MLA Platinum Award Press Release

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"Women Who Survived" from Classical Mythology
In Starling Days, Mina mulls over an idea for an academic work that she dubs 'The Women Who Survived.' Her starting point is a list of female characters in classical mythology who survive the stories in which they appear. She observes that most women in Greek and Roman myths are ultimately killed or transformed in some way, and that few ...
100 Years of Korean Immigration
In 2008 there were more than 1.3 million people of Korean ancestry living in the United States, making Koreans the fourth largest group of Asian Americans, after Asian Indians, Chinese and Filipinos. As of 2000, roughly one-third of Korean Americans had been born in the United States, one-third are U.S. citizens born in Korea, and one-...
1970s Hangouts in New York City
Among other things, Hustvedt's novel Memories of the Future is a vivid portrait of what it was like to live in New York City as a young woman in the late 1970s. She writes evocatively about many of her character's favorite haunts, which include several establishments that are still operating today. Interested in a glimpse into 'Minnesota'...
A Brief History of Auschwitz
Auschwitz was the name the Germans used for the Polish city of Oswiecim when they occupied it in WWII. The concentration camp was established nearby in June 1940, taking the name of the nearby town. The camp quickly expanded into three main parts: Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, and Auschwitz III-Monowitz - a group of about 40 sub-...
A Brief History of Cienfuegos, Cuba
The Black Cathedral by Marcial Gala is set in a run-down neighborhood known as Punta Gotica in the real Cuban city of Cienfuegos, where an architecturally unique cathedral is planned for the Church of the Holy Sacrament. This may be all the more significant considering that Cienfuegos is known for its own particular brand of architecture ...
A Brief History of North Korea
Korea's earliest known history begins around the 4th century B.C. Korea developed into several regions based around walled communities that acted somewhat like states. China controlled some southern parts of Korea, but in the 7th century A.D., one of the states, Silla, was able to drive China out of Korea's borders. As a result, Korea was...
A Brief History of the Amish
The Amish are direct descendants of the Anabaptists of 16th century Europe who rejected infant baptism and believed in the separation of church and state (which were entirely conjoined at the time). They became known as Mennonites after the Dutch Anabaptist leader Menno Simons (1496-1561). In the late 17th century there was a schism over ...
A Brief History of the U.S. Virgin Islands
Land of Love and Drowning opens in the early 1900s when the Virgin Islands were still under the control of Denmark. European powers, namely France, Denmark, and England, had taken an interest in the Virgin Islands since the early 1600s. Denmark settled St. John and St. Thomas by the mid-1600s, and purchased St. Croix from the French in ...
A Brief History of Uganda
Kintu is set in Uganda, a landlocked country in central Africa bordered by South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and The Democratic Republic of Congo. It is home to approximately 39 million individuals (2015).

click for bigger image

Human activity in the region that is now Uganda dates back at least 50,000 years as evidenced by ...

A Brief Reading List for Background on "The Jewish Question"

Nonfiction
A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time, Howard M Sacher, Updated Edition 2007, 1270 pages: Considered the definitive work on modern Israel.

It's Easier to Reach Heaven Than the End of the Street, Emma Williams: 2010 memoir - an invaluable book for anyone wishing to understand the tensions in the ...

A Brief Recent History of Belarus
The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko deals with the aftermath of Chernobyl and is set in a hospital in Belarus.

While most of us think of Belarus as a part of the now fragmented Soviet Union, the country has a colorful history of being handed back and forth between Poland and Russia for centuries. Belarus was part of Poland (which ...
A Different California: The State of Jefferson
Barbed Wire Heart is set in the wilderness forest of northern California. In a state widely known for its big money areas of Southern California and the Silicon Valley Bay Area, as well as its rich farmland in the center, the northern region—from Sacramento to the Oregon border—is starkly different in geography, economics, and...
A History of Acapulco and Ongoing Cartel Control
Acapulco de Juárez, commonly known as Acapulco, is a city located on the coast of Mexico in the southwestern state of Guerrero. The name 'Acapulco' is believed to come from a word in the Náhuatl (Aztec) language meaning 'place of the reeds.' Once considered a desirable vacation spot and bustling resort town, Acapulco has in ...
A modern history of Trieste
Today, Trieste is a charming Italian city bordering Slovenia (formerly Yugoslavia) on the Adriatic Sea, home to a wide mix of cultures (map of Trieste), but in 1954 it was at the center of a Cold War quandary - what to do with this little city-state caught in the power struggle between East and West? 

Over the centuries Trieste ...
A Scenic Tour of Cooperstown, New York
Though Groff's preface to The Monsters of Templeton clearly defines her book as a work of fiction, she also admits that it is a love story of sorts for her childhood hometown ofCooperstown, New York. Cooperstown, a village in Otsego County, has several claims to fame, the most prominent of which is theNational Baseball Hall of Fame. In ...
A Short Guide to Notable Historic Barriers
Hadrian's Wall was built in AD 122. It measures 80 Roman miles (73.5 miles/117 km). It was the second of three stone and turf fortifications the Romans built across Britain to prevent military raids by the Picts (who inhabited what is now Scotland) but is best known as it is the best preserved. The lesser known walls areGask Ridge, built ...
A Short History of Afghanistan
Afghanistan lies on the historically important trading routes between the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent. As a result of numerous invasions and migrations it is made up of many different ethnic groups including Baluch, Chahar Aimak, Turkmen, Hazara, Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Nuristani, Arab, Kirghiz, Pashai and Persian.

