio:

Barbara de la Cuesta lived a number of years in South America, and has long been a teacher of English as a Second Language and Spanish. Out of this experience came her two prize winning novels, The Spanish Teacher, winner of the Gival Press Award in 2007, and Rosa, winner of the Driftless Novella Prize from Brain Mill Press in 2017. Fellowships in fiction from the Massachusetts Artists’ Foundation, and the New Jersey Council on the Arts, as well as residencies at the Ragdale Foundation, The Virginia Center, and the Millay Colony, have allowed her to complete these novels. She has also published two collections of poetry with Finishing Line Press, and her collection of short stories,The Place Where Judas Lost his Boots, has recently won The Brighthorse Prize for short fiction.

The Baseball by James Flerlage

Gift Guide Book Suggestion #2

Know a baseball or sports fan in your life? The Baseball by James Flerlage might be the perfect gift.

Book Summary:

Landon Myers is a retired pediatric oncologist who spends his days diagnosing the ills of his young grandchildren’s stuffed animals while scheming up new ways to spend time with the older ones. When his thirteen-year-old granddaughter Lucy discovers an old Major League Baseball while cleaning his cellar, he faces the difficult task of exposing a family secret that has lain dormant for the past forty years.

Over a long lunch with Lucy, Landon reveals that he was previously married, divorced, and had a son, Alex. Two years after his parents’ bitter divorce, sixteen-year-old Alex receives devastating news that derails the course of his life. In a captivating story about family, relationships, and reconciliation, The Baseball begs the question, “If life gave you a second chance, would you know what to do with it?”

Amazon Link – https://amzn.to/2Rc86Yr

Reviews:

“The Baseball is written so fluently that I didn’t want it to end. This story is built around family, the good times and the bad times, the happy times and the sad times. It’s about how different people cope with pain differently and how good things can come out of things that may initially seem like the end of the world. I recommend this book for anyone who truly values family, making memories, and living life to the fullest.” – Manhattan Book Review (5-Star Review)

“An unusually affecting story. Overall, this is an earnest, unpretentious book that, despite overly deliberate grabs for the heartstrings, still manages to pluck them, all the same. A familiar tale, but one that has a melodramatic sincerity.” – Kirkus Reviews

“The Baseball is a brief novel by James Flerlage about family and the quality time we choose to spend with them. The irony of Landon’s fate—an oncologist whose son develops cancer—could have turned the story into one of bitterness and regret. Instead, it is an opportunity to revisit a time in a man’s life when he must choose his family or his work. The author delivers the heart-wrenching plot in simple and crisp prose and without judgment and gives readers the opportunity to re-examine their own priorities in life.” – San Francisco Book Review (4-Star Review)

“The plot of The Baseball is a well-developed hybrid of family and sports drama. It hits familiar plot beats and framing devices, but the work develops smoothly and evenly with quiet style. The author has a clear handle on storytelling and the unveiling of mystery; the sports focus and the manner in which it is integrated into the characters’ lives is alluring.” – The BookLife Prize

Author Bio:

James Flerlage is the author of Before Bethlehem, a critically acclaimed historical novel and “2013 Recommended Book” by Kirkus Reviews. In addition to spending time with his family, James enjoys fishing, drumming, and watching Major League Baseball; he follows the Kansas City Royals and the Cincinnati Reds. Follow the author and The Baseball on Instagram: @thebaseballbook.

Adjustments: A Novel by Will Willingham

Gift Guide Book Suggestion #1

Book Summary:

By turns thoughtful and hilarious (even, inexplicably, both at the same time), this deeply Midwestern book quietly unfolds a vision for how to navigate in a world where we can’t always resolve things.

It begins with an old man’s call to the insurance company to get a minor house repair covered. Once the adjuster shows up, a journey both tender and tough is set in motion. These men need each other in ways it will take time to discover.

To complicate matters, the adjuster also needs (and is needed by) his aged landlady Pearl Jenkins. Theirs is a friendship both fraught and kind.

When the latest “outsider” from Minneapolis shows up to this small Dakotan town, with her non-approved hybrid car parked right across from Pearl’s house, the cast of characters is almost complete.

Just add the generous appearance of colorful minor characters the adjuster works with and serves in his work (none of whom, arguably, are truly minor) and you’re holding a delightfully satisfying book that, while it has you laughing, manages to quietly delve into the ways we bring people in and shut them out—on the job, in the town, or at the threshold of our hearts.

As much as the characters have a relationship with poetry and story (and they do), it is also a profound book about naming both the things that have held us back and the things we want, to move us forward—a book about choosing life.

