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Jamaica Kincaid, Award-winning Author of “See Now Then,” Will Discuss her Latest Work at the South End Library Tuesday, March 31, 6:30 PM

2015 March 27
by marleen

j kincaid updatedBarring a blizzard like the “biblical” one that prevented her from coming in February (her description), Jamaica Kincaid, the celebrated Antiguan-American author of novels, essays and short stories, will be at the South End library on Tuesday, March 31, at last. Kincaid was invited to speak by novelist Sue Miller. She will talk about her  latest novel,  See Now Then, and will be introduced by poet and South End resident Henri Cole, himself an award-winning writer who read from his books of poetry at the South End library several years ago.

Now a Professor of African and African-American Studies in Residence at Harvard University, Kincaid moved from the island of St. John’s, where she was born in 1949, to New York City when she was seventeen. She worked as an au-pair and, after a three-year stint of college classes, began to write for magazines and weeklies, including The Village Voice, and The New Yorker. She became the protege of its revered and feared editor at the time, William Shawn, and married his son, Allen Shawn, a composer of classical music. The plot of See Now Then is informed by this marriage and its nasty aftermath. Until their divorce, they lived with their two young children in Bennington, VT, though not in the house of Shirley Jackson –famous author of The Lottery,– as does the narrator of See Now Then.  

Set in Bennington, the novel features Kincaid’s unique writing style of stating a thought simply, then returning to it repeatedly with supplementary details, rich and embroidered or bitingly pared to the core, expanding on the theme in leisurely sentences, much like the widening circles in a pond’s surface after the pebble is thrown in. The cumulative force of this literary form –also used in Kincaid’s Mr Potter and The Autobiography of My Mother,–  effectively describes the pleasures of a marriage before the widening circles of the tale become infused with rage over betrayal, loss and sadness after the husband takes up with one of his music students. See Now Then recently won the 2014 American Book Award, a prize created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement in America’s diverse literary community.

Kincaid has written five novels, many articles, and a number of works of non-fiction, including a courageous memoir of her brother’s struggles with AIDS, called My Brother. Her 1983 short-story collection, At the Bottom of the River, won the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She was the author of My Garden Book, one of several she wrote about the ennobling topic of gardening. She also edited My Favorite Plant: Writers and Gardeners on the Plants They Love (1998).

The event starts at 6:30 PM. The South End branch is fully handicapped accessible. Seating is limited so come early if you want to be sure to have a seat. Refreshments are served. Books will be available for sale, and for borrowing from the library.

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NEXT AUTHORS TO READ AT THE SOUTH END LIBRARY:

TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 6:30 PMBeatty

JACK BEATTY: author and erudite news analyst on WBUR and other radio shows, will talk about his latest book, The Lost History of 1914: Reconsidering the Year the Great War Began. Book reviewers at The New Yorker described it as a “counterfactual history;” David Shribman, in his review of the it in the Boston Globe, called it “found history,” in light of the details uncovered by Beatty about the vulnerability of the European continent to war in 1914. A former senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly for many years, Beatty also also helped write (or, as some have suggested, wrote) former Boston mayor Tom Menino’s 2014 memoir, Mayor for a New America. Other titles by Beatty, who won numerous awards and prestigious fellowships, are The Rascall King (a biography of former Boston mayor James Michael Curly), The World According to Peter Drucker, The Age of Betrayal: the Triumph of Money in America, and Colossus: How the Corporation Changed America. 

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TUESDAY, MAY 12, 6:30 PM

anjali mitter duvaANJALI MITTER DUVA,  an Indian-American Bostonian who grew up in France, has just published her first novel, Faint Promise of Rain. It’s a historical novel and the coming-of-age story of Adhira, a girl born into a family of temple dancers.  It draws on the author’s father’s childhood in India and her personal interest in kathak dance, according to an interview with the writers’ web site Dead Darlings. Duva grew up in France with her family roots in Calcutta, India. According to a report in the Plymouth Library newsletter, she attended MIT and started a career in urban planning before finding her calling in native storytelling. Faint Promise of Rain takes place in 1554 in the desert of Rajasthan as a new Mughal emperor expands his territory. Told from the perspective of an exquisite dancer and filled with the sounds, sights and flavors of the Indian desert, the novel is the story of a family and a girl caught between art, duty and fear in a changing world.

 

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TUESDAY, JUNE 9, 6:30 PMjohn ross

JOHN J. ROSS, a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, will read from his Shakespeare’s Tremor and Orwell’s Cough, a book about the medical lives of authors through the ages. Ross explores the likely maladies of twelve literary, but medically expired stars, ranging from Shakespeare’s syphilis, to Milton’s blindness, Swift’s vertigo, the Bronte sisters’ tuberculosis, Hawthorne’s anxiety disorder, Melville’s probable bi-polar disorder, Yeats’s Aspergers, Joyce’s gonorrhea, and Orwell’s damaged bronchial tubes. Their achievements do not surprise Ross as he believes ” literary genius is more likely to arise from disappointment and chagrin than comfort and complacency.”A Wall Street Journal reviewer called Ross “a penetrating literary critic and a perceptive and humane observer of the lives of writers and of those in their orbit.” The Washington Post‘s critic described the book as “a delicious gumbo of odd personalities, colorful literary history, and enlightened deduction.” The New York Times said the stories of the wounded storytellers “unfold smoothly on the page, as mesmerizing as any they themselves might have told, those squinting, wheezing, arthritic, infected, demented, defective yet superlative examples of the human condition.”

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TUESDAY, JUNE 23RD, 6:30 PM

rothmanADAM ROTHMAN, associate professor at Georgetown University, whose work focuses on, among other things, the history of slavery and abolition in the Atlantic world, will talk about  Beyond Freedom’s Reach: a Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery.  Rothman, who grew up in the South End on West Brookline Street, researched the true story of Rose Herera, born into slavery in rural Louisiana, who was bought and sold several times before being purchased by the De Hart family of New Orleans. After Union forces captured New Orleans in 1862 during the American Civil War, Herera’s owners fled to Havana, taking her three small children with them. Beyond Freedom’s Reach is the meticulously researched story of her battle to rescue her children from bondage. Herera’s perseverance brought her children’s plight to the attention of members of the U.S. Senate and State Department, who turned a domestic conflict into an international scandal. Rothman was invited to speak at the library by  Jean Gibran –she recently talked at the library about her memoir, Love Made Visible, the story of her marriage to sculptor Kahlil Gibran– and Ann Hershfang, who last year brought you the talk at the library by veteran New York Times reporter, Stepen Kinzer, author of The Brothers.

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Bestselling Writer Jennifer Haigh Will Talk at the SE Library on Tuesday, March 10, at 6:30 PM about her Most Recent Book, “News from Heaven,” Stories Set in the Coal Mining Town of Bakerton, PA

2015 March 6
by marleen

jenn haighAcclaimed short-story writer and novelist Jennifer Haigh will read at the South End library on Tuesday, March 10 from her latest collection, News from Heaven, the winner of the 2014 Massachusetts Book Award and the 2014 PEN/New England Award in Fiction. She will be introduced by poet Henri Cole, himself an award-winning author, and longtime resident of the South End.

Linked by place and a cast of characters, the stories are set in the coal mining community of Bakerton, Pennsylvania, but the town’s economic decline and its players’ challenges notwithstanding, the  book was described by reviewer Janet Maslin of the New York Times, as  “uplifting and radiant.” The Boston Globe’s reviewer called the stories “a distinct, shining example of Haigh’s remarkable gifts for lyricism, psychological insight, and stealth humor.”

Haigh’s two grandfathers and several uncles were coal miners, she told an interviewer for the literary magazine The Common in 2013; her mother was a librarian who was “always putting the right book in my hands at the right time.” She won the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction and other prestigious literary prizes, and is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, (The Condition and Baker Towers). Her 2012 short story Paramour, originally published in Ploughshares, was included in the 2012 edition of The Best American Short Stories. Other critically praised novels include Faith and Mrs. Kimble. Her books have been published in sixteen languages.

The reading starts at 6:30 PM. The library is fully handicapped accessible. Space is limited. Refreshments are served. Copies of the author’s books are available for sale and borrowing.

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Authors Coming Up Next at the South End Library: 

Tuesday, March 31, 6:30 PMsee now then

JAMAICA KINCAID, the celebrated author of prize-winning novels, essays and short stories, married and divorced the son of the legendary New Yorker editor, William Shawn, a composer of classical music. Kincaid’s latest novel, See Now Then, is written in Kincaid’s unique elegiac, yet biting prose style, also used effectively in some of her previous books. See Now Then recently won the 2014 American Book Award, a prize created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement in America’s diverse literary community. The plot centers on a nasty divorce after the husband finds a younger wife, one of the many details in this book of fiction that appear to echo Kincaid’s life.

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Tuesday, April 14, 6:30 PM

jack beattieJACK BEATTY,  author and erudite news analyst on WBUR and other radio shows, will talk about his latest book, The Lost History of 1914: Reconsidering the Year the Great War Began. The New Yorker described it as a “counterfactual history;” David Shribman, in his review of the it in the Boston Globe, called it “found history”, in light of the vulnerability of the continent to war that year, uncovered by Beatty. A former senior editor at The Atlantic Monthly for many years, Beatty also also helped write (or, as some have suggested, wrote) former  Boston mayor Tom Menino’s 2014 memoir, Mayor for a New America. Other titles by Beatty, who won numerous awards and prestigious fellowships, are The Rascall King (a biography of former Boston mayor James Michael Curly), The World According to Peter Drucker, The Age of Betrayal: the Triumph of Money in America, and Colossus: How the Corporation Changed America.

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Jamaica Kincaid’s Scheduled Reading Tuesday Evening, February 10, Has Been Canceled Due to a “Plague of Snow,” (in the Author’s Words)

2015 February 9
by marleen

jk2As seemed likely when the snow flakes multiplied exponentially on Monday, the South End library’s hosting of Jamaica Kincaid on Tuesday, February 10, was postponed to a later date. Kincaid commented to novelist Sue Miller, who had invited her to talk about her latest work, See Now Then, that the weather’s events seemed “biblical, a plague of snow.” That quote is all we will get from the acclaimed author for the moment. As soon as a new date is set, you will hear more.

The next scheduled writer is Jennifer Haigh, award-winning author of News from Heaven, the Bakerton Stories, on Tuesday, March 10. For details, see the post below.

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Antiguan-American Novelist, Essayist and Gardener, Jamaica Kincaid, Will Talk at the South End Library about her Latest Book, “See Now Then,” on Tuesday, February 10, 6:30 PM

2015 February 6
by marleen

jamaica kJamaica Kincaid,  the award-winning author of novels, essays and short stories, moved from the Antiguan island of St. John’s where she was born in 1949, to New York City when she was seventeen. She worked there for a while as an au-pair and, after a three-year stint of college classes, began to write for magazines and weeklies, including The Village Voice, and then The New Yorker, in 1976. She became the protege of its revered and feared editor at the time, William Shawn, and married his son, Allen Shawn, a composer of classical music. They since divorced. Kincaid’s latest novel, See Now Then, will be the topic of her upcoming visit to the South End library. The plot centers on a nasty divorce after the husband finds a younger wife, one of the many details in this book of fiction that appear to echo Kincaid’s life. It recently won the 2014 American Book Award, a prize created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement in America’s diverse literary community.

Kincaid has written five novels, including The Autobiography of my Mother, and a moving and courageous memoir of her brother’s struggles with AIDS and death, called My Brother.   Her 1983 short-story collection, At the Bottom of the River, won the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. The writer has numerous other excellent books and articles to her name, including  My Garden Bookon the ennobling subject of gardening.

The event starts at 6:30 PM. The South End branch is fully handicapped accessible. Seating is limited. Come early if you want to be sure you can get squeezed in.

NOTE: The event could be canceled due to predicted snowfall, so please check this web site before you leave for the library…or call the library at 617 536-8241..then press 0 for a quick answer from a live staffer.

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NEXT AUTHOR COMING UP AT THE SOUTH END LIBRARY:

Tuesday, March 10, 6:30 PM

J HAIGHJENNIFER HAIGH, a winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction and other prestigious literary prizes, Haigh is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, (The Condition and Baker Towers). Recognized as an outstanding short-story writer, Haigh grew up as a coal miner’s daughter in central Pennsylvania. Her most recent collection of short stories, News from Heaven, the Bakerton Stories, was called “an uplifting and radiant book” by Janet Maslin, the reviewer for the New York Times. The Boston Globe’s reviewer called the linked stories in this collection “a distinct, shining example of Haigh’s remarkable gifts for lyricism, psychological insight, and stealth humor.”

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Combining Libraries and Housing: Boston City Councilors, the BPL and the Walsh Administration Are Considering Mixed-use Developments that Include New Branches and Affordable Housing

2015 January 24
by marleen
Delridge public library branch in Seattle, WA, has three levels of housing on top

Delridge public library branch in Seattle, WA, has nineteen units of housing on top

A city council hearing last December 12, organized by councilors Sal LaMattina and Frank Baker, looked into the possibility of combining affordable housing and branch libraries in Boston.  City agency heads –of Inspectional Services, Housing, and the Boston Public Library– attended the December hearing as well and, if the enthusiastic response of the attendees was any indication, such mixed-use developments could happen in Boston in the not-too-distant future. Councilor Baker’s district includes part of the South End and the Dorchester Fields Corner branch, the latter vastly overdue for renovation and expansion. Baker said he hopes to get a proposal for this type of mixed-use development off the ground this year. Representatives  of the Fields Corner local business community who testified at the hearing indicated their support. Longtime advocates for a new Chinatown branch in attendance also embraced the concept of mixed-use housing and libraries, and are said to be looking into city-owned property downtown for such a project with representatives of relevant city agencies.

The building for the Chinatown branch of the Seattle Public Library includes housing and a community center

The building for the Chinatown branch of the Seattle Public Library includes housing and a community center

Combining libraries and housing in a range of sizes has been done successfully in other cities: the St Paul, MI, public library in 2007 opened a new branch of more than 31,300 square feet with 98 units of housing above it. In Seattle, WA, the Chinatown branch of the public library system, in operation since 2005, is on the first floor of a five-story structure that offers housing and a community center. It is smaller than the St Paul Rondo Library, less than 4,000 square feet. Also in Seattle, the Delridge public library branch, completed in 2002, anchors the first floor of a three-story building that features 19 apartments. That branch’s library area is 5,600 square feet.

St Paul's (MI) Rondo Outreach Library branch building includes 98 affordable apartments

St Paul’s (MI) Rondo Outreach Library branch building includes 98 affordable apartments

The Rondo Outreach Library of the St Paul Public Library, which opened in 2007, got its name for a reason: extensive outreach by the library’s staff to the surrounding community helped create a branch that met the stated needs of local library users: low-income residents, immigrants from many nations, students, and members of the Rondo African-American neighborhood that thrived there until an interstate was built through it in the 1960s. Rondo residents told the library staff  they wanted classrooms and art in the new branch, and that is what they got: classrooms for after-school programs, tutoring, ESL classes and a range of workshops line the library’s interior walls. Work by many local artists is on display and represents different cultures, reflecting the neighborhood’s diversity. In another bow to residents’ need for community space, a separate entrance allows local groups to have access to the library’s community room for meetings when the branch is closed.

In Brooklyn, NY, moreover, several proposals are being considered to add housing on top of first- floor branch libraries that need to be renovated and expanded. According to the New York Times’s architecture critic, Michael Kimmelman, the dilapidated Cadman Plaza branch in the well-to-do Brooklyn Heights section of Brooklyn could be turned into a 21,ooo-square-foot library with 38 floors of market-rate housing on top. Affordable housing units for this project are proposed to be in a different location, a detail seen as “a red flag” by Kimmelman, although conceding off-site subsidized housing would allow for more affordable apartments. In a less affluent neighborhood in the same borough, the 12,000-square-foot Sunset Park library would become a 20,000 square-feet ground-floor new library with a seven-story tower on top, including affordable units. For details on the article, click here. 

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