Did you embrace ‘Harry Potter’ midnight madness? We want your photos

Family hand out photo of Claudine Lucena, center, dressed as a character from "Harry Potter" with unidentified friends who are also dressed as students from the book and movie series, "Harry Potter." CREDIT: Courtesy of Claudine Lucena. Received 11/15/10 for 1116pottercollege.
Claudine Lucena, center, dressed as a character from “Harry Potter” with unidentified friends who are also dressed as students from the book and movie series, “Harry Potter.” 

Have you ever waited in a theater for hours for the newest Harry Potter film to debut? Did you and your friends attend midnight book releases as a gaggle of Gryffindors? Were you there when they opened the gates to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? We want to see those photos!

While we wait for the release of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” on Sunday, we want to relive the magical moments from previous midnight countdowns. Send your costumed or crazed Harry Potter fandom photos to readerphotos@statesman.com, and we’ll gather the best ones for a gallery of witchcraft and wizardry.

Feeling nostalgic now? Dust off your wand and get to BookPeople on Saturday night at 10 p.m. for their midnight book release party.

Rounding up the literary awards

Ta-Nehisi Coates is national correspondent for The Atlantic. He is also the author of The Beautiful Struggle.</


The major literary awards are coming up, and we decided to put together a guide to who’s likely to be nominated, where things stand and what’s ahead. Such lists also provide a decent reading guide for anyone trying to figure out what to read next.

First of all, the National Book Awards have already been announced, and they’re a fairly good indicator of what lies ahead.

For fiction, Adam Johnson was named the winner for “Fortune Smiles.” Ta-Nahisi Coates won the nonfiction award for “Between the World and Me,” while Robin Coste Lewis won the poetry prize for “Voyage of the Sable Venus.” In young people’s literature, the winner was Neal Shusterman for “Challenger Deep.”

The finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, which is determined by book review editors and critics, were announced Jan. 18. These categories are slightly different from the National Book Awards, but here are the finalists, with winners to be announced March 17.

Nonfiction: Mary Beard, “SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome”; Ari Berman, “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America”; Jill Leovy, “Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America”; Sam Quinones, “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic”; and Brian Seibert, “What the Eye Hears: A History of Tap Dancing.”

Autobiography: Elizabeth Alexander, “The Light of the World”; Vivian Gornick, “The Odd Woman and the City”; George Hodgman, “Bettyville”; Margo Jefferson, “Negroland”; Helen Macdonald, “H Is for Hawk.”

Biography: Terry Alford, “Fortune’s Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth”; Charlotte Gordon, “Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecarft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley”; T.J. Stiles, “Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America”; Rosemary Sullivan, “Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva”; Karin Wieland and Shelly Frisch, “Dietrich and Riefenstahl: Hollywood, Berlin, and a Century in Two Lives.”

Criticism: Ta-Nahisi Coates, “Between the World and Me”; Leo Damrosch, “Eternity’s Sunrise: The Imaginative World of William Blake”; Maggie Nelson, “The Argonauts”; Colm Toibin, “On Elizabeth Bishop”; James Wood, “The Nearest Thing to Life.”

Poetry: Ross Gay, “Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude”; Terrance Hayes, “How to Be Drawn”; Ada Limon, “Bright Dead Things”; Sinead Morrissey, “Parallax: And Selectged Poems”; Frank Stanford, “What About This” Collected Poems of Frank Stanford.”

The shortlist for the PEN Literary Awards was announced in early February, and winners will be named March 1 for biography, literary sports writing, poetry in translation and PEN translation prize. On April 11, winners will be announced for debut fiction, essay, Open Book and literary science writing.

Here are the finalists:

Fiction: “In the Country: Stories,” Mia Alvar; “The Turner House,” Angela Flournoy; “Mr. And Mrs. Doctor,” Julie Iromuanya; “The Sympathizer,” Viet Thanh Nguyen; “Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness,” by Jennifer Tseng.

