Coinciding with Women's History Month, the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment and BuzzFeed News celebrate a slate of women authors for country's biggest book club.
2500 copies of the nominated books will be available in libraries throughout the five boroughs. Voting starts April 1.
NEW YORK – Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment Acting Commissioner Anne del Castillo today announced the five finalists for this year's One Book, One New York campaign, the country's largest reading program designed to bring New Yorkers together to read the same book at the same time. Now in its third year, and in partnership with BuzzFeed Book Club, this year's program features five acclaimed titles all written by women.
The five nominated books by authors who call NYC home are:
Beginning on April 1st and continuing all throughout the month of April, New Yorkers will cast their votes at nyc.gov/onebook to determine the one book the whole city will read together.
"We're thrilled to offer books by such a diverse group of women authors for New Yorkers to read, discuss with each other, and vote on this year," said Media and Entertainment Acting Commissioner Anne del Castillo. "Reflecting a variety of ethnicities, ages and life experiences, these books explore the complexities of family, the American identity and coming of age."
Seeking stories written by NYC-based women authors, the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment and the BuzzFeed News's book and culture editors consulted with literary leaders at the New York Public Library and Brooklyn's new Center for Fiction for suggestions on which books to include in this year's One Book, One New York. Eventually, the list was whittled down to five titles.
"We're thrilled to highlight these books, whose authors so masterfully explore the breadth of American culture and identity," said BuzzFeed Books Editor Arianna Rebolini. "These stories showcase a diversity of experience that is inherent to New York and one of the best things about this city. They are generous, enlightening, and deeply felt — and have made me cry while reading on the train, which, to me, is really the hallmark of being a New York reader."
The publishers of the five nominated books have provided copies to each of New York City's library branches in all five boroughs (2500 copies in all); the books will also be available for sale at bookstores throughout the city.
Each of the five authors has a deep connection to New York City:
"My first morning in NYC, I took the subway to the Schomburg Center where James Baldwin's personal letters and notes were on display for the first time; and my first year living here, I walked up the beautiful steps of Brooklyn Public Library on Grand Army Plaza to spend hours editing A Place For Us," said Fatima Farheen Mirza. "It quickly became a second home, and it was there, in the children's section, that I finished the final draft. I work with middle school and undergraduate students in Brooklyn and Manhattan, which is a weekly reminder that though there is such diversity of experience, it is through stories that we recognize ourselves in another, and expand our empathy and understanding for each other."
"I just write about what I know and care very deeply about," said Nicholasa Mohr. "I think that the more specific you are in your work, the more universal you become. If I can appreciate a story by Sholem Aleichem about someone in an eastern European village, someone else can certainly appreciate a story about a Puerto Rican child. So I just write about the human drama, the human struggle of an ongoing life to the best of my knowledge. I write about Puerto Ricans, because that is what I am."
"When I came to New York City in 1967 I was looking for a job, hopefully in a bookstore," said Patti Smith. "At that time, there was an abundance of bookstores--classic, rare, second-hand, specializing in everything from magic, art, flying saucers to small press poetry. I was grateful to get work in an environment dedicated to books. One of my customers was a lanky boy with a mass of dark curly hair. It was 1967, the summer of love, and Robert Mapplethorpe and I lived the first pages of our own storybook."
"While I'm beyond thrilled to be among such amazing writers, I'm even more excited that the Bushwick of the 1970s - yet another New York neighborhood that no longer exists as it once did, has made it to this list," said Jacqueline Woodson. "This honor feels like a nod to a particular place in time. I'm so grateful to those who chose Another Brooklyn and in doing so are saying to the old neighborhood: We see you. We know you, Dear Bushwick, there was a time before now."
"When I was seven years old, I immigrated to Queens with my mother, father and two sisters," said Min Jin Lee. "I learned how to read and write from the borrowed books of the Elmhurst Public Library, and I am the product of P.S. 102, J.H.S. 73, and the Bronx High School of Science. On weekends and summers, I worked behind the counter at my parents' store in Manhattan's Koreatown. The boroughs of this great city gave me my words and my dreams, and I am so very honored that Free Food for Millionaires is a finalist for One Book, One New York."
On Tuesday, April 23rd at 6:30 p.m., authors Fatima Farheen Mirza, Patti Smith, Jacqueline Woodson, Min Jin Lee and David Mohr, the son of Nicholasa Mohr, will be featured as part of the special event panel discussion at the Celeste Bartos Forum at the NYPL on Fifth Avenue. The event is free and open to the public on a first come, first served basis. Click here to register.
