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The 16,000-word letter written by Neal Cassady, which helped inspire Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.”
The 16,000-word letter written by Neal Cassady, which helped inspire Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” Reuters

A rambling 1950 letter from Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac that helped inspire “On the Road” will be auctioned next month by Christie’s in New York, apparently bringing to an end an 18-month legal battle over its ownership.

The 16,000-word typed letter, which carries an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000, had been considered lost before it surfaced in the discarded files of Golden Goose Press, a now-defunct small San Francisco publisher, and listed for sale by a Southern California auction house in 2014. That auction was suspended after the Kerouac estate and Cassady’s children said they were the owners.

Jami Cassady, a spokeswoman for the family, told The San Francisco Chronicle this week that the three parties had reached “an amicable settlement.” She also said the family, which owns the copyright on the letter, intended to publish it at some point.

The missive, known as the Joan Anderson letter, after a woman with whom Cassady described an amorous relationship, had been known only from a fragment, apparently retyped by Kerouac, that was published in 1964. In an interview in 1968, Kerouac said he had got the idea of the “spontaneous style” of “On the Road” from “seeing how good old Neal Cassady wrote his letters to me, all first person, fast, mad, confessional, completely serious, all detailed, with real names in his case, however (being letters).”

“It was the greatest piece of writing I ever saw, better’n anybody in America, or at least enough to make Melville, Twain, Dreiser, Wolfe, I dunno who, spin in their graves,” Kerouac said.

After receiving the letter Kerouac lent it to Allen Ginsberg, who passed it along to another poet, who was living on a houseboat, who “lost the letter, overboard, I presume,” Kerouac said. Instead, it was sent to the offices of Golden Goose for possible publication, but went unnoticed for decades, according to Christie’s.

The letter will be on public view starting on May 31 in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and then New York, where the sale will be held on June 16.

Juan Felipe Herrera will serve a second term as the United States poet laureate, the Library of Congress announced. The post, which comes with few set responsibilities, is the country’s highest honor in poetry.

In his first year Mr. Herrera, the author of more than 30 books and the first Hispanic to serve in the position, created “La Casa de Colores,” an online project consisting of two parts. One, “La Familia,” asks members of the public to contribute lines to a collective epic poem, while “El Jardin” chronicles Mr. Herrera’s explorations of the library’s collections and features his short “poem responses” to items like an Abraham Lincoln campaign poster and the 16th-century Huexotzinco Codex.

Mr. Herrera, 67, follows other laureates who have served more than one year, including Natasha Trethewey, Kay Ryan, Ted Kooser and Billy Collins. Details about his next projects will be announced over the summer.

Chris Jackson
Chris Jackson Shaniqwa Jarvis for The New York Times

The editor Chris Jackson, whose work with the author Ta-Nehisi Coates, the civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson and the hip-hop star Jay Z, among others, has made him a rare public star in the world of book publishing, has been named the vice president, publisher and editor-in-chief of the One World imprint of Random House.

Since 2006, Mr. Jackson has been an executive editor at Spiegel & Grau, an imprint at Random House founded that same year by Cindy Spiegel and Julie Grau. Before that, he had been an editor at Crown, also part of the Random House family.

One World, which has a multicultural focus, began in 1991, publishing a mix of fiction and nonfiction, including the paperback reprint of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” Mr. Jackson will be charged with revitalizing the imprint, with an official restart in fall 2017.

In a profile of Mr. Jackson in The New York Times Magazine in February, Vinson Cunningham wrote: “To the extent that 21st-century literary audiences have been introduced to the realities and absurdities born of the phenomenon of race in America, Jackson has done a disproportionate amount of that introducing.”

Martha Graham, in 1990.
Martha Graham, in 1990. Jim Wilson/The New York Times

So-called marathon readings of famous — and famously long — books like “Moby-Dick” and “Ulysses” have become familiar occurrences in the literary world. Now the dance world is getting in on the act.

On April 18, the Martha Graham Dance Company will stage a six-and-a-half hour reading of Graham’s 1991 autobiography, “Blood Memory.” The event will take place at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, at Lincoln Center, starting at 11 a.m. The lineup of readers includes the dancer-choreographers Carmen de Lavallade and Michelle Dorrance; Virginia Johnson, the artistic director of the Dance Theater of Harlem; the choreographer Sonya Tayeh, now most widely known for her work on the television show “So You Think You Can Dance”; Wendy Whelan, the longtime principal dancer with New York City Ballet; and Tiler Peck, currently a principal dancer with the company. The reading commemorates the 90th anniversary (to the day) of Graham’s first public performance with a group of dancers.

