Until Wednesday night, I'd never even visited Athenaeum of Philadelphia. Heaven knows how I'd missed it for so long.
The Athenaeum is a private, special-collections library located on Washington Square in Philadelphia's lovely and gracious Old City neighborhood. Founded in 1814 to collect materials "connected with the history and antiquities of America, and the useful arts, and generally to disseminate useful knowledge" for public benefit, the Athenaeum is a unique and rich resource for Philadelphia and the nation.
In 1950, the library inaugurated its annual literary award. Nominated works are reviewed "on the basis of their significance and importance to the general public as well as for literary excellence," and the award has previously gone to writers like Chaim Potok, Catherine Drinker Bowen, and Lauren Eisley.
On Wednesday, I was fortunate enough to join that company. And it was amazing.
Perhaps two hundred Philadelphians gathered for the event, which took place in the Athenaeum's gorgeous, high-ceilinged reading room. I read from Finn, discussed both the novel's origins and critical response to it, and then we adjourned for a lovely reception.
Here's a report on the evening from the newly-reborn Philadelphia Bulletin.
Hot tip: If you visit the Athenaeum, don't miss the death mask of Napoleon.
Next post: Our swell evening with the Secret Book Club, winners of the Finn Book Club Menu Contest...
Causes Jon Clinch Supports
The Mark Twain House and Museum