Thursday, July 17, 2003

Does J.K. Rowling deserve the Nobel Prize for Literature?

James T. Downey, owner of Legacy Art & BookWorks thinks she does. He has started a campaign to alert the Nobel committee of this need.

J.K. Rowling isn't just telling children's stories. She knows full well the power of myth, and is reaching deep into our collective psyche to illuminate fundamental truths about the human condition. Her work isn't popular because of marketing; it is popular because it resonates within each of us. I'll leave the literary analysis to the academics. But I will say that the impact that Ms. Rowling has single-handedly had on the promotion of literacy, of engaging children (and adults) with books again, is without equal since the Nobel Prize was first awarded. If this isn't a "benefit to mankind", as expressed in Alfred Nobel's will establishing the Nobel Foundation, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

The NY Times published a nice obituary of Joan Lowery Nixon.

Joan Lowery Nixon, a prolific, award-winning author of mysteries for children and young adults, died on Saturday in Houston. She was 76 and lived in Houston.

The cause was complications of pancreatic cancer, The Houston Chronicle reported.

Mrs. Nixon wrote more than 140 books, some published in more than a score of languages. She won four Edgar Allan Poe Awards, known as Edgars, from the Mystery Writers of America, of which she was a past president. She was also nominated for Edgars five other times.

Her books that won Edgar Awards (all in the juvenile or young adult category) were "The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore" (1979), "The Seance" (1980), "The Other Side of Dark" (1986) and "The Name of the Game Was Murder (1993).

By the early 1990's most of her books were mysteries for young adults, although she was writing books for children of all ages. A recent book, "Gus and Gertie and the Missing Pearl" (2001), for children 6 to 9, was praised in The New York Times Book Review as "an easy-to-read comic adventure with a large cast of characters." Mrs. Nixon also wrote historical novels for young readers, including her "Orphan Train" and "Ellis Island" series.

Mrs. Nixon was known for putting strong girls as characters in her books for young adults. "My girls are all self-sufficient," she said in an interview in 1997. "They may be scared to death," she added, but they "make their own decisions and do them. Some may get good grades, some don't. But they're still smart."

A native of Los Angeles, Joan Lowery grew up in Hollywood and received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Southern California.