Historically...
A Short History of Albania
Today, Albania is a country slightly smaller than the USA State of Maryland with a population of about 3.5 million.  It is bordered by Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and the Adriatic Sea. Albanian is spoken by about 6 million people living in Albania, Kosovo and the Republic of Macedonia.

It is believed by most that ...
A Short History of Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain's second largest city after Madrid, is the capital of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia in the North East of Spain (map) and a major economic center for finance, business, media, arts and international trade.  Its location on the Mediterranean coast brings it mild, humid winters and warm, dry summers.  ...
A Short History of Colombia
About twice the size of Texas with a population of 44 million, Colombia is located just south of Panama (map).  ith a per capita GDP of $8,400, 49% of the population live below the poverty line. From 1510 the area that is now Colombia was part of the Spanish empire until a nine year uprising led by Simon Bolivar resulted in the...
A Short History of Czechoslovakia
The lands now known as The Czech Republic and Slovakia were ruled by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire for about 300 years until the end of World War I and the collapse of the empire. In 1918, a union was proclaimed between the Czech lands and Slovakia to form the Czechoslovakian state, an idea that had been advocated by Czech and Slovak ...
A Short History of Ethiopia
The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (historically known as Abyssinia) is located in east Africa, on the 'Horn of Africa' (map). Once an important trade route due to its location on the Red Sea, it has been landlocked since 1993, when the province of Eritrea gained independence. It is the oldest independent country in Africa (and...
A Short History of Haiti
The Republic of Haiti occupies about one-third of the island of Hispaniola (the second largest island in the Carribean;map); the remainder being the Dominican Republic (Hayti means mountainous land in the native Arawak* language).

In 1697, the French colonized the island and imported African slaves to work the lush coffee and sugar ...
A Short History of Iran
If your recollection of the recent history of Iran is a little rusty, this brief background should refresh your memory of the events that form the backdrop to Maryam's childhood:

Iran's 4,000 year history is summed up by Dr Saeed in The Saffron Kitchen. Referring to Iran before and after the 1979 revolution he says, 'We were welcomed ...
A Short History of Iraq
map showing Kurdish and Shia areas or Iraq
The Republic of Iraq (about the size of California) spans the lands of ancient Mesopotamia, (between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers), the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range and parts of the Syrian Desert.  Mesopotamia was home to the world's first known civilization, the Sumerians...
A Short History of Jamaica
The island nation ofJamaica is in the Greater Antilles about 385 northeast of the Central American mainland, and about 90 miles south of Cuba. Within a century of Columbus sailing the ocean blue and the subsequent Spanish occupation of the island in 1494, the native Arawaks (who called the island Xaymaca) had effectively died out, due to ...
A Short History of Kenya
The Republic of Kenya is located on the eastern coast of the African continent (map). It is approximately 225,000 square miles (580,000 square kilometers), with a population of 38 million people (2008). The official languages are English & Swahili, and Nairobi is its capital city. Primary exports include coffee and tea.

The ...
A Short History of Kenya
Kenya is located on the East Coast of Africa, bordered by the Indian Ocean, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia (map). The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was the first European on record to visit the area in 1498. Portuguese rule officially began in 1505, bringing the Portuguese a useful revenue source from tribute payments, ...
A Short History of Lebanon
The area now known as Lebanon (map) was settled by the seafaring Phoenicians (also known as Caananites) around 3,500 BCE. They established city states such as Beirut, Tyre and Sidon. Over the next five millennia the area would come under the control of numerous empires including the Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Crusader and ...
A Short History of Libya
Libya is located on the Mediterranean coast in the North of Africa to the West of Egypt (map). Much of the country lies within the Sahara Desert but the coastal areas have a Mediterranean climate with arable land in the plateaus. The earliest known settlers of the area were the Berber people, known as Libyans to the Greeks. Around the 7th...
A Short History of Mongolia
Mongolia (map) is located in Northern Asia between China and Russia. It should not be confused with the Mongol autonomous region of the People's Republic of China (known as Inner Mongolia), which is located in the north of China, bordering southern Mongolia.

