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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, April 23

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Book Club

Awards Wed Nov 26 2014

Chicago Literary Hall of Fame to Induct Six Authors

GB-LitHOFposter.jpg Six Chicago literary figures will be inducted into the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame Saturday, Dec. 6, at Roosevelt University's Ganz Hall.

The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame honors and preserves Chicago's great literary heritage through educational programming, awards, exhibits and other special events. One of its current projects is creating a repository of detailed information about Chicago's past, present and future literary life, through such projects as the Chicago Literary Map, the Chicago Book of the Day, and the Chicago Literary Calendar.

This year's Literary Hall of Fame inductees are three poets, a legendary editor, a novelist and an author of iconic childen's books.

Continue reading this entry »

Nancy Bishop

Awards Wed Sep 24 2014

Right This Way to "Women & Children First Way"

Talk about bragging rights: in a move that celebrates Women & Children First's reputation as a city institution, the bookstore is getting its own street in Chicago. 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman announced on Tuesday that the block at Clark St and Farragut Ave will bear the honorary name, "Women & Children First Way," as a tribute to the "iconic indie bookstore's impact as a community builder and neighborhood anchor."

This latest bit of good news comes on the heels of a change in ownership and talk of expansion in July. Founders Linda Bubon and Ann Christophersen sold W&CF to store manager Sarah Hollenbeck and her colleague, Lynn Mooney. Hollenbeck and Mooney bring years of writing and publishing experience to their leadership of Chicago's preeminent feminist bookstore.

The unveiling is scheduled for October 11th, and the celebration calls for poetry and performances by Yvonne Zipter and W&CF bookseller Shanta Nurullah. The event is free and open to the public. You'll also have a chance to meet Hollenbeck and Mooney in their store, where they'll share public drawings and a floorplan for the store renovation, set to begin in winter 2015.

Danette Chavez

Bookmarks Fri May 23 2014


Tonight! Author James Fearnley discusses his book, Here Comes Everybody at the Book Cellar, 7 pm.

Saturday! JaQuavis discusses his new book Whitehouse at CPL's West Englewood Branch, 2 pm.

Saturday! Take your self-started project to the next level with The Propeller Fund, an organization dedicated to stimulating creative growth in Chicago. Attend a workshop at Mana Contemporary Chicago to learn how to apply, 2233 S. Throop St., 1 pm to 6 pm.

Saturday! David Grubbs reads from his book Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording, featuring musician John Corbett, at Corbett vs. Dempsey, 3 pm.

Sunday! Mike O'Flaherty reads from his new novel Where do You Run? at 57th Street Books, 3 pm.

Miden Wood

Events Thu Jan 30 2014

The Best 90 Seconds You'll Ever Spend

Screen shot 2014-01-31 at 8.39.58 AM.pngImagine a short film, a minute and a half long, wherein little kids reenact their favorite children’s books. Now imagine watching a multitude of these shorts, back-to-back-to-back. Kind of triggers your ‘awww’ reflex doesn’t it?

Well such a festival isn’t hypothetical; it exists. It’s called the 90-Second Newbery Festival, and through it founder and The Order of Odd-Fish author James Kennedy challenges children to re-create Newbery-award-winning books within strict time constraints. The festival, which is only now entering its third year, has been a massive success, drawing in hundreds of submissions from around the world, all of which James watches and posts on his blog.

Screen shot 2014-01-31 at 8.21.01 AM.png

Even from its initial inception the concept was a hit. After losing the Newbery to Neil Gaiman in 2009, Kennedy was “embittered”. “I really wanted to win the Newbery. I really felt, in my heart of hearts, that I really deserved it [Author’s sarcasm].” After staging a fake battle with a friend dressed as Gaiman—including a series of physical challenges and ending with Kennedy’s own sacrifice at the altar of Newbery—Gaiman took notice, and took to social media about the whole spectacle. Then, when Kennedy posted the first Newbery adaptation, a 90-second A Wrinkle in Time, the concept exploded in popularity— and Neil Gaiman re-tweeting the video didn’t hurt.

After sitting down with Kennedy to discuss the upcoming festival on February 1st, it became apparent that this event is not just in it for the awww’s. “When you adapt a piece of literature, you take ownership of it,” he says of the 90-second challenge. By encouraging kids to not only read Newbery award winning books carefully, but also to pick and choose key narrative moments, they will inevitably develop opinions about that literature.

