June 2016


9780812995435By Wayne Maines, whose family is the focus of Becoming Nicole (Random House Trade Paperbacks, June 2016) by Amy Ellis Nutt.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak at Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine. Before the lecture I spent an hour walking around their beautiful campus, thinking about how to frame my discussion about equality, harassment and my family without getting too emotional. I was concerned that breaking into tears might distract from my message, which acknowledges that we have indeed come far these past five years, but further stresses that there is still a great deal of work to be done.

I am the proud father of identical twins: one is a boy and one is a girl. My beautiful daughter Nicole is transgender. This talk was important to me, a chance to meet with senior staff, middle management and students and have a conversation about transgender rights in schools. (more…)

Winners Random House Writing 2016The Penguin Random House Creative Writing Awards, which annually present $112,000 in scholarships to fifty-six New York City public high school seniors for original poetry, fiction & drama, memoir, graphic novel, and spoken word poetry compositions, were held on June 7. Since 1994, more than two million dollars have been awarded to students and their schools by Random House, and now Penguin Random House, through this awards competition. In this twenty-third year for the competition, more than 1,300 entries were received from a number of diverse public high schools throughout the city’s five boroughs. (more…)

9780807083260Historical fiction as a genre is powerful in its ability both to educate and to provide insight into the voices and experiences of those who came before us. Ruthanne Lum McCunn’s novel Thousand Pieces of Gold (Beacon Press) does just that, tracing the tribulations of Polly Bemis, a nineteenth-century Chinese woman who is sold into slavery and prostitution in America and who struggles against all odds to claim her independence. In McCunn’s adaptation of this true story, Polly’s father refers to his daughter as his treasure, his “thousand pieces of gold,” and his decision to sell her reveals the desperation brought on by intersecting historical forces in China at that time. What follows is an exploration of the value and dignity of human life as Polly perseveres and pioneers across the American frontier. (more…)