One Book One Philadelphia

Creatively Speaking
11:35 am
Mon February 17, 2014

A Young Composer's Musical Mirror to Iraq War Veteran's Haunting Novel

Composer Alyssa Weinberg

Curtis graduate student Alyssa Weinberg read and re-read this year’s One Book, One Philadelphia choice as she composed Prayer, her work inspired by The Yellow Birds. With war as its setting, the novel by Kevin Powers makes a zigzag journey in time and place between Iraq, Fort Dix, a base in Germany, and Virginia - the place a young Private Bartle leaves, and returns to, profoundly changed.

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Creatively Speaking
10:26 am
Tue February 11, 2014

"One Book" We're Reading This Year in Philadelphia: The Yellow Birds

The Free Library of Philadelphia's One Book, One Philadelphia selection for 2014 is The Yellow Birds, written by Kevin Powers, an Iraq War veteran. He says he didn't set out to write a sweeping epic about the war, but rather tried to create a complete picture of the psychological, emotional, and physical experience the war has on 21-year-old Private Bartle. 

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Creatively Speaking
6:01 am
Mon February 11, 2013

One Book, One Philadelphia 2013 Continues: The Buddha in the Attic

Author Julie Otsuka

This year's "One Book, One Philadelphia" choice gives voice to an American history story that's not widely known. The author of this year’s Free Library of Philadelphia selection spoke with WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston about her novel - The Buddha in the Attic.

Through mid-March the Free Library brings readers together to create new connections and understanding through literature. Author Julie Otsuka says she's not prescriptive about what readers take away from her short novel. Read it and decide for yourself.  

DUDDLESTON:  Author Julie Otsuka tells the story of first generation Japanese-American women who crossed the Pacific in the early 1900s as new wives of men known to them only through pictures and letters.   She depicts their steely bravery and how they come to grips with a reality that's a world away from what they expect.

OTSUKA:  I’m just, I’m kind of interested in fate.  You’re just assigned a mate pretty much at random and you have to make it work with that man.  There was no going back for these young girls because they were too poor to afford the ship passage back home.

Listen to a longer conversation with Otsuka to hear about the evolution of her book, The Buddha in the Attic.

DUDDLESTON:  The narrative is set against the backdrop of anti-Japanese prejudice  that led to the government-run internment camps during WWII.   The style, Otsuka says, is rhythmic - like the music of composer Steve Reich -  compulsive, propulsive with a hypnotic beat.

MUSIC:  Steve Reich’s Vermont Counterpoint

OTSUKA:  I kind of feel like that's something that I'm aspiring to do with language. I mean I feel like there’s this secret underground rhythmic grid that holds the story together that has nothing to plot or with character, but it just has to do with the sound of the language and where the accents fall literally on the words.   Just the sound of words and language.

Creatively Speaking
7:51 pm
Sun January 6, 2013

One Book, One Philadelphia 2013: The Buddha In The Attic

Julie Otsuka won the 2012 PEN/Faulkner Prize for Fiction for her novel 'The Buddha in the Attic.'

A new year, a new book to nurture the hearts and minds of Philadelphians - and everyone!  The award-winning novel by Julie Otsuka - The Buddha in the Attic - is a Japanese-American story of things left behind. It's this year’s One Book, One Philadelphia choice.

Starting January 17th through mid-March, The Free Library of Philadelphia will lead readers on a journey through the lives of Japanese-American “picture brides.” Their story starts with a voyage in steerage in the early 1900s, and culminates as they’re sent away to government internment camps during World War II. Otsuka’s rich portrayal reveals as much about our national character during those years as the personal resilience of these first-generation immigrants.  

This past fall, the author shared her thoughts about writing The Buddha in the Attic - a prequel to her first celebrated novel, When the Emperor was Divine.

More about the Free Library of Philadelphia's One Book, One Philadelphia initiative.

Creatively Speaking
12:18 pm
Sat January 12, 2008

The Philadelphia Orchestra: Leonard Bernstein Festival

Leonard Berstein

Jim Cotter speaks with Jennifer Higdon.  The Philadelphia Orchestra and Time for Three premier her Concerto 4-3 this week. It's part of the orchestra's Leonard Bernstein Festival.

Also, Susan Lewis looks at the life and legend of the great American composer, conductor, and educator.

Jason Peifer talks to the organizers of the annual One Book, One Philadelphia program.

More Information:

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