Continue reading this entry »

Miden Wood / Comments (1)

Awards Wed Jan 15 2014

Third Annual 2013 Book of the Year Awards @ The Book Cellar

The Chicago Writers Association presents its third annual Book of the Year Awards on Saturday January 18, 7pm, at The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave.

The annual award chooses selections in the categories of traditional and non-traditional fiction and non-fiction. The winning books of 2013 are Susan Nussbaum's Good Kings Bad Kings, Jay C. Rehak's 30 Days to Empathy, Bree Housley's We Hope You Like This Song, and David W. Berner's Any Road Will Take You There. All winning authors will read selections from their books. The event will be emceed by Tori Collins, President of Chicago Writers Association.

The event is free and open to the public. Authors will sign copies of their winning books, which will be sold at the event.

John Wawrzaszek

Book Club Mon Dec 16 2013

Chicago Writers Association 3rd Annual Book of the Year Awards


The Chicago Writers Association has announced the winners of its 3rd Annual Book of the Year Awards. Categories included Traditional Fiction; Non-Traditional Fiction; Traditional Non-Fiction; and Non-Traditional Non-Fiction.

Continue reading this entry »

Kathryn Pulkrabek

Awards Wed Aug 14 2013

2013 Prizes Announced for Contributions to Poetry Magazine

poetry.jpgIt's a good day for poets and poetry lovers: The prizes for 2013 contributions to Poetry have just been announced, with eight awards going to poets, critics, essayists, and photographers featured in the magazine during the past 12 months. Founded in Chicago in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world.

The Levinson Prize went to Joshua Mehigan for his poems The Professor, The Cement Plant, and Down in the Valley in the October 2012 issue and The Orange Bottle in the February 2013 issue.

The Bess Hokin prize was awarded to Laura Kasischke for her poems Ativan, Game, The Second Death, and You've Come Back to Me in the October 2012 issue.

The Frederick Bock prize was given to Anna Maria Hong for her poems Pluralisms and A Fable in the April 2013 issue.

Randall Mann received the J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood prize for his poems Nothing, Order, and Proprietary in the April 2013 issue.

Miller Oberman's translation of Old English Rune Poem by Anonymous in the July/August 2013 issue won her the John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize for Translation.

The Friends of Literature Prize was awarded to Idra Novey for her poems in the November 2012 issue, The Visitor, La Prima Victoria, and Of the Divine as Absence and Single Letter.

The Editors Prize for Feature Article was bequeathed to Eliza Griswold and Seamus Murphy for their contributions to the June 2013 issue, Landays.

And Michael Robbins received the Editors Prize for Reviewing for his review of Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology in the July/August 2013 issue.

Poetry logo courtesy of

Eden Robins

Author Tue Jul 30 2013

Susan Hahn Named Ernest Hemingway Foundation's First Writer-In-Residence

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for susan hahn.jpg
The Ernest Hemingway Foundation named Winnetka poet and author Susan Hahn their first writer-in-residence. Along with bragging rights, the organization's writer-in-residence is granted use of the attic at 339 N. Oak Park Ave. for an entire year. The space, in what used to be Ernest Hemingway's childhood home, has been converted into a writer's office. Hahn is also expected to provide lectures, workshops, and other cultural programs in association with the Foundation.

A Northwestern alumna, Hahn worked at the university's TriQuarterly journal for 30 years. She's written numerous poetry collections including Incontinence, Holiday, and The Scarlet Ibis; a play titled Golf; and the novel The Six Granddaughters of Cecil Slaughter, which was published by Fifth Star Press in Chicago. She is the recipient of several awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship and two Pushcart Prizes.

Photo by Jennifer Girard

Ines Bellina

Awards Tue Jul 23 2013

Three to Watch: Chicago Writers Named 2013 Lambda Literary Writers Retreat Fellows

What up-and-coming queer writer wouldn't want to spend a week with the likes of Sarah Schulman, David Groff, Samuel Delany and Malinda Lo? At this summer's Lambda Literary Foundation Writers Retreat in LA, a batch of LGBT talent that includes three current Chicagoans will get to do just that. Lambda Literary calls the competitive fellowship "the only residency in the world specifically for promising LGBT writers." Here's a quick look at the local attendees--you'll likely catch them reading their work around town in the months to come.

  • A Renaissance man of sorts, LeVan D. Hawkins uses his experience in theater and spoken-word to turn even more standard literary readings into engaging demonstrations of the storyteller's art. Taking inspiration from figures such as Bayard Rustin and James Baldwin, his works touch on family, masculinity and race.

