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NEW ENGLAND LITERARY NEWS

Laurels for a veteran editor, a bookshop catering to kids, and the children’s book written by a Harvard Medical School alum

Gayatri Patnaik of Beacon Press recently won the Editorial Excellence Award from the Biographers International Organization.
Gayatri Patnaik of Beacon Press recently won the Editorial Excellence Award from the Biographers International Organization.Chris Sullivan

Editor extraordinaire

For the last six years, the Biographers International Organization has been giving annual awards to outstanding editors and this year the BIO Award for Editorial Excellence has gone to Gayatri Patnaik, associate director and editorial director of the estimable Boston-based Beacon Press. Patnaik founded the press’s important “ReVisioning American History” series, of which Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s American Book Award-winning “An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States” is part. She also started, with Michael Bronski, its LGBTQ series, “Queer Action/Queer Ideas.” Patnaik edited Imani Perry’s award-winning biography “Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry.” She’s been at Beacon since 2002, and aims her attention on books about US history, focusing on ethnicity, immigration, and race. She’ll be honored at a virtual award ceremony on Nov. 9, joined by authors Perry, Marcus Rediker (“The Fearless Benjamin Lay”), Jeanne Theoharis (“The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks”), and literary agent Tanya McKinnon. For more information and to register for the event, visit biographersinternational.org.

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Bookshop for kids

Alyson Cox’s first job out of college was at an indie bookstore and the dreamseed to one day own a bookstore of her own was planted. From there, she worked in publishing in Boston, and then as a librarian. The pandemic forced cuts at the Marlborough Public Library where she worked, and she was laid off from her job this spring. The seed planted years ago started to grow and she recently opened Word on the Street, a children’s bookstore, in downtown Marlborough. The store focuses on books for kids and young adults, and carries a variety of puzzles, cards, toys, and art supplies. Cox hopes the store will launch kids into a lifelong love of reading, and also knows that books and bookstores can play an important role in a fraught and frightening moment like this. Word on the Street is located at 109 Main St. in Marlborough. You can visit online wordstreetbooks.indielite.org.

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Math’s magic

Rajani LaRocca was born in India, raised in Louisville, and has been in Massachusetts for the last 20-plus years, first at Harvard, then Harvard Medical School, and now, living in Concord, working as a doctor, as well as writing children’s books. Her latest, out this week, “Seven Golden Rings: A Tale of Music and Math” (Lee and Low) follows Bhagat, a boy from a dusty village with a beautiful voice who wants to try his luck at becoming one of the Rajah’s court singers. He sets out to seek his fortune with a single coin and a chain of seven golden rings, and in order to afford a place to sleep in the kingdom, needs to figure out a way to make his rings go as far as they can go, “so many ways to divide a whole.” The book, with lush and dreamy illustrations by Archana Sreenivasan, has the feel of a folktale, and wrapped inside it is a riddle that introduces young readers to the concept of binary numbers, the underpinning of computing. LaRocca will read and discuss the book in a virtual launch on Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. through Silver Unicorn Books. Visit silverunicornbooks.com for more information.

Coming Out

Where the Wild Ladies Areby Aoko Matsuda, translated from the Japanese by Polly Barton (Soft Skull)

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Fugitive Atlasby Khaled Mattawa (Graywolf)

Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skinby Megan Rosenbloom (FSG)

Pick of the Week

Kim Knowlton at Wakefield Books in Wakefield, R.I., recommends “The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North America’s Wildlands” (Grand Central): “Jacob Gray was setting out on a cross country bicycle tour when he vanished, leaving his bike on the side of a road. So begins the ordeal of his family who try to discover what has happened to him. Jacob’s father commits himself wholly to finding his son. The journey takes him into wild rivers, into the world of Search and Rescue volunteers, and even into the realm of dedicated Bigfoot researchers. The author discusses many other cases of people who vanished in the wild and the efforts to locate them. An unsettling but fascinating book.”

Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung.” She can be reached at nmaclaughlin@gmail.com.