Palestinian Fiction, National Book Awards, and Armenians to Istanbul

Marash Embroidery

Marash Embroidery


My article “That Country Beyond Our Reach: Palestinian Fiction Since 1967” is available for free download to the first 50 “colleagues” who click on this link. It is part of a special Palestine issue (edited by my friend Rachel Holmes) of the U.K. literary journal Wasifiri.

I wanted to share a few edifying links about book publishing from the National Book Awards Benefit Dinner in New York City on November 19. I was not there, but the proceedings attracted a great deal of media and social media attention because of a practically sublime speech from one writer and a shocking and appalling joke by another. Ursula K. LeGuin, who accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award, gave a beautiful and inspiring speech. You can read the transcript here and watch the video here. There is much to love in what she said, but this was my favorite paragraph:

Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) made a racist watermelon joke after Jacqueline Woodson was handed the National Book Award in the young adult category for her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming. Handler issued an apology via Twitter and, to his credit, donated money to the We Need Diverse Books campaign. Woodson penned an op-ed for the New York Times entitled, “The Pain of the Watermelon Joke.”

In terms of things Armenian, lavash bread was added to UNESCO’s list of “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.” Fethiye Cetin, Turkish human rights attorney and author of the memoir My Grandmother, was interviewed by Pinar Tremblay on AL Monitor: Turkish Woman’s Search Gives Voice to Islamized Armenians. And System of A Down announced they would be commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide with a “Wake Up The Souls Tour.” I’m continuing my work with Project 2015 to organize a mass fly in of Armenians to Istanbul for April 24, 2015. When the web site launches I will let you know, but for now you can LIKE the Facebook page or follow on Twitter.

And because I’m supposed to be pushing the paperback of ALL THE LIGHT THERE WAS, let me remind you that books make great holiday gifts. I will be happy to autograph and inscribe copies!


Nancy Kricorian