  • Coming from a background that includes health-care work and an MFA in Bilingual Creative Writing, Blake Nemec writes poetry that sometimes sets the worldly, chatty vibe of Frank O'Hara bobbing through meditations on queer identity. His work has recently appeared in the anthology Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex and in the Rio Grande Review [PDF].

  • As her official Facebook page puts it, SJ Sindu "focuses on traditionally silenced voices--the immigrant, the poor, the queer, the female-bodied, the non-Christian, the non-white." As she earns her Ph.D. in English at UIC, she'll also be completing a novel about a married-for-convenience lesbian in Sri Lanka. Her creative nonfiction (and works that blur genre lines even further) has appeared in journals including The MacGuffin.

Daphne Sidor

Awards Tue Jul 23 2013

Chicago Connection, Notable Winners of 2013 Eisner Awards

eisner25.jpgThe San Diego Comic-Con International celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards this weekend. The annual awards showcase achievements in the comic industry. Winners were announced at a gala ceremony this past Friday, July 19. Chicago was well represented in the list of notable winners.

Chris Ware won Best Graphic Album New, Best Writer/Artist, Best Lettering and Best Publication Design for his massive work Building Stories. Jeffrey Brown took home Best Humor Publication for his book Darth Vader and Son.

And for their work in the community, local comic book shop Challengers Comics + Conversation took home a Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award.

Congrats to our local winners on all your hard work.

John Wawrzaszek

Awards Mon Oct 15 2012

Nami Mun Receives 21st Century Award

To be nominated for an award in your field, is always an honor. For novelist Nami Mun to be named the recipient of this year's 21st Century Award, given to emerging Chicago authors, is more than simply an honor; it's a recognition that solidifies her place in our city's storied literary legacy with the likes of Wright, Bellow, and Algren. The Chicago Public Library Foundation presents this award annually, with past recipients including Patrick Somerville in 2009 (This Bright River) and Audrey Niffenegger in 2004 (Her Fearful Symmetry).

Mun, a Korean American who grew up in the Bronx borough of New York City, is known for her short stories, and those she skillfully weaved into her debut novel, Miles from Nowhere. She keeps busy as a full-time faculty member in Columbia College Chicago's Fiction Writing department, volunteering for National Runaway Switchboard, and writing meticulous and powerful short stories (such as The Anniversary in Granta issue 114).

Despite her busy schedule, Mun was available to answer some questions capturing her reaction to being selected to receive this prestigious honor.

What was your first reaction when you found out you were chose to receive this award?

Stunned. I had to clean my apartment for a long while just to process the information.

The 21st Century award honors a Chicago author of significant achievement. Knowing you to be hard working and dedicated to your writing, how does it feel to receive such an award?

In many ways I feel this award is more a validating statement about Chicago than about me. During a time when the humanities are under attack, the people of Chicago and the Chicago Public Library Foundation are saying, through this award, that humanities matter. That literature matters. That understanding the poles of human experience matters. I am extremely honored and feel happy for myself, but this election year makes me realize that an award is rarely solely for the individual receiving it.

At this point in your career, does being chosen to receive this award feel as a sort of validation?

Yes and no. Recently a teacher who teaches writing to the men at the San Bruno County Jail in California wrote to tell me how much her class appreciated my novel. She said, "As you can imagine, they don't much like anything, especially anything that they are presented with at the jail." That my writing touched these men--incarcerated, possibly jaded, possibly angry at society or with themselves--absolutely affected me, told me that I was on the right track. Awards are humbling and wonderful in that they validate my work to others. But finding out that a reader has connected with my work--that lights a firecracker in my chest.

The Chicago Public Library Foundation and the Chicago Public Library will present Mun this award Wednesday October 17 at Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner.

John Wawrzaszek

Events Mon Jan 16 2012

First Ever Book Of The Year Awards

This past Saturday, The Book Cellar hosted the Chicago Writers Association's first ever Book of the Year Awards. Winners of the award were Krista August for Giants in the Park: A Guide to Portrait Statues in Chicago's Lincoln Park.


Krista August

Pamela Ferdinand, Carey Goldberg, and Beth Jones won for their novel Three Wishes: A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on our Way to Love and Motherhood.


Pamela Ferdinand

James Finn Garner won for his novel Honk, Honk, My Darling: A Rex Koko, Private Clown Mystery.