Essay: “After the Tall Timber: Collected Nonfiction,” Renata Adler; “Between the World and Me,” Ta-Nehisi Coates; “The Quarry,” Susan Howe; “The Givenness of Things: Essays,” Marilynne Robinson; “Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles,” David L. Ulin.

Literary science writing: “Rain: A Natural and Cultural History,” Cynthia Barnett; “The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World,” Joel K. Bourne Jr.; “The Boy Who Played With Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star,” Tom Clynes; “Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future,” Lauren Redniss; “Island on Fire: The Extraordinary Story of a Forgotten Volcano That Changed the World,” Alexandra Witze and Jeff Kanipe.

Literary sports writing: “Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson,” Kent Babb; “The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway’s Ghost in the Last Days of Castro’s Cuba,” Brin-Jonathan Butler; “The Secret Game: A Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Basketball’s Lost Triumph,” Scott Ellsworth; “Molina: The Story of the Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty,” Bengie Molina with Joan Ryan; “The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season,” Barry Svrulga.

Open Book Award: “Chord,” Rick Barot; “Bastards of the Reagan Era,” Reginald Dwayne Betts; “Forest Primeval: Poems,” Vievee Francis; “Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey,” Marie Mutsuki Mockett; “Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape,” Lauret Savoy.

Biography: “The Bronte Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects,” Deborah Lutz; “Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art,” Nancy Princenthal; “John le Carre: The Biography,” Adam Sisman; “Michelle Obama: A Life,” Peter Slevin; “Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva,” Rosemary Sullivan.

Poetry in translation: “The School of Solitude: Collected Poems,” Luise Hernandez, translated by Anthony Geist; The Late Poems of Wang An-shih,” translated by David Hinton; “Rilke Shake,” by Angelica Freitas, translated by Hilary Kaplan; “I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkosky,” translated by Philip Metres and Dimitri Psurtsev; “The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa,” translated by Sawako Nakayasu.

PEN Translation Prize: “The Complete Stories,” Clarice Lispector, translated by Katrina Dodson; “The Blizzard,” Vladmir Sorokin, translated by Jamey Gambrell; “Crime and Punishment,” Fyodor Dostoyesky, translated by Oliver Ready; “The Physics of Sorrow,” Georgi Gospodinov, translated by Angela Rodel; “Hollow Heart,” Viola Di Grado, translated by Antony Shugaar.

The Pulitzer Prizes will be announced in April. And various websites and critics expect the following to be in contention for the fiction award: “Fortune Smiles,” by Adam Johnson; “Fates and Furies,” by Lauren Groff; “A Little Life,” by Hanya Yanagihara, who won the Kirkus Prize in October; “The Sympathizer,” by Viet Thanh Nguyen; and “A Manual for Cleaning Women,” by Lucia Berlin.

The Texas Institute of Letters is expected to announce its finalists in March, with awards being presented in April. The big prize, of course, is the Lon Tinkle Award, which honors a career in letters. Last year, the award went to Lawrence Wright.

In late January, Valentin Sandoval’s “South Sun Rises” received the Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association. His novel, which deals with ethnic identity, is set in the Chihuahua desert along the El Paso Juarez border.

Julie Wernersbach named new Texas Book Festival literary director

Newly-minted TBF literary director Julie Wernersbach

Former BookPeople marketing director Julie Wernersbach has been hired as the new director of the Texas Book Festival.

She replaces Steph Opitz, who left earlier this year.

Wernersbach will be responsible for creating and implementing the festival itself and the TBF’s year-round literary programming.

In her five years at BookPeople, Wernersbach produced events featuring Elvis Costello, Jimmy Carter, Jonathan Franzen, Isabelle Allende, Stephen King, Donna Tartt, Lena Dunham, and others.

Wernersbach was previously publicist and events coordinator for the independent bookstore Book Revue in Huntington, NY. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Boston University and serves on the board of directors of the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association.