Book Link – https://amzn.to/2DJMP0u

Review:

In Will Willingham’s “Adjustments,” Will Phillips is an insurance adjustor, working in the plains, hills, and valleys of South Dakota. He lives in a room of what was once a mansion but is now more of a boarding house. He has a give-and-take relationship with his 70+ landlady, Pearl Jenkins, who is part friend, part mother, part judge, part advisor, and full-time matchmaker who usually cheats at cards. So far, Will has resisted the matchmaking and gone along with the card cheating.

Will’s work, like most work, involves a daily sameness. After a few years, insurance claims become similar. A fire is a fire, and Will can usually sniff out when it was accidental and when it isn’t. Same thing for a stolen truck; even doctors are known to report a truck stolen when it’s time for a replacement. Will investigates a fire claim; the house is owned by a man unmarried to the woman and her children living with him. Will knows how this will end – the house will be replaced or rebuilt, the man will get a new girlfriend, and the woman will find herself and her kids homeless.

It says something about Will that, even as he sees the sameness, it doesn’t numb him to people’s anguish and pain. It may be that Will is still dealing with his own, even as he masks it from himself. That mask begins to fall when he investigates a claim by Joe Murphy, a 73-year-old widower originally from Chicago. Joe and his wife had moved to the area when Joe retired from the fire department in Chicago; his wife had grown up in the area and wanted to go back. After her death, he stayed, and Joe senses something in Will that needs to be reached. Hoe begins to try to reach whatever it is in Will through literature and music.

It is filled with humor and poignancy, insight and emotion. The reader sees into the soul of an inherently decent man who knows he’s broken and has found a way to live with that, until he can’t.

Adjustments is more than a good novel; it is a fine novel. It is, simultaneously, moving and real and surprising and true. We see ourselves and our personal histories and, like Will Phillips, we bear scars. This is a story about what matters, and it’s told beautifully well.

Author Bio:

Will Willingham was a claim adjuster for nearly 20 years, helping people and insurance companies understand loss. Now, he trains others to do likewise. When he’s not scaling small buildings or crunching numbers with his bare hands, he occasionally reads Keats, upside down.

The wife of a Capital Gazette shooting victim finishes and publishes the book her husband started

(CNN)John McNamara was a sportswriter for the Capital Gazette when his life was cut short by a gunman who attacked the newspaper’s office in 2018.

His wife of 33 years, Andrea Chamblee, decided to keep her husband’s memory alive the best way she knew how — by finishing and publishing his book.
“I knew how hard he worked on this book, I couldn’t let it go unfinished,” she said.
    Chamblee, who said she was so impressed when she saw McNamara’s boxes of files organized by district, school and player, immediately got to work, recruiting local sportswriters to help.
    She recalled the particularly difficult feat of identifying the players in 178 photos that her late husband left behind.
    “He didn’t save the captions, so I didn’t know who they were or what game it was,” she said. “I printed them all out and carried the file around with me for about three months and found people who can identify them for me. I cross-referenced with yearbooks.”
    What resulted from Chamblee’s determination was a 300-page book recounting the century-long history of basketball in DC, with stories featuring legends such as Edwin Henderson and Dave Bing.
    “The Capital of Basketball” is now on shelves in the DC area, a year after Chamblee set off to complete her husband’s passion project.
    “It’s awfully bittersweet, I keep wanting to show it to John,” said Chamblee. “Part of me wants to keep it as our last love letter together, but on the other hand, I want people to know these stories.”

    A romance rooted in journalism and sports

    Chamblee, who, like McNamara, majored in journalism at the University of Maryland, is a sports enthusiast herself. She describes their relationship as a romance rooted in journalism and sports, adding that they met for the first time at a football game in 1981.
    Chamblee described McNamara’s enthusiasm for sports as infectious, noting that his passion came through in his three books, including “University of Maryland Football Vault.”
    She remembers McNamara as a devoted man.
    “He was devoted to writing, he was devoted to basketball and baseball, and for some crazy reason, he was devoted to me,” Chamblee told CNN. “He would get up early to scrape snow off my car, and make me coffee even though he never touched the stuff.”

    A life and career cut short

    On June 28, 2018, Jarrod Ramos stormed the Capital Gazette newspaper’s office in Annapolis, Maryland, killing five employees: McNamara, Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters.
    It was the single deadliest day for journalists in the United States since 9/11.
    Last week, a judge postponed an insanity trial for Ramos at his defense’s request, according to a spokeswoman for the Maryland Judiciary. He pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible to all 23 counts, including murder, in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, the spokeswoman said.
    The next phase of his trial will be to determine whether the shooter was mentally competent when he committed the crimes.
      Chamblee, who is now an active advocate of gun control, said “the time to have justice for John is gone, we missed it.”
      “We had the chance to protect John and his coworkers and we didn’t take it, we still haven’t taken it.”

      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/06/us/wife-finishes-book-for-capital-gazette-victim/index.html