James Finn Garner

Christine Sneed won for her novel Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry.


Christine Sneed

The ceremony started with a speech from the president of the Chicago Writer's Association, Randy Richardson. The awards were then presented and each author read an excerpt from their novel. Afterwards, the authors signed their books for their fans.

Julie Zarlenga

Awards Tue Jul 26 2011

Clowes Wins Eisner Award

Daniel Clowes's Wilson was co-winner of the 2011 Eisner Award in the Best Graphic Album --New category. Interested in a sample of the work? A free PDF can be found here. [via]

Veronica Bond

Awards Tue May 17 2011

Ebert Honored with Carl Sandburg Literary Award

This year the Chicago Public Library Foundation will award Roger Ebert the Carl Sandburg Literary Award. The Sun-Times reports that their columnist was a "unanimous choice" from the foundation's selection comittee. Ebert will be honored at a gala on October 20 on the UIC campus, where the foundaton's 25th anniversary, the Harold Washington Library Center's 20th anniversary, and the One Book, One Chicago program's 10th anniversary will all be celebrated.

Veronica Bond

Awards Tue Apr 19 2011

Egan wins Pulitzer Prize

goon squad.jpgNot only has Jennifer Egan won the Tournament of Books and the National Book Critics Circle Award, it was announced on Monday that she has also won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for A Visit from the Goon Squad. Congratulations to the author on her accumulating accolades...I think it's time I add this one to the to-be-read pile.

Veronica Bond

Awards Wed Apr 13 2011

Who Says Poetry Doesn't Pay?

David Ferry has been awarded the Poetry Foundation's 2011 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, which means $100,000 in his pocket...

Emily Wong

Events Tue Mar 08 2011

Luis Alberto Urrea Receives Distinguished Professorship

On March 10, author and UIC professor, Luis Alberto Urrea, will be presented with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences distinguished professorship. At this time, Urrea will also give a presentation entitled, "Awakening to the World: From Tijuana to Here." Urrea is a UIC professor of English who teaches creative writing. He was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and has won awards for his writing, including the Lannan Literary Award and the Kiriyama Prize in fiction. Urrea's presentation will begin at 3pm in Student Center East, Room 302. Admission is free!

Emily Wong

Awards Sun Nov 14 2010

Shephard Wins Tribune Literary Prize

Upon receiving the the Chicago Tribune Literary Prize (part of the Chicago Humanities Festival) yesterday, native author and playwright Sam Shepard took the opportunity to reflect on his life, work, and stories.

Rose Lannin

Awards Fri Sep 03 2010

Peace Through Words

Three Chicago authors have been named as 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalists in the nonfiction category: Dave Eggers, for Zeitoun; and Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman for Enough: Why the Worlds Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty. The award is, according to the website, "the first and only annual U.S. literary award recognizing the power of the written word to promote peace." Started in 2006, it has recognized Chicago writers in the past: the inaugural Dayton Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Studs Terkel.

Ruthie Kott

Awards Sun May 16 2010

Midwest Authors Shine

Since 1915, the Society of Midland Authors has presented awards for literary excellence writers and poets residing in the Midwestern Heartland. This week, they named their choices for the best books published by Midwest authors in 2009.

Rose Lannin

Awards Thu Nov 05 2009

Obama Honors Young Chicago Authors

young chicago authors.JPGThe Young Chicago Authors program will soon travel to Washington, D.C. to receive the 2009 Coming Up Taller Award, to be bestowed on them by Michelle Obama. The Coming Up Taller Award is a project of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities that recognizes and supports after-school and extra-curricular arts and humanities programs for children, honoring "programs that offer exceptional learning experiences in the arts and the humanities and that have a tangible effect on the lives of young people as evidenced through improved academic scores, enhanced life skills, and positive relationships with peers and adults." As written in their mission statement, YCA "encourages self-expression and literacy through creative writing, performance and publication," with programs geared toward ages 13-19 that feature, among other things, poetry slams, a female-oriented webzine called "GirlSpeak" and the opportunity to be published in their own print magazine "Say What." Says Dr. Robert Boone, founder of YCA, in a press release, "Young Chicago Authors is deeply honored to accept this award on behalf of all of the young people and teachers who have made creative writing a living part of Chicago." Congratulations to everyone who has put their time and hard work into the program--the award is undoubtedly well-deserved.

Veronica Bond

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Book Club is the literary section of Gapers Block, covering Chicago's authors, poets and literary events. More...

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