"One Book, One New York is a truly wonderful complement to the very mission of New York City's libraries -- bringing together people from all walks of life in an effort to learn from each other and create a more aware and informed society," said New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx. "Better still, it is evident New Yorkers appreciate the opportunity to read books about our great city; the winner of last year's One Book, One New York -- Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan -- was the top checkout of 2018 at The New York Public Library."
After the month-long voting period, the winning book will be announced on May 3rd, and a special event celebrating the winning author will take place on Friday May 10 @ 7:30 p.m. at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side of Manhattan as part of the Pen America World Voices Festival. The winning author will be interviewed by BuzzFeed Books Editor, Arianna Rebolini.
"Symphony Space has a long history of celebrating literature, championing authors, and inviting readers to engage deeply with the power of words," said Symphony Space Executive Director, Kathy Landau. "In keeping with our mission of making the arts accessible for all, we are particularly thrilled that our doors will be open to everyone for this spectacular free event. It is an absolute honor to partner with One Book, One New York and MOME to bring our community together in a shared exchange of ideas and experiences inspired by a great work of literature."
"Hundreds of writers and thousands of readers will descend on New York City this May to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the PEN World Voices Festival," said PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel. "We are thrilled to join forces with the city for One Book One New York as a flagship event during our weeklong program of conversations, performances and debates involving today's most original and provocative writers and artists from all over the world the world."
To find out more and register for the One Book, One New York winning author event, visit PEN America here after the winning book has been announced.
The Mayor's Office of Media is also pleased to announce an exciting new feature of this year's One Book program. For the first time, the winning book will be also be the monthlong focus of the national BuzzFeed Book Club in July, where enthusiastic book lovers across the country can join New Yorkers to sign up and discuss the winning book together via Facebook on the BuzzFeed News website with BuzzFeed's Books editor and the winning author.
In September, One Book, One New York will culminate with an event featuring the winning author at the new Center for Fiction in Brooklyn at 15 Lafayette Ave.
"The One Book, One New York initiative captures the essence of our literary non-profit's 200-year-old mission: to promote empathy through reading, especially of writers whose voices or perspectives differ from your own," said Noreen Tomassi, Executive Director of The Center for Fiction. "We are so pleased to join in this city-wide celebration of reading by hosting the winning author at our new Brooklyn space in September!"
One Book, One New York is intended not only to encourage a sense of community among New Yorkers, but also to support the City's book publishing and bookselling industries. In recent years, both the publishing and bookselling industries have faced significant challenges. There are currently 55 independent bookstores and 8 Barnes and Noble bookstores in NYC. The One Book, One New York campaign recognizes how vital bookstores are in NYC neighborhoods, as they often serve as a meeting place for residents to come together and exchange ideas.
"All these books have been championed by booksellers in New York City, and we are thrilled to share them with readers as part of #OneBookNY this year," said Eileen Dengler, Executive Director of The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association.
"Barnes & Noble is excited to highlight this year's One Book, One New York selections in its New York bookstores to engage and inspire readers across the city," said Liz Harwell, Senior Director of Merchandising, Trade Books at Barnes & Noble. "Whether reading the break out debut A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza, or Patti Smith's National Book Award-winning memoir, Just Kids, New Yorkers have an amazing group of women writers to choose from, discuss, and vote on from this year's selections."
"We are thrilled to partner once again with the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment on this outstanding campaign to bring together a citywide community of readers," said Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. "Although today's libraries are about much more than books, helping our customers find a great read will always be at the heart of our mission to transform people's lives. We couldn't be more excited about this year's titles, as all are written by extraordinary women from culturally diverse backgrounds who call New York City home."
"We are so proud and excited to work with One Book, One New York to bring to light the power of books and reading," said Brooklyn Public Library's chief librarian Nick Higgins. "We can't wait to share these titles with our communities and to come together as New Yorkers to read and celebrate these poignant books."
"I have long believed that reading is a gift, and there is no better gift than one that New Yorkers can participate in together," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "The tradition of One Book, One New York continues to allow New Yorkers of all backgrounds to share in the experience of reading wonderful novels—this year all authored by women—and I encourage all to participate."
"Women have struggled to gain recognition for their art for far too long. Literature is an important vehicle in expanding one's horizons and reading work from a diverse set of authors is the best way to learn about new points of view. I applaud the city's choice of titles for this year’s One Book, One New York program and congratulate the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment for their continued commitment to expanding access to the arts across the five boroughs," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.