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5 Best 2012 Debuts By Brooklyn Novelists (So Far)
1. The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker
Sold at auction for even more than The Art of Fielding, with even greater crossover-highbrow appeal: tween girl comes of age in dystopia!
2. The Festival of Earthly Delights, by Matt Dojny
An epistolary novel describing the rituals of an imaginary Southeast Asian nation, and the adventures of a young American living through them.
3. Flatscreen, by Adam Wilson
A smart, wittily digressive account of a young man’s hometown blues, hiding unforeseen depths.
4. Forgotten Country, by Catherine Chung An intimate melodrama, about a family adrift from one another in a new country.
5. The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac, by Kris D’Agostino In Washington Irving country, a family snapshot freighted with very contemporary concerns, like new media, postcollegiate drift, and recession-era blues.
Best Brooklyn-Set YA Novel
Liar & Spy
Rebecca Stead’s follow-up to the Newbery-winning When You Reach Me might not be as stellar as its predecessor, but it’s set in Brooklyn! And full of what we assume are little in-jokes, like how the pizza place is called DeMarco’s, which IRL is the name of the guy who makes the pizzas at DiFara’s.
Best Local History
The Last Bohemia
Mixing reportage and personal history, Robert Anasi charts the recent history of Williamsburg’s Northside from the point of view of a writer who moved there in the 90s. Not too politically fraught (gentrification is a serious and sensitive issue!), the book is instead full of vivid stories about Kokie’s, The L Cafe, Polish heroin addicts, circus performers, and much more.
Best Indie Publisher
Akashic Books has been consistently putting forth high-quality, well-reviewed books for over a decade, with work ranging from the political to the noir-ish to the irreverent. They are directly responsible for last year’s wild hit Go the Fuck to Sleep, which means they are indirectly responsible for that recording of Werner Herzog reading it, which was awesome. When a small company like Akashic can maintain integrity in an industry that panders to teenage girls obsessed with vampires and middle-aged women who want to be spanked, it should be appreciated and celebrated.
Best Pulitzer Winner
Tracy K. Smith
The Brooklyn Community Foundation recently reported that half of the 2011 Pulitzer winners live in Brooklyn. (We find that impossible to believe.) Our favorite was Boerum Hill’s Smith, who won the poetry prize for her book Life on Mars.
If there were a national team for literacy, Emma Straub would be the captain. With spot-on recommendations and all-out book-joy, she brings buoyancy to BookCourt. Her own first novel, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, launches in September.
Best New Lit Mag
One Teen Story
We love One Story, a magazine that mails out a single short story every three weeks. But we’re especially excited about its soon-to-launch sister One Teen Story, which is roughly the same thing but for YA fiction. And it only publishes during the school year! How cute!
Best Local Blog
Here’s Park Slope
Editor Dan Myers tracks local businesses doggedly—and we mean doggedly: every opening, closing, renovation, relocation, or change of signage gets reported, from O’Connor’s to Bar 718. But it’s not just a list of which restaurants are up and which are down; it’s complemented by historical context, interviews with bartenders, and other forms of reportage that together create a fully formed portrait of a neighborhood through its storefronts.
Best Feminist Collective
The n+1 Research Collective
Imaginatively recovering discarded elements of past feminist movements, the n+1 Research Group publishes pamphlets, organizes film screenings, and mediates consciousness-raising discussions. As politicians across the country are trying to legislate women into a kind of reproductive gulag, the Research Collective reminds us of the aggression and joy necessary for revolt.
Most Necessary Internet Service
Platform for Pedagogy
The anti-Flavorpill, Platform for Pedagogy is a weekly e-mail newsletter compiling “public lectures, symposia and related cultural events” in NYC. It’s often the only place to hear about wildly underpublicized talks by major intellectuals, and most of PFP’s listings cost an enticing $0.