The winners of the first NYC Literary Honors represent the best our city has to offer, and, in turn, they have offered us some of the most original, inspiring, engaging descriptions of New York City ever written.
Paul Auster - Fiction
Paul Auster is the bestselling, award-winning author of 16 novels, including Sunset Park, Invisible, Man in the Dark, The Brooklyn Follies, The Book of Illusions, and The New York Trilogy. His work has been translated into more than 41 languages. Paul Auster has written the screenplays for Smoke (for which he won the Independent Spirit Award for best screenplay and the Silver Bear from the Berlin Film Festival), Blue in the Face, and Lulu on the Bridge (an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival), which he also directed; these three screenplays are collected in Three Films. He also wrote and directed The Inner Life of Martin Frost, which premiered at the opening of New York’s New Directors/New Films Festival in March 2007. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“...Riding the subway at a busy time of day–morning rush hour, evening rush hour–and having the good luck to find a seat. Counting the number of newspapers not written in English, scanning the titles of books and watching people read (the mystery of it, the impossibility of entering another person’s mind), listening in on conversations, sneaking a look at the baseball scores over someone’s shoulder. The thin men with their briefcases, the voluminous women with their Bibles and devotional pamphlets, the high school kids…”
Learn more at Auster’s official Facebook page
Robert Caro – Non-Fiction
For his biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson, Robert A. Caro has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, twice won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Best Nonfiction Book of the Year, and has also won virtually every other major literary honor, including the National Book Award, the Gold Medal in Biography from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Francis Parkman Prize, awarded by the Society of American Historians to the book that best “exemplifies the union of the historian and the artist.” In 2010, he received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama. Caro’s first book, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, everywhere acclaimed as a modern classic, was chosen by the Modern Library as one of the hundred greatest nonfiction books of the twentieth century. It is, according to David Halberstam, “Surely the greatest book ever written about a city.” And The New York Times Book Review said: “In the future, the scholar who writes the history of American cities in the twentieth century will doubtless begin with this extraordinary effort.”
“...Out from the heart of New York, reaching beyond the limits of the city into its vast suburbs and thereby shaping them as well as the city, stretch long ribbons of concrete, closed, unlike the expressways, to trucks and all the commercial traffic, and, unlike the expressways, bordered by lawns and trees. These are the parkways. There are 416 miles of them. Robert Moses built every mile. Still within the city limits, stretching northward toward Westchester County, he built the Mosholu Parkway and the Hutchinson River Parkway. In Westchester, he built the Saw Mill River Parkway, the Sprain Brook Parkway …”
– The Power Broker
Learn more at Caro’s official website
Roz Chast – Humor
Roz Chast was born in Brooklyn, New York. She began contributing to The New Yorker in 1978. Since then, she has contributed over 1,000 cartoons and several covers to the magazine.
In addition to The New Yorker, her cartoons have been published in many other magazines, including Scientific American and The Harvard Business Review. She has also illustrated several children’s books.
Pigeon Little ©Roz Chast/The New Yorker Collection/cartoonbank.com
Learn more at Chast’s official website
Walter Dean Myers – Children’s Literature
Walter Dean Myers is the New York Times bestselling author of MONSTER, the winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award, and the current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Myers has received every single major award in the field of children’s literature. He is the author of two Newbery Honor books and five Coretta Scott King Awardees. He is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults, a three-time National Book Award Finalist, as well as the first-ever recipient of the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. One of the preeminent writers for young people, he has also conducted workshops with thousands of children across the country. Walter Dean Myers was raised by foster parents in Harlem, New York.
“Like clumsy children we fell
As we learned to run
Stumbled as we invented our own truths
We were America, but we were also
Thousands of souls smothering beneath the hatches
A chorus of chaos filling the air at Wounded Knee
The shocked stillness at Chapultepec Castle
Ambition betrayed us
Power was too strong a temptation
And yet, and yet…
We could hold up our sins for the world to see...”
– We Are America
Learn more at Myers’s official website
Marie Ponsot - Poetry
Marie Ponsot’s recent books include The Bird Catcher, winner of the National Book Critics Circle award; Springing, New and Selected Poems; and Easy. Professor Emerita of Queens College, CUNY, she now teaches at the New School University and the YMHA Poetry Center. Her awards include the Poetry Society of America’s Frost medal for lifetime achievement. She is an elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. With colleague Rosemary Deen, they wrote Beat Not the Poor Desk. This revolutionary text for effective writing teaching won the Shaughnessy Medal for the Modern Language Association. Ponsot went to school, to the then glorious public schools, until she went to St. Joseph’s College and then to Columbia for a Master of Arts (MA) degree. She still enjoys teaching. And, of course, she keeps her devotion to poetry, which has enhanced her life and continues to write.
“The green vine is moving.
The motion’s too slow to be
visible but it is racing,
racing feeling for a way
across the wall of fence
it’s scrawling on, inches added every day.
Forwarding, sunwarding, it claims
its place. Green states its claim. It writes
the lesson of the day: Longing,
longing coming true while arcing
out and up according to the instruction
of desire. Sun-hungry its tip has tilted
toward sun-space. Already
it is speeding leaf-notes out of its root...”
– “Late Spring As Usual”
Learn more at the Poetry Foundation
Robert Silvers – Literary Life
Robert Silvers is an American editor who has served as editor of The New York Review of Books since 1963. Robert was co-editor of the Review with Barbara Epstein for over 40 years until her death in June 2006 and has been the sole editor of the magazine since then. He also serves on the editorial committee of La Rivista dei Libri, the Italian language edition of the Review. Silvers has also edited or co-edited several essay anthologies and is in charge of the Review’s book publishing arm, New York Review Books.
Learn more at The New York Review of Books
Angelica Modabber is a senior at the NYC iSchool, a New York City public school in Manhattan. In addition to winning national writing awards through Scholastic, she has co-written articles for the Daily News, broadcasted videos for the PBS website, and voiced the opinions of public high schools students through her segment on the Gotham Schools blog and as founder and editor of her school newspaper. This fall, she will be attending Barnard College.