Authors bring historical fiction, fantasy, poetry and adrenaline to RUSA’s 2016 Literary Tastes program

For Immediate Release
Fri, 05/13/2016


Leighann Wood

Membership and Awards Program Specialist

Reference and User Services Association (RUSA)

CHICAGO-- The Reference and User Services Association will host five award-winning authors — James Hannaham, Joy Harjo, Naomi Novik, Jim Shepard, Karin Slaughter-- at the 2016 ALA Annual Conference program “Literary Tastes: Celebrating the Best Reading of the Year,”  a conference tradition that features authors from RUSA’s book awards for adults.

The event will take place from 8 - 10 a.m., Sunday, June 26, at the Rosen Centre, Grand Ballroom A in Orlando. Each year expert readers’ advisory librarians from RUSA’s Collection Development and Evaluation Section (CODES) spend hundreds of hours reading and reviewing books written for adults to identify the most outstanding writing published in the areas of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, genre fiction, Jewish literature and audiobook narration. “Literary Tastes” is an opportunity to hear from noteworthy authors whose books are among their annual selections and also celebrate the art and craft of writing with fellow book lovers. Authors will be signing books immediately following the presentation.

James Hannaham’s book, Delicious Foods, (Little, Brown and Company) was named a 2016 RUSA Notable Book for Fiction, which has since won the 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Themes of race, addiction, wage slavery and corporate greed coalesce in this startling, darkly comic coming of age odyssey.

Joy Harjo, author of Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems (W.W. Norton and Company), was named a 2016 RUSA Notable Book for Poetry. Folklore, history, personal journeys and modern times are entwined in this absorbing work by a Native American poet.

Naomi Novik, author of Uprooted, (Del Rey Books), was the 2016 Fantasy category winner of RUSA's Reading List and has since been in the works to become a feature film. In this enchanted old-world fable, villagers threatened by a blighted magical wood allow the resident wizard to take one daughter into servitude for ten years. When he chooses klutzy Agnieszka, she faces an unexpected future and confronts the dangers of a wider political world and the roots of magical corruption.

Jim Shepard’s book, The Book of Aron (Alfred A. Knopf), was named the 2016 winner of RUSA’s Sophie Brody Medal for excellence in Jewish Literature as well as a finalist for the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. This book is an eloquent blend of fiction and non-fiction that recounts the story of the Warsaw Ghetto through the unvarnished voice of a child.  Shepard's narrator, Aron, gives a chilling and realistic depiction of the progressive deterioration of his world.  Shepard weaves Aron's voice with that of Dr. Janusz Korczak, a heroic historical figure dedicated to the welfare of the Jewish children in his charge. This is a haunting story of the Holocaust.

Karin Slaughter, author of Pretty Girls (William Morrow), was the 2016 Adrenaline category winner of RUSA's Reading List. Three sisters are driven apart in the aftermath of one’s disappearance. When a violent crime occurs new fears arise and relationships shift again. Long term effects of family grief are exploited by the compulsions of a psychopath. Brutal and disturbing, this is ultimately a story of love and empowerment.

Readers who share RUSA’s enthusiasm for books should also plan to attend the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction Awards Celebration--a ticketed reception co-sponsored by RUSA and Booklist and supported by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. This year’s program is sponsored in part by NoveList. The reception is scheduled for 8 - 10 p.m. that same Sunday evening, and tickets are just $25 for RUSA members. More information can be found about these awards at

The Reference and User Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers’ advisory and resource sharing. RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. Learn more about the association at