It’s a funny time in the publishing industry. We hear that print books are a “dying” medium, but at the same time, more authors are self-publishing than ever. Some bookstores may be in trouble, but people still by plenty of books — just online. We can easily bring the equivalent of dozens of books with us on a small electronic device, but some of us will never give up the feel of holding a real book.

During this era of change and flux, what impresses us about authors, about their works? For one thing, beautiful writing is always beautiful writing. The language may change over time, but the quality of creating art with the written word is perhaps the only constant. For another, creating art in this way is always more impressive without the backing, staff and resources of a large publishing house.

The PEN Oakland 23rd Annual Book Awards recognize just that kind of ingenuity, literary entrepreneurship and quality creative work that remain impressive. Writers simply recognize other writers’ excellence, independently of corporate backing. Free and open to the public, they will be held this Saturday, December 7, from 2 – 5 p.m. at the Rockridge Branch of the Oakland Public Library, 5366 College Avenue. The Awards will be followed by a reception and book signings.

Notes PEN Oakland, “The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions. The award winners range from well-known and established writers to under-recognized authors and first works.”

The 2013 PEN Oakland Literary Award Winners Are:

  • Andrew Lam, Birds of Paradise Lost: Thirteen Stories of the Vietnamese Diaspora (fiction), Red Hen Press
  • Luis J. Rodriguez (author), Denise M. Sandoval (editor), Rushing Waters, Rising Dreams: How the Arts Are Transforming a Community, (anthology: non-fiction, poetry, art), Tia Chucha
  • Lucille Lang Day, Married At Fourteen, (memoir), Heyday Books
  • Toni Morrison, Home, (fiction), Vintage International
  • Tim Seibles, Fast Animal, (poetry) Etruscan Press
  • Christopher Wagstaff (Editor). A Poet’s Mind: Collected Interviews with Robert Duncan, 1960-1985 (interviews), North Atlantic Books
  • Recipient of the Reginald Lockett Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award is Jesse Douglas Taylor, for his gadfly writings exposing the hypocrisies and errors of Bay Area politicians.
  • Recipient of the Censorship Award is Chris Hedges, who has been dubbed the conscience of journalism for his resistance to the platitudes and distortions of corporate journalism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.