The 21st Texas Book Festival takes place Nov. 5-6, 2016. Book submissions are open until June 1.



Former Defense chief Gates to give lecture at LBJ Library


Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will give the third annual Tom Johnson lecture at 6 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium at the LBJ Library.

Gates, author of “Duty,” has recently published another book, “A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform From Fifty Years of Public Service.” He served as secretary of defense under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

He was also president of Texas A&M University from 2002 to 2006 and is serving as the chancellor of the College of William & Mary.

Before the event, Gates will participate in a book signing of “A Passion for Leadership” (Knopf, $27.95). Book sales begin at 4:45 p.m. in the upper auditorium lobby, and he’ll be signing from 5 to 5:45 p.m. Proceeds benefit the LBJ Presidential Library.

The event is free and open to the public. The library will have 125 tickets for the public available starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

In “A Passion for Leadership,” Gates makes the case that government bureaucracies can be reformed, and he offers routes to such reforms.

He has led change at the CIA, Texas A&M and the Department of Defense, and he offers an insider’s look at how major bureaus, organizations and companies can be transformed.

Free parking is available in the LBJ Library visitors’ lot (Lot #38), and after 4 p.m. in Lots 37 and 39. The LBJ Auditorium is located on the lower level of the LBJ complex at 2313 Red River St. You may access the auditorium through the lobby of the LBJ School of Public Affairs or through the south auditorium doors by the LBJ Fountain.

A chat with Harrigan



I sat down recently to talk with Austin author Stephen Harrigan about his upcoming book, “A Friend of Mr. Lincoln,” and the story about his new book is scheduled to be published Jan. 31.

But as usual, everything he said won’t make the article, which focuses mainly on Harrigan’s research of the young Abraham Lincoln as a circuit rider and politician in Springfield in his early days.

So here’s a tidbit from Harrigan on weaving Mary Todd, Lincoln’s wife, into his historical fiction:

“She was really fun to write,” Harrigan said. “You know, certain characters are a struggle for you, but certain characters, when you’re writing, you think, ‘Oh, I know that person.’ And Mary fell into that category where I felt she was someone I’d met and known. And she’s really interesting to put on the page.

As many people know, history hasn’t been particularly kind to Lincoln’s wife and partner. And Harrigan acknowledges that “she was a difficult person.”

“But she was also vivacious and fiercely intelligent. Had she lived in a different time, she’d be accepted. … She’s a woman who is frustrated by history. The only way into a political life for her is to marry some aspiring politician. She was every bit as ambitious as Lincoln was, and much more polished.”


A&M celebrating Shakespeare, too



Texas A&M is hosting an exhibit featuring Shakespeare’s First Folio from March 8 to April 3. “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare” is part of a national exhibit, sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association.

The exhibit will be part of a series of events, including lectures and workshops and theatrical events.

The events coincide with the celebration of 400 years of Shakespeare.

The University of Texas is holding quite a large exhibit and celebration of Shakespeare as well. For details on the Austin exhibit, read Jeanne Claire van Ryzin’s story here.


Newbery goes to ‘Last Stop’


Matt de la Pena won the Newbery Medal for the best children’s book of 2015, “Last Stop on Market Street.”

De la Pena, a  California native who lives in Brooklyn, is a frequent visitor to such Austin locales as the Writing Barn and the Texas Book Festival.

The book deals with race and class and is illustrated by Christian Robinson. It was also a finalist for the Caldecott Medal, which was award to “Finding Winnie,” written by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. It’s about the writings of A.A. Milne, author of “Winnie the Pooh.”

Both awards were announced Monday by the American Library Association, which is meeting in Boston this week.


The Newbery and Caldecott awards are among the most cherished in children’s literature. They were announced Monday by the American Library Association, which has gathered in Boston for its annual midwinter meeting.

Lifetime achievement awards were given to illustrator Jerry Pinckney and novelist David Levithan.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of “Between the World and Me,” was among 10 winners of the Alex prize for adult books that appeal to teens.

Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Award for the best book by an African-American writer. Williams-Garcia was cited for “Gone Crazy in Alabama,” the third of a trilogy about the Gaither sisters.

Laura Ruby’s “Bone Gap” won the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults.

The Belpre award for best Latino/Latina book was given to “Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir,” written by Margarita Engle. Rafael Lopez won the Belpre illustrator prize for “The Drum Dream Girl,” written by Margarita Engle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

MLA says ‘huh?’ to Texas government’s Spanish

The Modern Language Association, which is holding its annual convention in Austin through Sunday, is not amused by the Texas government’s use of the Spanish language.

Excerpts from the Texas Penal Code, dealing with the carrying of weapons, are posted at various sites inside the convention hall, and the MLA’s “Convention Daily” had a headline Friday saying: “Spanish Errors in Texas Penal Code.”

The text of the correction from the MLA, which includes lots of Spanish scholars, says: “Attendees may have noticed the large signs in the convention center giving excerpts from the Texas penal code in English and Spanish. The Spanish wording contains several errors of spelling and grammar: for example, ‘licensia’ instead of ‘licencia,’ ‘no pueden’ instead of ‘no puede.’ We encourage those of you with expertise in Spanish to report the errors. … The MLA will write to the Texas government recommending corrections.”

While they’re at it, the language scholars might want to take issue with another sign in the convention center, this one dealing with the Spanish translation of a “Severe Weather Shelter Area.” In Spanish, it says, “Area de refugio en condiciones atmosféras rigurosas” — not a graceful translation, since it basically says “area of refuge for rigorous atmospheric conditions.” And “atmosféras” should be atmósferas.”

Blanton hosting literary event Saturday


dyc elizabeth mccracken
Austin author Elizabeth McCracken.

The Blanton Museum of Art on the University of Texas campus will be hosting a daylong literary event on Saturday in cooperation with Poets & Writers Magazine, with readings, lectures and workshops.

Austin author Elizabeth McCracken (“Thunderstruck”) will deliver the keynote speech at 10 a.m., after an 8 a.m. check-in.

Other speakers and panelists include Ben Fountain (“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”), poet Naomi Shihab Nye; Benjamin Percy (“The Dead Lands”); Saeed Jones (“Prelude to Bruise”), Matthew Gavin Frank (“The Mad Feast”), Edward Carey (the Iremonger trilogy), Karan Mahajan (“The Association of Small Bombs”), Alex Lemon (“The Wish Book”), Carrie Fountain “(“Instant Winner”), Kirk Lynn (“Rules for Werewolves”), Owen Egerton (“How Best to Avoid Dying”), Susan Schorn (“Smile at Strangers”) and Ebony Stewart (“Love Letters to Balled Fists”).

All of this will be occurring while the Modern Language Association is holding its convention downtown, so it’ll be a literary festival of sorts.

Seating at the Blanton event is limited. If you’re interested in attending, you can register here. The cost is $125.

The Blanton is at 200 East Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.


Friday events at MLA convention


Author Colm Toibin

1. Members of the Modern Language Assocation plan a protest march downtown around 1:45 p.m. Friday, starting at the JW Marriott, going up Congress Avenue and ending at the steps of the Capitol. They’ll be protesting Texas legislation that will allow guns on university campuses.

2. About 7,500 people will be attend events at the Austin Convention Center and the Marriott through Sunday.

3. Several events are open to the public, and $10 day passes will allow you to meet the exhibitors, which include university presses and representatives of study-abroad programs.

4. Friday’s big event that’s open to the public will be Colm Tóibín, author of “Nora Webster” and On Elizabeth Bishop,” in an interview with Stephen Burt of Harvard University. 1:45 p.m., Room 16A, Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez St.

5. Details about the convention and updates can be found online at http://www.mla.org/Convention and at austin360.com.