It’s nearly here! Tomorrow night is the 77th Annual Ohioana Award ceremony, to be held at the Ohio Statehouse. This year’s crop of winners joins a prestigious club that includes such notable authors as Mary Doria Russell, Wil Haygood, Paula McClain, Toni Morrison, and Anthony Doerr.
The Ohioana Book Awards are the second oldest, and among the most prestigious, state literary prizes in the nation. Nearly every notable Ohio writer of the past 77 years has been honored.
The first Ohioana Book Award, presented in 1942, was given in the category of nonfiction to James Reston’s Prelude to Victory.
Awards for juvenile literature and fiction were first presented in 1943, followed in 1944 by poetry and book about Ohio/an Ohioan, and in 2014, middle grade/young adult literature. To these juried awards, we added a Readers’ Choice Award in 2016, allowing readers to choose their favorite book from among the finalists selected by judges.
The 2018 honorees are:
Fiction: Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere Nonfiction: Deanne Stillman, Blood Brothers Poetry: Ruth Awad, Set to Music a Wildfire About Ohio or an Ohioan: Brian Alexander, Glass House Middle Grade / Young Adult: Tamara Bundy, Walking with Miss Millie Juvenile Literature: Sally Derby, A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices Reader’s Choice: Tamara Bundy, Walking with Miss Millie
Additionally, at the Ohioana Award ceremony, we also present the Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant, which is awarded annually to a writer under the age of 30 who has not yet published a book. This year’s winner is Christopher Alexander Gellert. He joins the likes of Jeannie Vanasco, Ellis Avery, Anthony Doerr, Shari Goldhagen, Bernard Farai Matambo, Sarah Menkedick, and many more writers who have gone on to publish award-winning books.
Congratulations to all of our winners! For more information about them, see the Fall issue of the Ohioana Quarterly. To learn more about previous winners of the Ohioana Awards, click here, and to watch previous ceremonies click here.
Although autumn doesn’t officially start until September 22nd, it certainly already feels as if the seasons have changed. The chilly, rainy weather of this past week might bring to mind thoughts of changing leaves, pumpkin pie and shorter days. Here at Ohioana, it also reminds us of the myriad of literary events that happen around the state during the autumn. Whether you’re looking to hear your favorite author speak about their work, get a book signed, or buy something new to read, there should be something to satisfy you in the coming months. Check out our list below for some literary events around Ohio this fall that you shouldn’t miss.
Cleveland Public Poetry: Featuring Maxwell Shell
When: September 15th, 12:00pm-1:00pm
Where: Literature Department, Main Library, 325 Superior Ave., 2nd FL
What: “Ohio Center for the Book and Cleveland Public Library invite you to celebrate the changing of the season amidst the readings of written and spoken-word poetry, with our special guest reader poet MaxWell Shell. After a brief Q&A, the mic will open for others to read an original or favorite work. Free refreshments and snacks provided. Door prizes, too!”
What: “In partnership with Columbus City Schools, Gramercy Books welcomes award-winning author and journalist, Wil Haygood, to Columbus East High School for his national book tour launch of Tigerland:1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing. Haygood will share the story of Columbus’ own East High School Tigers, who won baseball and basketball state championships in the midst of the racial turbulence and segregation of the late 1960s, and how they inspired a community.”
Admission: Free, but tickets must be reserved through Eventbrite
Where: Schottenstein Theatre at Bexley High School
326 South Cassingham Road
Bexley , OH 43229
What: “Join us in welcoming Columbus’ own, Wil Haygood, for a special afternoon featuring his new book, Tigerland:1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing, an emotional, inspiring story of two teams from a poor, black, segregated high school in Columbus, who, in the midst of the racial turbulence of 1968/1969, win the Ohio state baseball and basketball championships in the same year. This program, to include an author talk, reading and book signing, is presented in partnership with Bexley Public Library.”
What: “Wil Haygood, Pulitzer-nominated journalist and New York Times best-selling author of The Butler and Showdown will be discussing his new book, Tigerland: 1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing. Tigerland tells the story of Columbus’ East High School Tigers, baseball and basketball teams from a poor, black, segregated high school that each won two Ohio state championships in the same year, uniting a racially-charged community in the aftermath of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Haygood is praised for connecting the civil rights movement and its iconic heroes with current events and enduring struggles. Above all, he brings the powerful perspective that this is the history of all Americans, shaping our national identity and common values. Haygood will be interviewed by his friend, Michael Carter, chief diversity officer at Sinclair Community College. Copies of Tigerland, in addition to other titles by Haygood, will be available for purchase. A book signing will follow the presentation.”
