“I am really grateful because I know the people who have won [the Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant] in the past go on to do bigger and better things.”
Negesti Kaudo, 2015 Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant winner congratulated by Steven Moore of the Columbus Foundation.
Every day Ohioana Library works to connect readers and Ohio writers. Serving over 150,000 people a year, Ohioana celebrates Ohio’s creativity through its festival and awards while collecting and preserving the state’s rich literary heritage.
Your donation will make a BIG difference! And thanks to The Big Give, it will go farther. From 10 a.m. Tuesday, October 10th to 12 noon Wednesday, October 11th, your gift will be amplified courtesy of a $1.3 million bonus pool.
Donations help Ohioana continue outreach to children and underrepresented populations, keep the largest festival on Ohio literature free, and provide encouragement to up-and-coming authors like Negesti Kaudo and now Pulitzer Prize Winner Anthony Doerr.
Donating during The Big Give is simple!
VISIT beginning at 10 a.m. October 10.
GIVE securely using a major credit card with a minimum gift of $20.
CELEBRATE as you’ve made a real difference!
All gifts must be made using a credit card or through a Columbus Foundation Donor Advised Fund on The Columbus Foundation’s website.
If you have any questions, please contact Ohioana Executive Director David Weaver at 614-466-3831 or email@example.com.
Thank you for ensuring Ohio’s literary legacy thrives and that authors like Negesti and Anthony can connect with people like you.
Books are banned for all kinds of reasons. They might contain graphic depictions of sexuality or violence, or they might be considered unsuitable for younger readers. The language might be offensive to some or the ideas might not fit with the community in which the book is being read (or not read). It’s not always about one group of people trying to make sure that another group of people isn’t going to have any fun — sometimes the reasons that people object are more complicated or nuanced.
Ohio has its share of banned books. Beloved by Toni Morrison is a perpetual favorite. Our own Margaret Peterson Haddix made it on the list in 2005 for Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey. Libraries face the brunt of challenges and parents are the greatest group of challengers.
In this day and age of internet access and digital download, the thought of completely banning a book seems quaint or even impossible. And it seems like banning something just creates a large virtual HEY READ THIS!!! sign post.
Celebrate the week in the way you best see fit! Read something banned!
It’s a day of nostalgia for us at Ohioana because ten years ago today, September 15, 2007, the very first Ohioana Book Festival was presented, “A ‘Good Roots’ Celebration,” based on the book edited by Lisa A. Watts and published by Ohio University Press & Swallow Press. Ten contributors to the book, including Lisa, came to Columbus for that inaugural event. Pictured here: (l-r seated) Anthony Doerr, Jill Bialosky, Scott Russell Sanders, Jill Salamon, Lisa A. Watts, Michael Dirda, and Elizabeth Dodd; standing l-r, Dale Keiger, James Toedtman, and Dan Cryer.
The picture was taken in the State Library of Ohio, which has been painted and primed and re-carpeted and improved over the past 10 years.
We couldn’t have done it without our supporters, who came in with gifts so that we could support our authors and have an all-around great celebration. We had a party at the Governor’s Residence afterword — and then we did it all again in May of 2008 in order to get on track and keep the festival in the spring!
We had a lot to learn but learn we did. No one could’ve predicted then that a decade later the event would draw over 120 authors, 3,000-plus attendees and be the state’s largest celebration of Ohio books and authors.
There are two great opportunities for area writers coming up this month, and there’s still time to register!
The Thurber House, where laughter, learning, and literature meet, begins its adult two-session writing workshops on September 11 with Revise Like a Rock Star. Deadline for registrations is soon: September 4.
SICCO (Sisters in Crime Columbus Ohio), the local chapter of Sisters in Crime, an international organization promoting women in crime writing, is hosting a day-long forensics writing workshop on Sept. 23. The event is at the lodge at Blacklick Woods Metro Park.
Ohio author Andrew Welsh-Huggins is the keynote speaker along with a U.S. marshal, a state crime investigator and a Columbus police detective. Registration is $60, which includes breakfast, lunch and a reception at day’s end. Buy tickets here.
