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Readers in revelry: Literature lovers party at library’s Park Slope gala

Winning writer: Author Tommy Pico, center right, took home the top fiction prize at the Brooklyn Classic, the Brooklyn Public Library’s annual fund-raising gala that the Brooklyn Eagles, a group of young book-lender supporters, hosted at the Park Slope branch on Nov. 3.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

It was a night for the history books!

High-rolling readers got lit with librarians at Brooklyn Public Library’s Park Slope branch on Friday, where they sipped cocktails, snacked on hors d’oeuvres, and honored local authors at a fund-raising gala that attendees cheered for its glamour.

“It was wonderful, just gorgeous,” said Connie Martin.

Members of the Brooklyn Eagles — a group of young library patrons who promote the institution — hosted the annual Brooklyn Classic, where a panel of judges bestowed two $5,000 prizes to the winners of awards for outstanding works in fiction and non-fiction before a crowd of revelers who paid as much as $150 for a ticket to the swanky shindig.

Queer writer Tommy Pico, who lived on an Indian reservation in California before moving to Kings County, took home the top honor in fiction for his extended poem “IRL,” which is written as a long text message and chronicles a gay Native American’s quest for self-discovery in Brooklyn.

And Richard Rothstein won the non-fiction prize for his historical tome, “The Color of Law,” which explores how policies set at the local, state, and federal level promoted segregation in cities across the country.

The judging panel included librarians from more than a dozen branches as well as authors, literary scholars, and critics, all of whom were tasked with selecting winners whose work best represented the ethos of the Brooklyn Public Library system, according to the co-chairman of the committee that awarded the non-fiction prize.

“Their works embody many values the library holds dear: debate and discussion, ideas that challenge us to think differently, and a belief that the right book can change the world,” said Charles Duhigg.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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