What: “This year’s festival will feature accomplished visiting writers, a book fair, a caucus for literary arts nonprofits, panels on many aspects of the literary arts, craft talks, workshops and readings in fiction, nonfiction and poetry.”
When: September 27th-30th, check website for times
Where: Varying locations, check website for more information
What: “CXC is a free, citywide arts festival hosted every year by people and places with a passion for cartoon arts. CXC connects the global family of cartoon storytellers, comic makers, and animators with the people who love and are inspired by their art. Together, they celebrate the stories that can only be told in visual media that are as diverse as the people who imagined them.”
What: “The Ohioana Book Awards are the second oldest, and among the most prestigious, state literary prizes in the nation. Nearly every notable Ohio writer of the past 76 years has been honored. Tickets for the Awards go on sale on September 15th.”
What: “The premiere event is the Books by the Banks Cincinnati Regional Book Festival held annually in downtown Cincinnati. The day-long festival, which is free and open to the public, features national, regional, and local authors and illustrators; book signings; panel discussions; and activities for the entire family to enjoy.”
What: The Pickerington Teen Book Fest is free and open to the public! Add this event now to your calendars, and get ready to spend one incredible day with twelve incredible authors of teen and young adult fiction!
It’s hard to believe summer is almost over! Though the calendar says there are still a few weeks left, many Ohio schools are already back in session. With Labor Day marking the unofficial end of summer, we thought we would take a look at some great books to enjoy during these final “dog days” of summer.
Most people tend to think of the “dog days” of summer as those days that are the most hot and humid. However, this ubiquitous phrase has its origins in astronomy. The ancient Greeks were the first to notice that the “dog star,” Sirius, rose and set with the sun during July and August. They thought this was the reason for extra heat during that time of year.
Over time, this phrase has come into more common use to describe the type of steamy weather Ohio has seen for much of this summer, when many our canine buddies want to lie around and enjoy some fun in the sun (or shade!). Of course, dogs are not the only ones who like lounging on a hot summer day. Here are some great hot weather reads to help soak up the last few days of sun:
Fun Dog, Sun Dog by Deborah Heiligman, illustrated by Tim Bowers
Meet Tinka – a dandy, sandy golden retriever, and the little boy who loves her, as they spend a busy, dizzy day at the beach. With rhyming text and adorable watercolors by Ohioan Tim Bowers, this is a story that the whole family will enjoy. Ohioana’s furry friend, Kirby thinks it’s a delightful “tail!”
This debut novel by the 2017 Ohioana Readers’ Choice Winner is the perfect choice for a scorching summer day. It’s the tale of the summer of 1984, when a blistering heatwave baked the small town of Breathed, Ohio. Fielding Bliss never forgot that summer – the year he became friends with the devil.
Last Summer with Maizonby Jacqueline Woodson
This first novel by Ohio native and 2018-19 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature tells the story of the beautiful friendship of Margaret and Maizon. The summer Margaret turns eleven, her father unexpectedly dies. Then Maizon is accepted at an expensive boarding school, far away from the place they have grown up together. This exploration of self-discovery and issues like racism and death is a realistic, touching look at the lives and friendships of young African-American girls, and their journey toward adulthood.
One Evil Summer (Fear Street #25) by R. L. Stine
In this fun entry from the Bexley native who has given kids nightmares for decades, it’s summer at the beach and Amanda Conklin is stuck in summer school. At least she doesn’t have to take care of her bratty little brother and sister – that’s Chrissy’s job. Chrissy is the perfect babysitter. But Chrissy has a secret – she’s a cold-blooded killer!
How to Survive a Summer by Nick White
This debut novel by OSU Assistant Professor Nick White centers around a gay conversion camp in Mississippi, and a man’s reckoning with the trauma he faced there as a teenager. It is the story of reconciling the past and learning from the present, of found family, and of working through trauma and grief to reclaim your own story from those who have stolen it.
The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan
In this novel by 2018 Ohioana Book Award Finalist Erin McCahan, it’s the summer after senior year, and Briggs Henry is out the door. He’s leaving behind his ex-girlfriend and his parents’ money troubles for Lake Michigan and its miles of sandy beaches, working a summer job as a personal assistant, and living in a gorgeous Victorian on the shore. It’s the kind of house Briggs plans to buy his parents one day when he’s a multi-millionaire. But then he gets there. And his eighty-four-year-old boss tells him to put on a suit for her funeral. So begins a summer of social gaffes, stomach cramps, fraught beach volleyball games, moonlit epiphanies, and a drawer full of funeral programs. Add to this Abigail, the mystifying girl next door on whom Briggs’s charms just won’t work, and “the lake effect” is taking on a whole new meaning.
