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The list highlights exceptional "Michigan books" published in 2014 that bring attention to Michigan authors and topics. Detroit's World War II role as the "arsenal of democracy", fishing the Au Sable River and Kalamazoo favorite son Derek Jeter's dream-come-true children's book about playing shortstop for the New York Yankees are among the wide-ranging topics of the 20 titles on the Library of Michigan's (LM) 2015 Notable Book list.
"These wonderful reads celebrate, in their own unique ways, Michigan's people, places and events," State Superintendent of Public Education Mike Flanagan said in announcing the list. "The Michigan Notable Books (MNB) list is a great way to showcase each year a new crop of talented writers in a state steeped in history and natural beauty and rich in stories and characters.. "Our Notable Books for 2013 are important for everyone to learn about Michigan's enduring success and promising future."
"I'm encouraged by the ever-increasing popularity and influence of the Library of Michigan's Notable Book List. Every new list seems to generate more and more interest among the media and the public, namely readers."
Each year the MNB list features 20 books, published the previous calendar year, which are about or set in Michigan or the Great Lakes region, or are written by a Michigan author. Selections include nonfiction and fiction books that appeal to a variety of audiences and cover various topics and issues close to the hearts of Michigan residents.
MNB is a statewide program that began as part of the 1991 Michigan Week celebration, designed to pay tribute and draw attention to the many people, places and things that make Michigan life unique.
"The MNB selections clearly demonstrate the vast amount of talent found in writers focusing on Michigan and the Great Lakes region" said State Librarian Randy Riley. "The list continues to offer something for everyone. The 2015 list represents fiction, short story collections, history, children's picture books, mysteries, poetry and memoirs."
This year's MNB selection committee includes representatives from the LM; The LM Foundation, the Archives of Michigan; Grand Rapids Public Library; Genesee District Library; Howell Carnegie District Library; Lansing City Pulse; Michigan Center for the Book; Michigan Humanities Council; and Schuler Books & Music.
Lolita wins the award for her novel Making Callaloo in Detroit. The daughter of parents from Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent, Lolita Hernandez gained a unique perspective on growing up in Detroit. In Making Callaloo in Detroit she weaves her memories of food, language, music, and family into twelve stories of outsiders looking at a strange world, wondering how to fit in, and making it through in their own way. The linguistic rhythms and phrases of her childhood bring distinctive characters to life: mothers, sons, daughters, friends, and neighbors who crave sun and saltwater and would rather dance on a bare wood floor han give in to despair. In their kitchens, they make callaloo, bakes, buljol, sancocho, and pelau—foods not usually associated with Detroit.
Hernandez’s characters sing and dance, curse and love, and cook and eat. A niece races to make a favorite family dish correctly for an uncle in the hospital, three friends watch an unfamiliar and official-looking man in the neighborhood, lovers and daughters cope with sudden deaths of the men in their lives, a man who can no longer speak escapes his life in imagination, and families gather to celebrate the new year with joyful dancing against a backdrop of calypso music. Hernandez’s stories reflect the diversity of characters to be found at the intersection between cultures while also offering a window into a very particular and rich Caribbean culture that survives in the deepest recesses of Detroit.