Three professors from USC Dornsife have been named finalists for the 2011 Book Awards presented by the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association (SCIBA).
Securing two out of four finalist slots in the fiction category are Deborah Harkness of history and T.C. Boyle of English for their novels A Discovery of Witches and When the Killing’s Done, respectively. Lois Banner, professor of history and gender studies, made the list of finalists in the art, architecture and photography category for her work MM — Personal: From the Private Archive of Marilyn Monroe, an annotated collection of more than 10,000 largely unseen and previously unpublished items from Marilyn Monroe’s personal cabinets
A Discovery of Witches (Viking), a New York Times bestseller, follows Diana Bishop, a historian who comes across an ancient manuscript in the course of her studies. Much like Harkness’ own research exploring the lives of historical figures, the novel follows Diana’s investigation of the strange document, which appears to hold a key into her own past as a descendant from a long heritage of witches.
With the surge of stories featuring the supernatural such as Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, Harkness was prompted by her own curiosity for the phenomenon when she put pen to paper. "I was wondering what it was about witches and vampires and things that go bump in the night — why they’re so popular and omnipresent in modern culture,” she said.
When the Killing’s Done (Viking) by Boyle, USC Distinguished Professor of English, depicts the fierce conflict between ecologists who are seeking to eliminate invasive species from the Channel Islands off of the California coast, and animal rights activists who oppose killing animals under any circumstances.
“The book is based on instances over the past ten years – turf wars among the national park and the nature conservancy, and animal rights advocates and people who feel that they alone know how to treat the natural world,” Boyle said in an interview. “But we are part of the natural world, and we have no control over it, no matter how hard we try.”
MM – Personal (Abrams) sheds a light on Monroe’s private life. An estimated five to ten thousand items were hidden away in Monroe’s personal cabinets, including telegrams, receipts, photos, handwritten and typed personal and business correspondence, legal documents, clothing inventory and financial records, to name a few.
“It’s the Rosetta Stone of Marilyn scholarship,” Banner said. “It was thought to be the one source that might unlock the mysteries of Marilyn’s life and death.”
SCIBA's award recipients represent the best literary talent in their category from Southern California. Booksellers from SCIBA select the Book Award finalists in six categories including fiction; non-fiction; mystery; art, architecture and photography; children's novel; and children's picture book.
All SCIBA Book Awards are restricted to residents of Southern California with the exception of the Glenn Goldman Award for Art, Architecture and Photography. Goldman, who was the owner of the internationally known independent bookstore Book Soup in West Hollywood, felt strongly about recognizing talent from all over the world.
The 2011 SCIBA Book Awards will be presented at the Authors Feast & Book Award Dinner on Saturday, October 22 at the Hilton Long Beach Hotel.