It’s that time of year again! It’s to the pleasure of everyone at Ohioana to announce the 2018 Ohioana Awards. Every year, the Awards help Ohioana recognize an outstanding title in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, About Ohio/Ohioan, Middle Grade/Young Adult Literature, Juvenile Literature. Readers are also invited to have their voices heard in voting for the Readers’ Choice Award. In addition, a young writer is chosen as the recipient of the annual Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant.
Six of the Ohioana Award winners, as well as the Marvin Grant recipient, were selected by juries. The Readers’ Choice Award was determined by voters in a public online poll. This year, more than 1390 votes were cast for the Readers’ Choice Award.
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 Ohioana Awards will be presented Thursday, October 18, in the Atrium of Ohio’s historic Statehouse in Columbus. Tickets for event, which are open to the public and include a pre-awards reception, will go on sale mid September. The 2018 Ohioana Award winners are as follows:
Announced alongside the book awards, Ohioana named Christopher Alexander Gellert as the 29th winner of the Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant, a competitive prize for Ohio writers age 30 or younger who have not yet published a book. Gellert recently completed his master’s in lettres modernes, pensée contemporaine at Paris Diderot. Since September 2016 he has been gathering testimonies of the influence of literature on readers in France, conversations they have over dinners he cooks in their homes. His verse has appeared in Belleville Park Pages & FORH Magazine. He will be pursuing a doctorate in the fall on the investigation as an artistic practice with Vincent Broqua at Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint Denis.
Dear readers, the fate of this year’s Readers’ Choice award lies in your hands. Yes, YOU can cast YOUR vote to decide which of the incredible books nominated for the 2018 Ohioana Book Awards will be THE book, the ONE book to win a very special kind of nod.
Ohioana began this program in 2016 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of our awards program. This year, we have a poll that will stay open until Friday, June 29, at 3:00 p.m. You can access the poll here to vote for your favorite of 30 available titles. One vote per computer, please.
Our winner in 2017 was Tiffany McDaniel for her novel The Summer That Melted Everything. For 2016, the winner was Mary Doria Russell for her novel Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral.
The Readers’ Choice award is a great way to include more people in the process of giving awards to those who richly deserve them. We hope you will vote for your favorite too!
Our own Jacqueline Woodson has received honors and awards for her insightful work for many years. Ms. Woodson has over 5 million copies of her books in print, four Newberry Honors, and she is the winner of the National Book Award for Brown Girl Dreaming.
And she owns all of 2018!
In January, Ms. Woodson was named the sixth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, for 2018–2019. Her appointment was official at an inauguration ceremony on Tuesday, January 9 at the Library of Congress, presided over by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.
The National Ambassador for Young People program is sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council, and CBC’s charitable arm, Every Child a Reader. The Librarian of Congress selects the Ambassador based on the recommendations of an independent committee comprised of various children’s literature experts including educators, librarians, and booksellers. Among the criteria for the Ambassador post are: contributions to young people’s literature, the ability to relate to kids and teens, and dedication to fostering literacy in all forms.
Woodson has chosen the phrase “Reading = Hope x Change,” as her platform as Ambassador. “I definitely believe that reading can change us and shape us in so many ways, and through it we can be exposed to people and places and ideas that we might not otherwise come across or confront in real life,” she said. “A platform about the importance of reading and having conversations across the lines of books is really important to me.”
Check out this super-great illustrated press release from her publisher, Nancy Paulson of Nancy Paulson Books, an imprint of Penguin.
Jacqueline Woodson was born in Ohio, so we are pleased and proud to be able to claim her as our own!
Yes, just like Nelson in his famous song, Ohioana is on the road again!
To be exact, a number of Ohioana Book Festival authors are on the road! Our round of outreach appearances with festival authors kicked off April 4 at Upper Arlington Public Library with Hanif Abdurraqib, Ruth Award, and Kristen Lepionka in a lively “New Voices: Ask the Authors” conversation moderated by Ohioana Director David Weaver.
Next week will bring more live author appearances, all of them free and open to the public, just like the Ohioana Book Festival itself. There will be several appearances by authors on radio, too. You can check out the complete list of outreach and media activities on the festival schedule page – just scroll down to Ohioana in the Community:
It’s all part of the fun and excitement leading up to the main event – the 2018 Ohioana Book Festival on Saturday, April 14, from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Sheraton Columbus at Capitol Square. We’ll see you there!
This year’s event will return to the Sheraton Columbus Capital Square on April 14. It’s an all-day extravaganza that features panel discussions, activities for kids, and books for sale. It’s also a great opportunity to meet authors and talk to them about their books. You’ll come away with autographed copies and an appreciation for what goes into your favorite fiction, nonfiction, and picture books. With over 100 authors, you’re sure to meet your favorites and also find new ones.
