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Proulx honored at Fitzgerald Literary Conference in Rockville

  • Published in Local

IMG 0019E. Annie Proulx     PHOTO BY PETER ROULEAUROCKVILLE — On Saturday, the F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference presented its 21st annual award to author E. Annie Proulx.

Named for the author of the acclaimed novel “The Great Gatsby,” who is interred, along with his wife Zelda, in the cemetery at St. Mary’s Church in Rockville, the conference leadership aims to honor Fitzgerald’s work as well as the work of contemporary American authors, and to provide educational opportunities for aspiring writers.

At their annual festival, conference members honor one American writer with the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. They held this year’s festival at Richard Montgomery High School, across Rockville Pike from Fitzgerald’s grave.

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Award-winning author speaks at Gaithersburg High School

ngozi adichieChimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke at Gaithersburg High School on Sept. 26, as part of the One Maryland, One Book program. COURTESY PHOTO  GAITHERSBURG — Award-winning and world-renowned author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie spoke to an audience of about 1,000 people at Gaithersburg High School on Sept. 26 as part of the One Maryland One Book program.

Adichie is a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award and her work has been translated into over 30 languages.  She divides her time between nearby Columbia and Lagos, Nigeria.

The Maryland Humanities Council established the One Maryland One Book program 10 years ago to encourage Marylanders to read and discuss a certain book every year. A committee with the council chooses a book that aligns with the year’s theme. This year’s book is “Purple Hibiscus” by Adichie and the theme is “Home & Belonging.”

This year, there are 350 programs in the state focused on this book, including three events with the author, said Phoebe Stein, executive director of Maryland Humanities.

“Purple Hibiscus” is a coming-of-age novel that follows the account of 15-year-old Kambili as she navigates a fraught relationship with her abusive father during political upheaval in Nigeria. Kambili and her brother spend time together living in two different homes: one with their parents, and another with their aunt who, while having less money than Kambili’s family, has a home full of laughter and life. The novel tackles themes such as colonization, religious hypocrisy and gender and family dynamics.

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Local teen author celebrates book release

Nimai ArgwalIn addition to his new novel, Nimai Argawal is also creating a series of paintings that depict life in an Indian village, including this oil portrait, “The Shepherd.” COURTESY PHOTO  At a time when most teenagers are just discovering their passions in life, 18-year-old Nimai Agarwal is celebrating the June publication of his first novel “The Lotus Saga.” The book tells the story of a young scribe named Rook, who is forced to venture out to fight an ancient evil.

“When I started writing the book, my main character Rook was my age, 12 years old. As I grew up, he grew up with me, and by the end of the book, he became 15 [or] 16.  My growth was reflected in the book’s growth.”

When Agarwal began writing the book, he was inspired by the wave of young adult fantasy books that became popular in the early 2000s, works like “Eragon” by Christopher Paolini, and the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling. He later moved on to more mature fantasy novels like The Lord of The Rings books by J.R.R. Tolken.

“I lost motivation at a lot of points; I went to many writing camps, where I was surrounded by a lot of amazing writers that gave me a burst of motivation, as I could see my peers doing great things,” said Agarwal. “I wanted to write this book for a long time, so I always found a reserve of motivation when I lost hope, I found it and continued.”

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Never too old to tell a really good story

x90 year old authorRecently published author Frances Chavarria.  COURTESY PHOTO   Frances Chavarria was in her eighties when she sat down to write her first book. Now 90, the Rockville resident is getting ready for book signings and dreams of seeing her novel up on the big screen.

Chavarria’s novel, “Let Us Dream of Turtles,” is a love story that pits greedy developers against environmentalists and takes place in Costa Rica, where she lived for 35 years. Chavarria took two years to complete her 300-page book that includes events such as an earthquake and tsunami.

In 2010, she found an editor, who wanted to publish the book if she agreed to make a few cuts, including many of the food descriptions. Chavarria agreed, but eventually stopped, believing the revisions were hurting her book. She put it on a shelf and moved on.

Four years later, Chavarria moved into senior citizen housing in downtown Rockville and met fellow resident, Edith Billups, who had written and edited magazines.

The two hit it off immediately and soon found themselves reworking the manuscript. Billups said she loved the manuscript instantly, especially “all the suspense and intrigue.” And, Billups laughed, Chavarria “may be 90, but she’s got some great love scenes in here.”

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Lake Wobegon's Keillor honored in Rockville ceremony

Garrison KeillorAuthor and former "Prairie Home Companion" host Garrison Keillor. COURTESY PHOTO

ROCKVILLE – Hundreds of literary enthusiasts came to the Best Western Plus in Rockville Saturday to see one prominent Minnesota native writer receive an award named for another.

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Conference marked its 20th anniversary by presenting its annual award to Garrison Keillor.

Named for the author of the acclaimed novel “The Great Gatsby,” who is buried along with his wife, Zelda, at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Rockville, the award is presented to an American author in recognition of his or her achievements in writing.

Keillor is best known as the creator, star, and principal writer of the musical/comedy variety radio show “A Prairie Home Companion,” which he hosted from 1974 until his retirement earlier this year.

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Gaithersburg book fest draws huge crowds despite rain

Gburg Book FestivalThousands braved the rain to attend the seventh annual Gaithersburg Book Festival. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER

GAITHERSBURG – While organizers agreed Saturday’s inclement weather brought attendance down from previous years, several thousand people nonetheless braved the rain and came to the City Hall grounds for the seventh annual Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Attendees could listen speeches by authors and meet them afterward as well as purchase books and participate in workshops, including ones for kids.

Novelist Jeffery Deaver writes crime and mystery novels, several of which have been adapted into films.

Deaver said he became interested in writing as a child because he had few friends. He praised the role books play in forging connections between people.

“You see a shy boy carrying a book under his arm,” Deaver said. “You look at the cover and say, ‘Oh, I like that book, too.’ And suddenly that boy isn’t alone anymore. Suddenly you have a new friend.”

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