Last Wednesday evening WWB staff, board members, contributors, supporters, and readers gathered at Tribeca 360 to celebrate our fourteenth anniversary and to honor Jill Schoolman, founder and publisher of Archipelago Books, with the 2017 Ottaway Award for the Promotion of International Literature.
Following cocktails and conversation overlooking the Hudson River and lower Manhattan, guests took their seats for dinner with literary table hosts Masha Gessen, Elliot Ackerman, Idra Novey, Gregory Pardlo, and many other distinguished writers.
Image: Emcee Maaza Mengiste. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan.
New York Review of Books editor Ian Buruma welcomed the crowd, and gala chair Jim Ottaway, Jr. shared the history of the evening’s award, now in its fifth year, and spoke to the essential role of international literature in resisting isolationist thinking.
Presenting the 2017 Ottaway Award to Jill Schoolman, Edwin Frank, founder and editor of New York Review Books Classics, praised her “unfaltering commitment to the independence of literature” and described the “beautiful, mythic, wild, welcoming” space that Archipelago titles embody, a space that “reveals things we have never known and renews the things we have always known.” In accepting the award, Jill shared her inspiring vision of publishing books that allow readers to get lost in other worlds, and recognized her staff and the larger community of writers, translators, booksellers, librarians, subscribers, and donors who have supported Archipelago’s mission since its founding in 2003.
Image: Readers Alia Malek, Allison M. Charette, Rakesh Satyal, Naivo, Georgi Gospodinov, Maaza Mengiste (emcee), and Osama Alamar. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan.
Other highlights of the program included bilingual readings from writers and translators Osama Alomar, Alia Malek, Naivo, Allison M. Charette, Georgi Gospodinov, and Rakesh Satyal, as well as reflections by Cheryl Smith, associate professor of English at Baruch College, and her student, Ayesha Schmitt, on the power of Words Without Borders’s educational initiative, WWB Campus, in conveying to readers “how big the world’s literary legacy is and how they fit into it.”
WWB executive director Karen Phillips spoke passionately about the importance of storytelling and story listening, and the need to be intentional about which stories we are listening to. Writer Maaza Mengiste, the evening’s emcee, closed the program with a poignant description of her personal history with language and literature, and the simultaneous expansion and intimacy that occurs when we are exposed to something new and recognize ourselves within it.
Image: Milena Deleva, Ken Chen, Georgi Gospodinov, Barbara Epler, and WWB Executive Director Karen Phillips. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan.
The revelry continued with the fourth annual Globe Trot after-party, hosted by the WWB Young Publishers Committee and co-hosts Hala Alyan, Alex Gilvarry, Jaroslav Kalfar, Katrine Øgaard Jensen, Kanishk Tharoor, and Jenny Zhang. The room was filled with writers, readers, and publishing professionals, who enjoyed conversation, food and drink, raffle prizes, and dancing late into the night to the music of DJ Herbert Holler.
Thank you to the dedicated and diverse community of friends who came out to support WWB’s mission and to celebrate the vital role of international literature in transcending borders. We look forward to seeing you at our fifteenth anniversary fête!
Image: Orien Joseph Longo and Katrine Øgaard Jensen on the dance floor at the 2017 Globe Trot. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan.