Author News and Book Reports

Russell Banks shows he's one of America's leading writers in more ways than one
Widely acknowledged as one of America's most critically acclaimed and bestelling authors, Russell Banks, whose first non-fiction book, Dreaming Up America, was recently released in paperback (Seven Stories Press; February, 2010), appeared at the 2008 Miami Book Fair International to promote Cities of Refuge North America, an organization of safe houses for oppressed writers, which he co-founded in 2003, along with Salman Rushdie and Nigerian Nobel Prize-winning poet and playwright Wole Soyinka. Having outlined the history of the organization, Banks went on to map the Cities Of Refuge, headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, a network of some twenty cities, joined in 2009 by Miami and the Miami Dade College just months after Banks' presentation. Banks next introduced politcally oppressed performance poet Irakli Kakabadze from the Republic of Georgia, who received asylum in Ithaca, New York. Expressing his appreciation for the warm people and weather of Miami, Kakabadze offered a sample of what he called his'Polyphonic Blues' genre, a poem called Condominium Of Free Will, and followed with lyrics to Postindustrial Boys. After an introduction by Banks, Swaziland poet Sarah Mkhonza reflected on the cultural clash of AIDS and monarchical rule in Swaziland before engaging the audience in a tribal poetry performance. Having also found asylum in Ithaca, New York,Mkhonza then detailed the back story of her own political persecution in Swaziland and closed with a reading of her poem This Country Spills Death published in her collection titled Weeding the Flowerbeds (Xlibris; April, 2009). Banks concluded the author presentations with an introduction of Nobel Laureate and Executive Director of the Cities of Refuge North America program, Derek Walcott, who read his poem called Spanish Series and a poem commissioned by England's Sunday Times in honor of the historic 2008 election of President Barack Obama called Forty Acres, published in his new volume of poems called White Egrets (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; March, 2010), which many speculate could be the 80-year old Caribbean artist's last poems.

Book and Author Headlines

James Patterson has so many story ideas he needs 'co-writers' to write them all: America's most prolific bestselling author, James Patterson takes time out from writing to talk about his career at the 2009 National Book Festival.

Van Lustbader, Hogan, Chevalier, and Powell go Hollywood (for better or worse): Bestselling authors Eric Lustbader, Chuck Hogan, Tracy Chevalier, and Julie Powell discuss the leap from book to movie with Booklist editor Brad Hooper at the 2010 ALA Midwinter Meeting.

Cornel West walks the tightrope of hope, living and loving out loud in the Age of Obama: American moral and religious philosopher, author, critic, actor, and civil rights activist Cornel West reviews American myths and politics in the Age of Obama in an interview with PBS-TV and Public Radio International host Tavis Smiley at the 2009 BookExpo America (BEA) book trade show.

Elizabeth Gilbert finds commitment in the aftermath of 'Eat, Pray, Love': Appearing at the 2010 American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter meeting, Elizabeth Gilbert describes how she overcame anxieties and doubt, finding committment in marriage and her own voice to write the book that followed her meteoric memoir 'Eat, Pray, Love.'

Andy Borowitz and Susie Essman rock book lovers and bring down the house in Miami: Andy Borowitz and Susie Essman team up at the the final event of the 2009 Miami Book Fair International for an evening finale of their special brands of satire blended withironic reflections on their own comedy careers.

Wally Lamb gently shepherds his readers to introspection: Critically acclaimed bestselling author Wally Lamb tends to his large flock of fans with readings and personal revelations.

Thomas Friedman calls for a 'real' green revolution: New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas Friedman takes the floor at the 2008 BookExpo America booksellers convention to introduce what was then his soon-to-be published new book ['Hot, Flat, And Crowded.'

Orhan Pamuk looks to Faulkner for courage and Marquez for inspiration: Turkey's only Nobel Laureate, Orhan Pamuk, reads from his new novel, 'The Museum of Innocence,' and points to a range of literary heroes, from Faulkner to Marquez, for courage and inspiration at the 2009 Miami Book Fair International.

Barbara Kingsolver fills a nine-year gap with 'The Lacuna': Nine years after the publication of her mega-seller, 'The Poisonwood Bible,' Barbara Kingsolver presents her new novel, 'The Lacuna,' at the 2009 Miami Book Fair International.

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