The name 'Mongol' was first recorded by the Chinese during the Tang ...
A Short History of Mumbai (Bombay)
The port city of Mumbai, on the West coast of India, originally consisted of a series of islands which are now joined together through reclamation. Although the area had been inhabited for many thousands of years and had been an important trading port and a center for Hindu and Buddhist culture, the city as we know it today was founded by...
A Short History of Northern Ireland
English involvement in Ireland began around 1170 when Dermot Mac Murchada, King of Leinster (one of 4 Irish provinces) asked for Henry II's help to return him to the throne from which he'd been ousted (for more about Henry II, read map); the others being Denmark and Sweden. Finland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands are sometimes described as Scandinavian because of their close geographical and historic connections with Scandinavia, although technically speaking these countries belong ...
A Short History of Palestine
The Canaanites are the earliest known civilization to live in the area of land at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, living in city-states such as Jericho around 3,000 BCE. Positioned close to Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia and Asia Minor the area was not only a meeting point for different cultures but also a battleground for various ...
A Short History of Papua New Guinea
Geography
New Guinea, the second largest island in the world*, is situated approximately 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Australia. The Independent State of Papua New Guinea (aka Papua New Guinea or PNG) comprises the eastern half of the island. (The western half is the Indonesian state of Irian Jaya.) PNG has an area of 178...
A Short History of Penang
Most of the action in The Gift of Rain occurs on the island of Penang (part of the Malayan state of Penang) situated off the northwest corner of the Malay Peninsula, in the Strait of Malacca (maps of South-East Asia, Malaysia and Penang). The small, turtle-shaped island has a total area of approximately 293 square kilometers (183 ...
A Short History of Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia covers an area about the third of the size of the USA, and occupies most of the Arabian peninsula (map), most of which is desert. Its population is about 27 million, of which 5 million are foreigners (technicians, merchants, diplomats and soldiers). 90% of citizens are Arabs and all are Muslims (...
A Short History of Sierra Leone
The Republic of Sierra Leone is a small country with a population of about 5.3 million on the west coast of Africa (map) bordered by Guinea and Liberia (For more about Liberia visit The Darling at BookBrowse and click the 'BookBrowse Says' link). The life expectancy of men is 39 years and women 42 years. The name is an adaptation ...
A Short History of the Channel Islands, including Guernsey
The Channel Islands are a group of islands approximately 30 miles off the coast of Normandy, France (map). They are organized into two bailiwicks: The Bailiwick of Guernsey (made of up of the islands of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou and Lihou), and the Bailiwick of Jersey (containing the island of Jersey and a few ...
A Short History of the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic occupies two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with Haiti (map). Claimed by Christopher Columbus in 1492, Hispaniola became a springboard for Spanish conquest of the Caribbean and the American mainland. In 1697, Spain recognized French dominion over the western third of the island, which became ...
A Short History of Tibet
Tibet, a remote region along the southwestern border of China, sits at 15,000 feet above sea level between the Himalaya and Kunlun mountain ranges. The first recorded king of the region was Srong-btsan sgam-po, who is credited with introducing Buddhism to Tibet around 640 AD. He and his descendants ruled over a unified Tibet through the ...
A Short History of Venice
Venice was founded in the River Po estuary by refugees escaping Attila the Hun in the 5th century. The city is built on more than 100 islands forming the archipelago of the Venetian Lagoon. All transport within the city of Venice is either on foot or by water. Around the 8th century Venice became a city state, like Genoa and Pisa; and ...
A Short History of Vietnam
Vietnam's history has been one of repeated invasions and resistance (historic maps). For the millennium up to the early 10th century, Vietnam was controlled by the Chinese, until a final rebellion in 938 led to Vietnam achieving independence. Over the following centuries it repelled a number of Chinese invasion attempts, including three ...
A Short History of Vietnam
Vietnam's history has been one of repeated invasions and resistance (map of Vietnam today). For most of the first millennium AD, Vietnam was controlled by the Chinese.  A final rebellion in 938 led to Vietnam achieving independence until the mid 19th century when increasing parts of the country were defeated by the French.  The ...
A Tour of New York Public Libraries
At the beginning of chapter 2 of Murder at the 42nd Street Library, Con Lehane describes the New York Public Library's famed 42nd Street branch thusly:

The 42nd Street Library stretches along the west side of Fifth Avenue from 42nd to 40th Street. The landmark beaux arts structure houses the humanities and social sciences ...

About The Dreamtime
In Lost Paradise, Nooteboom introduces us to Alma and Almut, best friends barely out of teenagehood, as they leave their childhood homes in Sao Paulo, Brazil for Australia. They're on a rather listless quest in search of The Dreamtime, an Aboriginal concept of creation and spiritual existence with which the two best friends have ...
Adoption From China
In The Fortunes, one of the main characters is adopting a baby from China. The U.S. Department of State reports that a total of 76,026 children were brought from China to the USA through adoption between 1999 and 2015. Of these, 87.1% were female and 12.9% male – a result of China's historical one-child policy and the frequent ...
Afghan Culture and Customs
Afghanistan's 33 million people are made up of more than twentyethnic groups with their own distinctive languages and cultural mores. The largest and most dominant of these groups, politically and economically, are the Pashtuns (42% of the population), The second most populous group are the Tajiks (27%). Smaller groups include the Hazaras...
Afghan Women's Writing Project
When the Moon is Low has Fereiba narrate much of the action as she flees Afghanistan, along with her children, for refuge in England. While Fereiba's story is one of escape, there are countless women left behind who must endure daily life in a country where the Taliban's extremely stifling laws leave a suffocating footprint.

The Afghan...
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