Literary Birthdays: January 4 – January 10

January 4

Gao Xingjian (born January 4, 1940) – Chinese-French novelist – 2000 Nobel Prize in Literature – Soul Mountain

January 5

Umberto Eco (born January 5, 1932) – Italian novelist, medievalist – The Name of the Rose

January 6

carl sandburg

Carl Sandburg (born January 6, 1878) – U.S. poet, novelist

Window (1916) from Chicago Poems
NIGHT from a railroad car window
Is a great, dark, soft thing
Broken across with slashes of light.

January 7

Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston (born January 7, 1891) – U.S. ethnologist, folklorist, playwright, novelist – Their Eyes Were Watching God

Read about Hurston here:

Read about Hurston’s ethnographic account of 19th century slave trade in Barracoon, republished in 2018:

Excerpt from Hurston’s play “Poker!” (1931)

Soon as I play the deck I’m comin’ and take you alls money! Don’ rush
Ace means the first time that I met you
Duece means there was nobody there but us two
Trey means the third party–Charlie was his name
Four spot means the fourth time you tried that same old game–
Five spot means five years you played me for a clown
Six spot means six feet of earth when the deal goes down
Now I’m holding the seven spot for each day of the week
Eight means eight hours that she Sheba-ed with your Sheik–
Nine spot means nine hours that I work hard every day–
Ten spot means tenth of every month I brought you home my pay–
The Jack is three-card Charlie who played me for a goat
The Queen, that’s my pretty Mama, also trying to cut my throat–
The King stands for Sweet Papa Nunkie and he’s goin’ to wear the crown,
So be careful you all ain’t broke when the deal goes down!

January 8

Terence Dean “Terry” Brooks (born January 8, 1944) – U.S. fantasy fiction writer – Dark Wraith of Shannara (graphic novel)

January 9

Simone de Beauvoir (born January 9, 1908) – French philosopher, essayist, novelist – The Ethics of Ambiguity (French title: Pour une morale de l’ambiguïté)

January 10

Peter Barnes (born January 10, 1931) – British playwright, screenwriter – Red Noses (1985) (Olivier award winner)


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