Join us for one of Ohioana’s most elegant evenings: the 76th Ohioana Awards on October 6.
We’ll gather in the Statehouse Atrium on Friday, October 6, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and honor our writers and Ohioana’s grand tradition of recognizing some deserving and creative people.
Tickets are $50 and available for purchase. The cost includes wine and hors d’oeuvres. The Awards Ceremony is always a good time for everyone, and we hope you’ll join us!
This year’s event includes winners in seven categories:
Marisa Silver, Little Nothing, Blue Rider Press.
Douglas Brinkley, Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America, Harper.
About Ohio or an Ohioan
J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, Harper.
C.F. Payne (illustrator) and Sue Macy (author), Miss Mary Reporting: The True Story of Sportswriter Mary Garber, Paula Wiseman Books.
Middle Grade/Young Adult Literature
Sally Derby, Jump Back Paul, Candlewick.
Teri Ellen Cross Davis, Haint: Poems, Gival Press.
Tiffany McDaniel, The Summer That Melted Everything, St. Martin’s Press.
For several years now, the Ohioana Quarterly has benefited from the help of a special group of reviewers: students at the Columbus School for Girls. The girls at CSG have provided their unique insights and kid-focused opinions to give us some much-appreciated reviews of all kinds of books. We also appreciate the work of their teachers, Charlotte Stiverson and Tracy Kessler, who help pair the books with the reviewers and provide direction. It’s a true win-win for all! Charlotte is also an author, and you can find her book, Nellie’s Walk, at Amazon.com as well as other stores where books are sold.
Houts, Michelle. Winterfrost. Candlewick (Somerville MA) 2014 HB $16.99
Winterfrost by Michelle Houts is a Danish fantasy book about a 12-year-old girl named Bettina and her baby sister Pia. It is an average Christmas on the Larsen family farm when they suddenly find out that their mormor (grandma) had hurt her hip and was in the hospital. Their dad is visiting their uncle and their mom needs to go to the hospital for their mormor so the kids are home alone for about a week. In all the commotion, they forget to put out the traditional rice pudding for their nisse (which are like elves or gnomes). Their nisse, Klarkke, gets upset and makes some mischief around the barn. That day when Bettina puts baby Pia outside to nap and get some fresh air something terrible happens. Klarkke takes baby Pia! He takes her to his Uncle Gammel’s house and leaves her at the bottom of the tree were his house is. While Klarkke is inside talking to his uncle, a wayward nisse comes along and takes Pia with him. Will Bettina be able to go on the adventure to get her baby sister before her parents get home? Read the book to find out.
The book was interesting and well written. It could be very suspenseful at some points. Winterfrost has some tough vocabulary and Danish sayings like mormor (grandma), mor (mom), farfar(grandpa), far(dad), and Danish songs that can be hard to understand. I would recommend this book to kids fourthgrade and older. This was a really interesting book.
Reviewed by Katherine Niven, Mrs. Kessler’s class, Columbus School for Girls.
Kennedy, Anne Vittur. The Farmer’s Away! Baa! Neigh! Candlewick Press (Somerville MA) 2014 HB $15.99.
The Farmer’s Away is a book written by Anne Vittur Kennedy. The Farmer’s Away is a silly, fun book about animals who can’t wait until their farmer leaves so that they can do some things you normally wouldn’t see an animal do, such as water skiing an having a picnic. In this book, the animals put clothing on together and they laugh and giggle. However, when the farmer returns, all of the animals run back to their stalls and throw off their clothes so that the farmer will never know what kind of day they had.
I think that this book would be good for children ages 3-5 because the pictures are bright, and the words are easy to read, and you can really get what is going on. This book is good for kids who like farm animals, and I hope that sometime you will be able to sit down and enjoy the book!
Book review by Sammy Kleinman, in Ms. Kessler’s fourth grade class, at Columbus School for Girls.
Even though 2018 seems like it’s far into the future, it’s practically tomorrow when it comes to the Ohioana Book Festival. Yes, we have begun planning for our 2018 event and we are once again reaching out to qualifying authors.
