Welcome to Grove at Home!
Every weekday, from now until we’re all out of the house again, we’ll be sharing a couple of links — some fresh, some from the vault — to say hi, remind you to keep reading, and let you know what’s on our minds.
Wednesday, November 25
Few writers have left behind more complex legacies — or more stunning writing — than the controversial, and undeniably brilliant, Yukio Mishima, who died by seppuku fifty years ago today, after leading an unsuccessful coup that aimed to overturn Japan’s 1947 constitution. In this stunning interview, Mishima shares his opinions on various aspects of Japanese culture. “Economic prosperity… gives a big, huge spiritual vacuum, unbearable boredom, particularly among intellectuals… And in the present situation, we are never satisfied, we are never contented, and we can’t believe such economic prosperity… We have a long tradition of samurai. They lived for order and spirit, and they despised and looked down on money.”
The Washington Post’s Best Books of 2020
It’s that time of year again! The Best-of-2020 lists have started flowing, reminders all that, as bad a year as it’s been in many ways, remarkable and fantastic books have continued to be published. Today, we’re especially enjoying the Washington Post’s list, where we’re delighted to see a number of our books: Vesper Flights and Writers & Lovers in the Top 10, The Awkward Black Man, Shuggie Bain, and Crooked Hallelujah in the 50 Notable Works of Fiction, Shuggie Bain in Best Audiobooks, and The Shapeless Unease in the Most 2020 Books of 2020. And they’re all in remarkable company!
Gil Scott-Heron: “No matter how far wrong you’ve gone / You can always turn around”
Here, to launch us into the holiday weekend, is the wonderful Gil Scott-Heron, performing his song “I’m New Here.”
Tuesday, November 24
Scott Simon talks to Douglas Stuart… again!
Hopefully, you caught Douglas Stuart’s recent appearance on NPR’s Weekend Edition, where he discussed his wonder of a debut novel, Shuggie Bain. Since that interview, Shuggie has, of course, won the Booker Prize! This past Sunday, in a somewhat lower-tech context, Douglas talked with Scott Simon again — and the whole thing was caught on video. Watch it right here:
Our family learns from @Doug_D_Stuart that his great novel, Shuggie Bain, was rejected 32 times! Once published, wins the Booker Prize and is flying off the shelves. Open this novel to any page and wonder, What were they thinking? https://t.co/SCj3Af0vRy
— Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon) November 23, 2020
If you follow the Booker Prizes closely, you may have noticed a pattern over the past few years. Of course, in the US, we’re the publisher of both this year’s winner, Shuggie Bain, and last year’s co-winner, Girl, Woman, Other. But they share more than just a savvy (cough cough) and genial (👋) publisher. They share an editor, too: the simply wonderful Peter Blackstock. In a splendid interview today with Literary Hub’s Katie Yee, Peter opens up about how his own background informs his work, his broad and remarkably good taste, and more.
“I love having a list that reflects the world, and you don’t have to sacrifice on quality to do so, in fact, quite the opposite. I want my list to reflect both the American experience, particularly of people who are marginalized by societal power, and the broader world beyond the States. I can’t imagine not publishing books in translation, or not publishing novels that take chances in their form or style, from Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater to Jean-Baptiste del Amo’s Animalia to Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other.” Continue reading…
Michael Knight reads from Eveningland
We’re big fans of Michael Knight, as you can tell from the fact that we’ve published seven books by him. In this clip from the 2018 Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Michael charms the heck out of his audience, draws some subtle distinctions between residents of various parts of the South, and reads from his 2017 collection Eveningland.
Monday, November 23
Viet Thanh Nguyen remembers his parents’ struggle
“Like many refugees, they were human sacrifices. They risked their lives to flee a war-torn country, Vietnam, and then gave of themselves in this new country so their children wouldn’t have to risk their lives or sacrifice themselves.” In a clip aired this morning on CBS News, Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sympathizer and its forthcoming sequel The Committed, remembers his parents, who brought their family as refugees from Vietnam to San Jose, California, where they ran a small grocery store called Sàigòn Mới and worked, every day, to make a better life. Take five minutes and watch this moving, fascinating, wonderful segment.
The National Book Foundation on Walter Mosley
Remember last week? The glorious, incredible, fantastic time when Walter Mosley received the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters? And it was presented by Edwidge Danticat in a live broadcast? And we all watched from home and screamed and toasted with champagne in our peejays? It was truly a phenomenal time. Here, in case you missed it, is the National Book Foundation’s page on Mosley, the medal, and the distinguished and admired author who presented it.
“‘Mosley is a master of craft and narrative, and through his incredibly vibrant and diverse body of work, our literary heritage has truly been enriched,’ said David Steinberger, Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation. ‘From mysteries to literary fiction to nonfiction, Mosley’s talent and memorable characters have captivated readers everywhere, and the Foundation is proud to honor such an illustrious voice whose work will be enjoyed for years to come.’” Continue reading…
Alan Cumming on Shuggie Bain
In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award, some other tremendous news from last week: Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart’s glorious, widely- and instantly- and passionately-acclaimed debut novel, has won the Booker Prize!!! While we’re still digesting the champagne and praising the wisdom of the Booker judges, we’re also once again enjoying this video, produced by the Booker folks shortly before the prize was announced, in which fellow Scot Alan Cumming sings Shuggie’s praises. There is indeed “nothing better than having a book you just can’t wait to pick up again.”