Waldorf alumni wins prestigious US book award

By Christian von Arnim, December 2012

A former Waldorf pupil has won one of the most prestigious awards in the US literary world. William Alexander, an alumni of Kimberton Waldorf School, was the winner in the Young People’s Literature category of the National Book Awards for his fantasy novel Goblin Secrets.

The award was presented at a ceremony in New York on 14 November. Goblin Secrets came first out of a total of 314 submissions in the category.

The book, which is aimed at ages 8-12, is about Rownie, the youngest in Graba the witchworker's household of stray children. Graba has a house that moves around on chicken legs and was partly inspired by the figure of Baba Yaga in Russian folklore. Rownie escapes and goes looking for his missing brother. Along the way he falls in with a troupe of theatrical goblins and learns the secret origins of masks. Now Graba's birds are hunting him in the Southside of the city of Zombay, the Lord Mayor's guards are searching for him in Northside, and the River between them is getting angry. The city needs saving—and only the goblins know how.

"The thing about all stories, really, but especially about fantasy, is that they have the potential to throw our basic human assumptions about ourselves into question," Alexander commented on his debut novel in an interview with Publishers Weekly. “The way things are is not the only possible way that they could be. We have to know that, we have to remember it, and stories are the very first way we figure that out,” he explains on his website.

Alexander is already working on his next book set in Zombay called Ghoulish Song which will be published next March. “It’s not precisely a sequel,” he reveals in Publishers Weekly. “It happens at exactly the same time as Goblin Secrets, in the same city, with some of the same characters, but you can read them in either order. If you happen to read both, you can see the other story happening in the background.” 

William Alexander studied theatre and folklore at Oberlin College and English at the University of Vermont. He currently lives, writes, and teaches in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His short stories have been published in many magazines and anthologies, including Weird TalesLady Churchill's Rosebud WristletInterfictions 2, and Fantasy: The Best of the Year 2008.

The US National Book Foundation, which aims “to celebrate the best of American literature, expand its audience and enhance the cultural value of good writing in America”, has been presenting the awards since 1950. The winners are chosen by an independent panel of five writers.

William Alexander, Goblin Secrets, Margaret K. McElderry Books, Hardcover, 240 pages, ISBN: 1442427264, ISBN-13: 9781442427266.

http://goblinsecrets.com/book.html | National book Foundation | http://kimberton.org/alumni-2/profiles | http://willalex.net/

Source: NNA

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