The festival will be held on Saturday April 14, 2018, and we’re returning to the Sheraton Columbus Capitol Square. The 2017 event was great fun for all and we pride ourselves on taking care of our authors and providing a first-class experience for our visitors. It’s a great space for book lovers!
The 2018 application is due by October 31. We look forward to hearing from old friends and new to make the 2018 event the best yet!
The Ohioana Library has announced the winners of the 2017 Ohioana Awards, including seven book awards and the Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant.
First given in 1942, the Ohioana Book Awards are the second oldest, and among the most prestigious, state literary prizes in the nation. Nearly every major writer from Ohio in the past 75 years has been honored, from James Thurber to Toni Morrison. The 2017 winners are:
Fiction: Marisa Silver, Little Nothing
Nonfiction: Douglas Brinkley, Rightful Heritage – Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America
Poetry: Teri Ellen Cross Davis, Haint
About Ohio/Ohioan: J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy – A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Middle Grade/Young Adult Literature: Sally Derby, Jump Back, Paul – The Life and Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar
Juvenile Literature: C.F. Payne, Miss Mary Reporting
Reader’s Choice: Tiffany McDaniel, The Summer That Melted Everything
Six of the awards were selected by juries, while the Readers’ Choice Award was chosen by voters in an online poll.
“It was tough for judges to make a decision,” said Ohioana Executive Director David Weaver. “This year’s thirty finalists included winners of the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the Newbery Medal, and the Pushcart Prize; a Guggenheim Fellow; two U.S. Children’s Poet Laureates; CNN’s Presidential Historian; and five authors whose titles made either the New York Times or Amazon 2016 year-end “best” list. It was truly an outstanding year for Ohio authors and books.”
In addition to the book awards, Ohioana announced Ashley Bethard as the 28th winner of the Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant, a competitive prize for Ohio writers age 30 or younger who have not yet published a book. The grant, named for Ohioana’s second director and endowed by his family, has helped launch a number of notable literary careers, including Anthony Doerr. Doerr won the grant in 2000 at age 26 and has gone on to become one of America’s leading contemporary authors, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2015 for All the Light We Cannot See.
The Ohioana Awards will be presented Friday, October 6, in the Atrium of Ohio’s historic Statehouse in Columbus. Tickets for event, which include a pre-awards reception, will go on sale August 25.
We asked Amy Gustine, one of our Ohioana Award Fiction finalists, to provide some insight about her work. Amy, thanks so much for taking the time to do this. We appreciate your work and your support of Ohioana!
Ohioana: What inspired you to write your stories?
Amy Gustine: The collection is made up of stories written over the course of ten years, so each one has its own origin story. In general, though, I’m intrigued by the unanswered questions and the peripheral people in news stories—the things happening behind the scenes. The title story, for example, started with wondering about the experience of being married to someone like Christopher Hitchens, a very vocal, public atheist intensely critical of religion. As the story developed, obviously it wasn’t Christopher Hitchens’ actual spouse I was interested in, but rather the person I imagined in Molly, whose ambivalence sometimes clashes with her husband Simon’s unyielding certainty. I’m generally interested in morality—its source, its internal conflicts—and so that also was a natural fit for this story. The character of Adoo in the story was inspired by an article I happen to read about an uncontacted tribe of people infected by the common cold in Peru. Except for a small number of children, the tribe perished, and the children had to be placed in adoptive homes in the U.S. and Canada. As so often happens in my work, many seemingly disparate incidents or people I read or hear about come together like puzzle pieces to create something new.
Ohioana: How does a sense of place inform your work? If that place happens to be Ohio, would love your thoughts on that.
