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Books And Literature

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A new report from the American Library Association says attempted book bannings and restrictions at school and public libraries continue to surge, setting a record in 2022. The report released Thursday says more than 1,200 challenges were recorded by the association in 2022, nearly double the then-record total from 2021. Deborah Caldwell-Stone is the director of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom. She says she has “never seen anything like this,” and calls the past two years “exhausting, frightening, outrage inducing.” Librarians around the country have told of being harassed, and threatened with violence or legal action.

The glitzy, fictional Broadway musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe that formed the heart of the TV show “Smash” will make the leap to an actual Broadway stage next season. Producers said Wednesday that “Smash” is slated for Broadway in the 2024-25 season, welcome news to many of the show’s fans and the Broadway community who embraced its look at the inner workings of their industry. The new book for “Smash” will be co-written Tony-nominated Rick Elice, who penned “Jersey Boys,” and Tony-winner Bob Martin, who won for “The Drowsy Chaperone.” No casting for the Broadway version was revealed.

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President Joe Biden welcomed a high-wattage collection of singers, authors, artists and humanitarians to the White House on Tuesday to present them with medals — and then stole the show himself with a quip about seeking reelection. Bruce Springsteen, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mindy Kaling and Gladys Knight were among the 22 people and organizations being honored. When author Colson Whitehead’s award was announced, Biden noted the novelist had already won back-to-back Pulitzer Prizes. The president, who is expected to announce for reelection this spring, quickly picked up on that and joked that he was looking “for a back-to-back myself.”

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The Oprah Winfrey book club has reached 100 picks. On Tuesday, Winfrey announced that she had chosen Ann Napolitano’s “Hello Beautiful” as the milestone pick. Winfrey reflected on the journey her book club has taken in a recent interview with The Associated Press. She says she has relied on the same instincts from the start, and it's always a sign that “there's something powerful and moving” when she doesn't move on. Since 1996, her book choices have set her on a journey of extraordinary influence and success, frequent reinvention and the occasional controversy. It has endured through changes for both Winfrey and the publishing industry.

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Nobel literature laureate Kenzaburo Oe, whose darkly poetic novels were built from his memories during Japan’s postwar occupation and from being the parent of a disabled son, has died. He was 88. His publisher said Oe died March 3. Oe in 1994 became the second Japanese author awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. The Swedish Academy cited the author for his works of fiction, in which “poetic force creates an imagined world where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today.” His most searing works were influenced by the birth of Oe’s mentally disabled son in 1963. “A Personal Matter” was published a year later. He also wrote nonfiction and spoke against nuclear power.

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