Literary Award Gala: Book Smart

Always a highlight for Nashville Public Library supporters and anyone eager to mingle with well-known authors, anticipation for this year’s Literary Award Gala ran doubly high. For the first time, two authors would receive the Nashville Public Library Foundation honor. Esteemed historians and journalists Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas joined the impressive list of prior recipients of the award, including Margaret Atwood, John Lewis and John Updike.In addition to authoring a number of biographies, Walter’s resume includes time as chairman of CNN and editor of Time magazine. Evan retired as editor at large of Newsweek and is an astute political observer who has written 10 nonfiction books. Together, they co-authored The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made, which — like their individual works — examines subjects who have made a significant impact on our everyday lives.This common thread inspired a theme of innovation, first appearing on the lenticular print of the invitation. Lacey Fuson of Big Events Inc. worked with artists Susan Hulme and Billy Renkl to design a larger-than-life interactive version of that artwork, and guests thoroughly enjoyed watching it “move” as they walked past the panels in the Ingram Hall Lobby. While ascending to dinner in the Reading Room, they were fascinated by installations of book spine graphics applied to the stairs.After a seasonal meal from Kristen Winston Catering, co-chairs Vandana Abramson and Kathryn Sasser welcomed everyone, and NPLF President Shawn Bakker followed with an exciting update. The room burst into applause upon learning that the Votes for Women Room will open in Spring 2020 ahead of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. Walter and Evan chatted about The Wise Men andthe “golden days” of news magazines and questioned one another about their books and the personalities in them.The evening ended in Ingram Hall with Champagne and coffee around the lenticular panels. Inspired by the authors’ conversation, all were delighted to receive a copy of The Wise Men as a parting gift.