Graham dictated “Blood Memory” in the months before her death, at 96, in 1991. On the cover of The New York Times Book Review, the dance critic Francis Mason called the memoir “a masterly, buoyant legacy of her life and her art,” adding that “like herself, the book speaks with a lilting sibylline voice to explain not only the hold dance had on her and what she gave it back, but also to tell us about the love of her life and about years of suffering as well as years of glory.”

Meg Rosoff
Meg Rosoff David Levenson/Getty Images

LONDON — The author Meg Rosoff has won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, a children’s book award that comes with a prize of 5 million Swedish krona, or about $613,000.

Ms. Rosoff, an American young adult author based in England, won for her wide-ranging oeuvre, which includes coming-of-age stories like “Picture Me Gone” and “How I Live Now.” “How I Live Now,” a dystopian thriller about a girl whose brush with first love in the British countryside is interrupted by the outbreak of a world war, was adapted into a 2013 movie starring Saoirse Ronan. Ms. Rosoff’s “Jonathan Unleashed,” about a man’s relationship with his dogs, was published this year in some countries; it is her first novel geared toward adults.

The citation issued by the prize jury honored Ms. Rosoff for books that “speak to the emotions as well as the intellect,” adding that “she writes about the search for meaning and identity in a peculiar and bizarre world. Her brave and humorous stories are one-of-a-kind. She leaves no reader unmoved.”

The award is named for the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, who created the Pippi Longstocking series. She died in 2002 and the award has been given every year since 2003. Ms. Rosoff will accept the prize at a ceremony in Stockholm on May 30.

A short transcript of the phone call in which Ms. Rosoff learned that she had won the prize was released on the award’s website.  “Oh

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my god, that’s amazing,” she said, adding, “I have to sit down; I can’t believe that.”

James Hannaham has won the 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his second novel, “Delicious Foods.” The book tells the story of Darlene — a woman forced into slave labor in Louisiana by the company of the book’s title — and her son, Eddie.

In The New York Times Book Review, Ted Genoways wrotethat Mr. Hannaham’s book shows the clear influence of “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” and “The Grapes of Wrath” in telling a story that explores “the thorny nexus of systemic racism and the personal destruction that often hounds the hopeless.”

Mr. Hannaham’s honor comes with $15,000. The four other finalists, who each receive $5,000, are Julie Iromuanya for “Mr. and Mrs. Doctor”; Viet Thanh Nguyen for “The Sympathizer”; Elizabeth Tallent for “Mendocino Fire”; and Luis Alberto Urrea for “The Water Museum.”

The cover of the comic “Faith.”
The cover of the comic “Faith.” Valiant Entertainment

Diversity has come to the comic-book universe. There are now super-heroes who are Muslim, Hispanic, gay, lesbian and more. But all those characters still have something in common: athletic, even godlike bodies. Not so Faith Herbert, a plus-size heroine, who will be getting her own monthly series beginning in July, published by Valiant Comics.

The new series, written by Jody Houser and drawn by Pere Pérez and Marguerite Sauvage, came about after a limited series, which began in January and ends this month, proved very popular. “So many people have come up at conventions and told me how much the book means to them,” Ms. Houser said. Faith, who in her civilian life is steeped in nerd culture, has especially resonated with female fans who enjoy seeing “a character who is a geek like them and isn’t being treated as a joke.”

Sarah Winifred Searle, a cartoonist, produced a visual essay about her appreciation of the character: “It was like looking at myself if I starred in a superhero comic. I had never experienced that before.” She added, “Outside matron archetypes and joke characters, visibly fat women had no place in media I had access to.” Last year, Bulimia.com published a series of comic book covers that showed their heroes with more realistic body types.

Faith, whose code name is Zephyr, was introduced in 1992 and had adventures for three years, before Valiant ceased publication of all its series. The company re-emerged in 2012 with Faith as one of its core heroes in “Harbinger.” The new series will introduce Faith’s first arch-nemesis and explore her romantic life. A collected edition of the limited series will be released in July.

