Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2012? NOooo? No Problem. BookPundit Fiction Prize for 2012 Goes to Nele Neuhaus

[crossposted from BookPundit]

NOooo Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2012?
No problem.

How about an alternative reward for Nele Neuhaus, Germany's best-selling crime novelist?

As written at Agence Hoffman:
"Nele Neuhaus is the most successful German crime writer. She took the bestseller lists by storm with SCHNEEWITTCHEN MUSS STERBEN/Snow White must die and WER WIND SÄT.*

Nele Neuhaus' gripping novels are set in the Taunus mountains, where the author lives."
* We add here our footnote translation of "Wer Wind Sät" as "If You Sow Wind", based on the German phrase that whoever sows wind, will reap a whirlwind.

So we herewith award The BookPundit Fiction Prize for 2012 to Nele Neuahus, who writes "Taunus, Germany-based" complex crime novels in German dealing with modern topics such as wind energy and environmental politics, for example, which she then weaves into the magically interlaced substance of her marvelous criminal mystery novels. The results are outstanding.

This award, by the way, is not connected with any other benefit other than this simple recognition of her excellent book writing.

We initially became aware of the works of Nele Neuhaus after asking at the local library what novels were currently being borrowed the most and was told "the crime series of books of Nele Neuhaus". Well, so we loaned out a book.

Her books are a series of crime squad investigations led by Inspector Oliver von Bodenstein and his colleague Pia Kirchhoff. The books are well researched and the author works together with real crime investigation professionals to get the crime details right. A truly great, almost natural gift for writing adds the rest.

Our own bookseller regards Tiefe Wunde ("Deep Wounds") as the best book by Nele Neuhaus thus far and it is the third book in the series. Google Translator translates the short description of Tiefe Wunde at as follows:
"The 92-year-old Holocaust survivor David Joshua Goldberg is killed at his home in the Taunus with a neck shot. At autopsy, the doctor makes a strange discovery: Goldberg's arm bears the remains of a blood group tattoo, as it was customary for members of the SS. Then ... two more murders [occur], executions. What mystery linked the victims to each other? The investigations lead ... Chief Inspector Oliver Bodenstein and his colleague Pia Kirchhoff far into the past ...[to] East Prussia in January 1945 ... 
Nearly 200 enthusiastic readers ... on 22 August 2009, [experienced] the book launch of 'Deep Wounds' at the Kempinski Hotel in Königstein [in the Taunus]."
Well, if you read German, you are lucky, because you can enjoy the Neuhaus crime novels. We assume the publisher will bring English-language versions soon, but we can not guarantee it.

Maybe the best thing they could do this year was not to award the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. They would have missed Neuhaus anyway.

Women's Rights Wrongfully Curtailed in 5-4 Decision by Macho U.S. Supreme Court in Coleman v. Court of Appeals of Maryland

The more that we read about the decisions of the current conservative majority of five on "the Roberts-Kennedy Supreme Court", i.e. Justices Thomas, Alito, Scalia, Roberts and in many cases the swing judge, Justice Kennedy, the less we like what we see.

This is surely the worst majority of five EVER on the U.S. Supreme Court and so, we think, they will be judged by history, for rolling back many of the civil rights and gender protections gained by citizens over many years of legal struggle. Indeed, the current majority seems to be busy diluting civil rights and freedoms wherever they can.

Linda Greenhouse confirms our view in her New York Times article on Women's Work, discussing the Coleman v. Court of Appeals of Maryland case, in which those five judges prevailed over the minority of four, a minority consisting of the most intellectual of all the male Justices, Justice Breyer, and the three women Justices on the bench, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan.

Whenever you have that kind of a CLEAR political, gender and intellectual split on the Supreme Court, i.e. patriarchs vs. women and intellect, that is no reflection of "the law", but is a reflection of personal biases, and that is most unfortunate for the law in general and for the reputation of the current U.S. Supreme Court specifically, which often appears to be more political than judicial in nature.
We have five men on that conservative majority of the Supreme Court who are each individually seemingly lost in one of the preceding centuries. This makes good judging in the modern world difficult, much to the detriment of an America that desperately needs to move forward into a new century offering stiff challenges. Nostalgic lawmaking and judging are not going to help.

As written by Justice Ginsburg in her dissent, although Coleman v. Court of Appeals of Maryland was not a sex discrimination case per se, involving a man rather than a woman, the entire background of the Family and Medical Leave Act at issue in the case before the Supremes in fact had to do largely with special "self-care" medical leave because of women's pregnancy.

The Act was correctly written gender-neurtral to avoid specifically making a law that provided only self-care leave protection for working pregnant women, although that was its major intent.

Any dilution of the rights granted by the Family and Medical Leave Act necessarily discriminates against pregnant women.

There is no doubt about that, even though this particular case involved a man -- but THAT should not change the interpretation of the protection provided by the law. We think the majority five are smart enough to know that. But they voted for dilution of rights anyway, primarily to the detriment of the women of the United States.

Accordingly, the majority did not even go into the core of Justice Ginsburg's dissenting argument, preferring to cop out in a very cowardly way on the argument that Congress acted beyond its constitutional authority when a section of the Family and Medical Leave Act opened the individual States to employee damage suits for failing to abide by the provisions of the Act.

If an individual State now violates or does not apply the spirit of the Family and Medical Leave Act, they are, according to this U.S. Supreme Court decision, immune from suit. This is what the majority considers to be "State's rights". Immunity with legal impunity. That's law? No, that is rule by fiat.

A case comment by Richard from Wisconsin to this posting says it well:
"More important is what it underscores about the Roberts Court--its willingness to issue rulings that undo progressive legislation that Republicans in Congress could not stop, and its overt hostility to the rights of ordinary workers, whether they're employed by private corporations or state governments."
Amen to that.

It will not be long and we will have people in the streets again, demonstrating for basic civil rights and human freedoms and that will be thanks in part to this majority of five who surely think that Mama's place is in the cucina ("kitchen" in Italian).

There are those who think that it is not significant that there are no Protestants on this Supreme Court. In fact, it is VERY significant.

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