Thursday, May 10, 2007

Prizes and Kudos

Columbia University announced its J. Anthony Lukas prizes this week, and the book-in-progress award goes to the tale of a white mob that attacked and killed more than 100 members of a black sharecroppers union in Arkansas in 1919.

Robert Whitaker will get $30, 000 to complete his book, which will be published by Crown. He’s the author of The Mapmaker’s Wife and Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill. He has also won the George Polk Award and an award from the National Science Foundation for previous work.

Lawrence Wright won the $10,000 J. Anthony Lukas prize for The Looming Tower: Al Queda and the Road to 9/11. (I have got to read this book, it has won so many prizes.)

James T. Campbell won the $10,000 Mark Lynton History Prize for Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005.

Alice Schroeder, the author of an upcoming biography of Warren Buffett, had never written a book before she sold the proposal. Her advance? $7 million. The publisher, Bantam Dell, is obviously banking on the immense popularity of Buffet. It should be a good read because Buffett opened the files of Berkshire Hathaway to Schroeder and instructed his friends and family to talk to her.

“While Schroeder knew insurance and business, she had to learn the craft of writing - setting a scene, recording dialogue, capturing the story of Warren Buffett on paper,” according to an article in the Omaha World-Herald.

"Warren deserves a story that is told in a way that will really bring to life his uniqueness and how much larger than life he really is," she said. "I tried to use his own words as much as possible. I want the reader to feel they've had a long conversation with him."

The writing also was challenging because the book, largely chronological, will have excerpts of Buffett's letters and other writings.

"He's a masterful writer," Schroeder said, with an engaging, conversational style. "Writing alongside Warren Buffett's quotes was an immense challenge. If the book succeeds, people shouldn't feel jarred when they go from his words to mine."

It’s almost Memorial Day and while many people cook hotdogs and hamburgers to celebrate the coming of summer, Susan Ito remembers her father. He died seven years ago around now and she has written a lovely essay about him at Literary Mama.

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