Amy Gustine: I grew up in Toledo, Ohio in a small family of introverted homebodies and I don’t have any aunts, uncles or first cousins. For me, then, place has always started at home, and setting and society were for a long time overshadowed in my imagination by intimate relationships. I’ve worked consciously to step out of the house, to look up and down the street and across town imaginatively, but even that process started with my family. My grandparents were working people. During the Depression one of grandfather’s picked up bricks for a dollar a day and was involved with the early union movement in Toledo. One of my grandmother’s was the first woman to work at a large chemical lab in town. This type of family experience fed an interest in local history, which led to stories on things like the famous 1934 Auto-Lite strike here in Toledo, a defining moment in the development of labor protections. One of my great aunts was a scab in that strike, and the rift it caused never completely healed. So relationships are always the starting point in my work, and setting follows from them. Beginning with the characters is the only way I’m able to enter the work emotionally, to attach myself enough to walk the long fictional road, but I have found that I’ve grown more sensitized over the years to the way that place creates character, the way the physical and social landscape shapes us. That’s where setting becomes interesting to me—where it impacts character.
Ohioana: Can you tell us about your writing process?
Amy Gustine: People talk about being a planner or a “pantser.” In other words, you either figure the plot and characters out ahead of time, or you start writing and see where it goes, flying by the seat of your pants. E.L. Doctorow famously split the difference, saying that writing was like driving at night in fog: you can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. I’d say my process is closest to Doctorow’s, but more serpentine and loopy. I’m driving at night, in the dark, consulting a map I drew that is in fact just the roughest sketch of what I assume the landscape and roads look like. I discover the flaws in the map as I write, the forks in the road, the detours and potholes. I spy interesting stops and surprise exits, too, then I realize I forgot something at one of those stops and have to double back. In other words, I plan, then I write, then I re-plan, then I write some more, and on and on as I narrow down the project. I’m always too ambitious to begin with, and inevitably have to be content with the destination I achieve rather than the one I hoped to reach.
Ohioana: What would you like to tell us about the publishing process?
Amy Gustine: My publishing experience with Sarabande Books was uniformly wonderful. The managing editor at the time, Kirby Gann, made significant editorial suggestions about one of the eleven stories in the collection, and his comments proved very astute. The revisions made it a much better work. Each of the other stories was thoroughly, carefully line-edited, which I really appreciated. When the book came out I felt confident that it truly was the best it could be. I learned some things about promoting a book by working with Sarabande’s publicist, the fantastic Ariel Lewiton, but I would certainly be keen to know more. It’s kind of an opaque process for a writer outside the central literary world of New York City.
Ohioana: What would you tell anyone who wants to write a novel or story collection?
Amy Gustine: Read novels and stories you like two and three times. Read them first for fun, then again to spot what I call “the strings”—like a puppet in a theatre. There are so many choices when you construct something out of nothing. Point of view. Order of scenes. Which scenes to relate in detail, which to summarize. What part of the characters’ past to relate. What tone to use. How to divide up the text into chunks—sections, chapters, parts. How to label those parts, or whether to label them at all. The choices are so staggering, and each work so magically unique in its success, that the aspiring writer has a tremendous uphill learning curve. They’ll have to grab on and start learning in earnest. Part of this will be giving up a great deal of the innocent, easy pleasure of letting a great author chauffer you around town without paying attention to the route.
Ohioana: What are you currently working on?
Amy Gustine: I’m writing a novel about a real person—a politically and cultural important woman with a complex, controversial legacy. The novel spans a lot of time, involves a lot of hot-button issues, and features a lot of major historical events, so the road is long, curvy, bumpy, and I don’t have a great map. It feels less like driving and more like crawling on my knees.
Ohioana: Any inspirational quotes from other writers that you enjoy?
Amy Gustine: I got that last one from Vladimir Holan. “From the sketch to the work one travels on one’s knees.”
One of my favorites is Ernest Hemingway’s dictum: “The first draft of anything is shit.” That might sound depressing, but it’s just the opposite for me. The idea that I have to write something good today is paralyzing. It’s especially terrifying during the first draft of a long project. When I think of Hemingway’s words, I think okay, so I’m going to write a piece of shit today. Tomorrow I’ll worry about trying to polish a turd into a golden nugget. That gets SOMETHING on the page to work with, and something is always infinitely better than nothing.
A couple of other helpers I cling to include:
“When you get stuck, go back to the physical world.”
“Write simple sentences. Report. Don’t moralize. No pretensions.”