The character will also make it to the big screen as part of a slate of films from Sony Pictures featuring Valiant characters. The first, “Bloodshot,” is scheduled for release next year.

The winners of the 2016 Whiting Awards were announced on Wednesday night at the New-York Historical Society, with each of the 10 chosen writers receiving a cash award of $50,000. The awards are given for “early-career achievement and the promise of superior literary work to come,” according to the Whiting Foundation.

Two writers, Brian Blanchfield and J. D. Daniels, were honored in the category of nonfiction. Mr. Blanchfield, the author of two previous collections of poetry, will publish a book of elliptical essays titled “Proxies” in April. The essays have titles like “On Withdrawal,” “On Tumbleweed” and “On House Sitting.” Mr. Daniels, whose essays have appeared in The Paris Review and n+1, among other places, will publish his first collection of them, “The Correspondence,” this year.

Three fiction writers also received Whiting Awards on Wednesday. Catherine Lacey’s first novel, “Nobody Is Ever Missing,” was published in 2014. In The New York Times, Dwight Garner called it a “searching, emotionally resonant” novel “about a young woman who pulls the pin on her own life, fleeing the country rather than staying behind to witness the collateral damage.” Ms. Lacey has a second novel and a story collection forthcoming. Mitchell S. Jackson’s first novel, “The Residue Years,” published in 2013, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award for first fiction, among other awards. Alice Sola Kim’s work has appeared in Tin House, McSweeney’s and elsewhere, and she’s at work on a collection of short stories.

The foundation also honored four poets and one playwright this year. The poets are LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, Layli Long Soldier, Safiya Sinclair and Ocean Vuong. The playwright, Madeleine George, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2014 for “The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence.”

All 10 writers will read at a free public event at BookCourt in Brooklyn on Thursday at 7 p.m.

A book on the 1787 Constitutional Convention and two books on the way encounters with Native Americans shaped the emerging American nation have won the Bancroft Prize, considered one of the most prestigious honors in the field of American history.

Mary Sarah Bilder, a professor at Boston College Law School, won for “Madison’s Hand: Revisiting the Constitutional Convention” (Harvard University Press), which uses both digital technology and traditional textual analysis to study how James Madison continuously revised his influential notes on the event, thus sharply challenging their claim to be an objective contemporaneous account.

Deborah A. Rosen, a professor at Lafayette College, was cited for “Border Law: The First Seminole War and American Nationhood” (Harvard University Press), which describes how that conflict, which lasted from 1816 to 1818, laid the legal groundwork for the Monroe Doctrine, westward expansion and the Dred Scott decision of 1857.

Andrew Lipman, an assistant professor at Barnard College, won for “The Saltwater Frontier: Indians and the Contest for the American Coast” (Yale University Press), which draws on English, Dutch and archaeological sources to examine how the waters between the Hudson River and Cape Cod were both a battleground and a place of exchange from the 16th through the mid-18th centuries.

The Bancroft Prize, established in 1948 by the trustees of Columbia University with a bequest from the historian Frederic Bancroft, includes an award of $10,000.

Stephen Greenblatt
Stephen Greenblatt Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Stephen Greenblatt, the Harvard literary scholar best known for his studies of Shakespeare, has won Norway’s 4.5-million kroner (about $531,000) Holberg Prize, which is awarded annually to scholars who have made outstanding contributions to research in the arts, humanities, the social sciences, law or theology.

In the announcement the awards committee cited Mr. Greenblatt’s “distinctive and defining role in the field of literature and his influential voice in the humanities over four decades.” Mr. Greenblatt is widely seen as the founder of the school of literary studies known as New Historicism, which seeks to understand works of art through study of their historical context, and in turn to use works of art to understand broader intellectual history.

Mr. Greenblatt’s more than a dozen books include the best-selling biography “Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare,” and “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern,” a study of the 15th-century rediscovery of the ancient Roman poet Lucretius, which won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. He is also the general editor of “The Norton Shakespeare” and “The Norton Anthology of English Literature.”

In a statement Mr. Greenblatt described his lifelong goal as “opening literary studies to the historical, cultural and, in the broadest sense, anthropological energies that course through great works of art.” He is currently working on a book about the story of Adam and Eve.


Category: Review

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