Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award of 1921 & 1922
Thursday, February 17, 2022 at 6:30 pm
Hybrid: Boston Public Library's Rabb Hall and Virtually on Zoom
The Hundred Year Retroactive Book Award of 1921 and 1922 was held on Thursday, February 17, 2022 at 6:30 pm. This free hybrid event debated the the enduring literary merits of three bestsellers published in 1922. This year’s contenders were Claude McKay’s Harlem Shadows, Emily Post’s Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home, and James Joyce’s Ulysses. The books were be championed by poet Porsha Olayiwola, Boston Globe columnist and author Meredith Goldstein, and Boston College professor Joseph Nugent, respectively. Boston DJ Kennedy Elsey moderated the lighthearted debate, after which the audience voted to determine the winner of the Retroactive Book Award of 1922.
In addition, theatre artist Allison Olivia Choat announced the winner from the online voting for the best book of 1921. The public selected from Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, and Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author.
Watch the event on YouTube to find out the 1921 and 1922 winners:
Meet the 1922 presenters
Porsha Olayiwola defended Claude McKay's Harlem Shadows. She is a writer, performer, educator, and curator who uses afro-futurism and surrealism to examine historical and current issues in Black, woman, and queer diasporas. She is an Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and the artistic director at MassLEAP, a literary youth organization. Olayiwola is an MFA Candidate at Emerson College and the author of i shimmer sometimes, too. She is the current poet laureate for the City of Boston.
Meredith Goldstein defended Emily Post's Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home. She is a reporter, podcast host, and writer of the long-running Boston Globe advice column Love Letters. Meredith also wrote the novels Things That Grow, Chemistry Lessons, and The Singles, as well as the memoir Can’t Help Myself: Lessons and Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist. Since 2020, Meredith has recorded her Globe podcast, also called Love Letters, in her basement, not far from her vintage collection of Sweet Valley High books. The show, which tells other people's love stories, is now in its 6th season.
Professor Joseph Nugent defended James Joyce's Ulysses. He is the Professor of Practice at Boston College’s English Department. His interests lie at the confluence of Irish Studies, Joyce Studies, and the Digital Humanities. Each year, he devotes a semester to original explorations of James Joyce’s Ulysses. His articles have appeared in, among other publications, Victorian Studies, The Senses and Society, and Éire-Ireland. His devotion to Joyce is also reflected in Raidin the Wake, his “Finnegans Wake” reading group, and in the Boston Joyce Forum conferences which he runs annually.
the 1922 Candidates
Claude McKay’s Harlem Shadows
Emily Post’s Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home
James Joyce’s Ulysses
the 1921 Candidates
Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We
Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author
Meet the 1921 presenter
Allison Olivia Choat
Allison Olivia Choat is an IRNE- and Elliot Norton award-winning theater artist who works at the intersection of directing, design, and physical storytelling. Allison is Associate Artistic Director and Founding Partner of Cambridge-based theater company Moonbox Productions, where their recent credits include 2021’s The Rocky Horror Show (Dramaturg) and 2019's Norton Award winner for Outstanding Musical, Parade (Associate Director/ Dramaturg). Other recent credits include Moonbox's Caroline, or Change (Director) and The Nora Theatre's Cloud 9 (Assistant Director/ Voice and Dialect Coach/ Set Design). Offstage, Allison works as an academic administrator at Harvard University, is a contributing voice actor with The Penumbra Podcast and Colonial Radio Theatre, and is a voice and movement coach for public speakers, performers, and athletes.
Meet the moderator
Kennedy Elsey moderated the event. She is the co-host of the popular morning radio program, Karson and Kennedy, on Mix 104.1. She grew up in suburban Chicago and graduated from Drake University with a double major in Theater and Psychology. Kennedy is deeply involved in community events and runs a program called Karson & Kennedy’s Cool Kids. Cool Kids brings amazing kids who have overcome adversity on fun adventures, at no cost to the kid or their families. She is also an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness serving on the board for Samaritans and raising funds with her program "Your Light Is Needed". Kennedy lives in Quincy with the most stable man in her life, her Lab, Elvis.
Previous Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Awards
The Associates of the Boston Public Library's Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award is now in its twenty-third year.