And plenty of your old favorites will return, like our friend Library Mouse — and FOOD TRUCKS! We’re hoping for a return visit from Schmidt’s (mmmm …. puff pastry!) as well as other TBA food trucks.
The Book Festival is always a good time for everyone. We hope you’ll make room on your calendar for your first visit or for your 12th (or somewhere in between). The energy that YOU bring makes all the difference!
In our parallel trajectory, many Ohioans have been the recipients of the Oscar, including Clark Gable, George Chakiris, Eileen Heckart, and Paul Newman. Halle Berry made history in 2002 as the first (and thus far only) African American winner of the Best Actress award. Composer Henry Mancini is our state’s all-time winner at the Oscars, receiving four statuettes for his music, including the Best Song of 1961, “Moon River,” one of the classics of the American popular songbook.
An Oscar winner whose name you might not be as familiar with is author and screenwriter Donald Ogden Stewart. Stewart was born in Columbus on November 30, 1894 (just twelve days before and two miles away from other future celebrated writer – James Thurber). After graduating from Yale and serving in the Navy in World War I, Stewart settled in New York and began to write. His quick wit soon led him to becoming a member of the Algonquin Round Table, the celebrated literary circle that also included Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and Ernest Hemingway.
Stewart turned to writing plays, and success on Broadway led him eventually to Hollywood. Among his notable screenplays in the 1930s were The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Marie Antoinette, Holiday, and the 1939 classic, Love Affair (remade in 1957 as An Affair to Remember).
In 1940, M-G-M hired Stewart to adapt Phillip Barry’s play The Philadelphia Story for George Cukor’s film version starring Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart (who was no relation). The film was a critical and popular smash, and earned six Oscar nominations, including the two Stewarts, both of whom won – James Stewart for Best Actor and Donald Ogden Stewart for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The host at that year’s awards ceremony was comedian Bob Hope (another Ohioan, from Cleveland). Hope would later recall it as “one of those bathos-drenched evenings where winners thanked everyone from their producer, director, and co-stars down to the ‘little people’ – by which I assumed they meant pygmies, dwarves, and elves.” Then Donald Ogden Stewart’s name was called.
Walking to the podium and taking the Oscar in his hand, Stewart said, “There’s been so much niceness here tonight that I’m proud to say I’m totally responsible for the success of The Philadelphia Story. Nobody lifted a damn finger to help me.”
The audience broke up in laughter and gave Stewart a huge ovation. Hope would remember it as one of the favorite moments of his record-breaking nineteen times as the awards host.
Stewart continued writing screenplays throughout the 1940s, working with top-flight directors such as Cukor and Michael Curtiz, and stars such as Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, William Powell, and Lana Turner. Then came the second “Red Scare” of the early 1950s. Stewart, who had been actively involved in the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League during World War II, admitted that at one time he had belonged to the Communist Party. Blacklisted by Hollywood studios, Stewart and his wife moved in 1951 to England, where he remained until his death in 1980 at the age of 85.
While not as well remembered today as some of his contemporaries, many of the films for which Stewart wrote his sparking screenplays continue to entertain. As his biography on the Internet Movie Database states, Stewart was “noted for his satirical observations of American high society, best exemplified by The Philadelphia Story.”
So as this movie-laden holiday season takes us into a new year, and as Hollywood prepares for the 90th anniversary Oscar ceremony on March 4 – Ohioana raises its glass to Donald Ogden Stewart.
If you look up the word “pathos” in the dictionary, you’ll find The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.
Not really. But we consider that an oversight to be corrected.
Some people consider the story comic, what with the twist and all: the married couple each giving up something cherished in an attempt to give one another a significant and meaningful gift — only to wind up weirdly missing the mark.
How is that funny? It’s not. It makes you cry. They’re poor as church mice and at the end of it all, what do they have to show one another? Bupkis. Except for the love between them, of course.
One of Columbus’ most famous temporary residents was the author of that story. O. Henry, the best-known pen-name of short story William Sydney Porter, spent three years in the Ohio Penitentiary on a charge of embezzlement. He’d been on the run and hiding in Honduras, but when he learned his wife was dying of consumption (tuberculosis), he came back to the United States and faced a jury. Some of his stories were even published while he was jailed. The Gift of the Magi wasn’t one of those, but it is unarguable the most famous story written by this popular and prolific writer.
Porter died young, and we’re not sure if ever came back to Ohio after leaving the penitentiary in Columbus. Some folks say that his pen name came from his time behind those walls: “O. H.” from Ohio, and then “enry” from “penitentiary.” We think that’s a bit of s stretch but we’ll also take it.
If the story makes you cry or makes you smile, it is truly about the spirit of giving and really giving until it hurts. May the spirit of the season grow large and bright within you.