Eagle-eyed librarians name the most Brooklyn books of the year

A pair of kings: Authors Atticus Lish, left, and DW Gibson wrote the fiction and non-fiction books that best exemplify the borough of Kings, according to the Brooklyn Eagles literary committe.
Photo by Louise Wateridge

They’ve got the write stuff!

The Brooklyn Public Library crowned two of the borough’s literary kings on Friday, recognizing two tomes that exemplify the “Brooklyn spirit” at a bookish bash at the Park Slope library.

Sunset Park writer Atticus Lish took home the first-ever Brooklyn Eagle award for best fiction for his book “Preparation for the Next Life.” Lish said that the honor was especially meaningful to him, even compared to the more remunerative Poets, Editors, and Novelists Award the book also scored, because it comes from librarians.

“I have a special feeling about the Brooklyn Public Library,” said Lish. “I’m a library patron, and it’s special to me because of that.”

Non-fiction winner D.W. Gibson, who received the nod for his book “The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the 21st Century,” said being the first ever winner of the award made it even more of an honor.

“I truly feel that this is something special because it’s the inaugural award, and I get to be a part of it,” said Gibson, who lives in Flatbush. “It’s a hometown award! When your hometown honors you, you feel it extra strong!”

Even one of the nominees edged out by Gibson said that he had to agree with the decision.

“The best book won,” said Kent Russell, nominated for his essay collection “I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised A Timid Son,” of Gibson’s profile of gentrification in Brooklyn. “What book better speaks to the Brooklyn of today?”

More than 300 members of Brooklyn’s glittery literati packed into the recently-restored Park Slope library branch for the award ceremony and fund-raising party.

A bar behind the usual information desk dispensed drinks with literary names, including “The Dorothy Parker,” made with New York Distilling Company’s Dorothy Parker gin, and “The Carnegie,” a vodka and cider concoction named for the patron of the library system.

Another bar in the juvenile fiction area passed out beer and wine just steps from shelves filled with titles like “The Galactic Hot Dog” and “Ninja Librarians,” which attendees said offered a particularly cheeky thrill.

“It feels decadent drinking in a library,” said Brooklyn Heights resident Yenisey Rodriguez-McCloskey. “But the cops aren’t stopping us, so I guess it’s okay.”

The new prize was the brainchild of a group of young library supporters called the Brooklyn Eagles, which is named for a zinc statue of the bird of prey inside the Central branch of the library.

Library honchos said they were thrilled to get on board with the idea, and the inaugural Brooklyn Eagle awards will definitely be the first of many to come.

“Supporting writers who live and write in Brooklyn, and who write on Brooklyn themes, is exactly what the library should be doing,” said Linda Johnson, the library system’s president.

Reach arts editor Bill Roundy at broundy@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507.