Fiction Prize Awarded to Xochitl Gonzalez for Olga Dies Dreaming
Nonfiction Prize Awarded to John Paul Brammer for Hola Papi
Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) has announced the winners of the eighth annual Brooklyn Public Library Book Prize, awarding John Paul Brammer the Nonfiction Prize for Hola Papi and Xochitl Gonzalez the Fiction Prize for Olga Dies Dreaming. The Prize recognizes writing that captures the spirit of Brooklyn and is selected by both library staff and librarians, drawing on their broad knowledge of literature, contemporary writing, and the community.
“The winners of the 2022 Brooklyn Public Library Brook Prize—both Brooklyn-based—write poignantly about the human condition. In her debut novel, Xochitl Gonzalez, introduces us to a Latina wedding planner living in Sunset Park who is searching for love and meaning in her own life. John Paul Brammer’s memoir about growing up as a queer, biracial man in Oklahoma is inventive, witty, and heartfelt all at once,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO, Brooklyn Public Library. “We congratulate all the nominees and extend our thanks to the librarians and library staff who champion and preserve access to literature every day of the year.”
In Hola Papi, John Paul Brammer writes about growing up queer and mixed-race in America’s heartland and how, along the way, he became a wildly popular advice columnist. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that libraries saved my life. When I was a kid growing up in rural Oklahoma, the library was my safe place. I would sit around and read, and the outside world that scared me so much would quiet down and let me dream in my little corner of peace. Reading made me feel like the world was maybe even magic. For the Brooklyn Public Library to honor me in this way for my first book means the world to me. This is the city I chose, the city that has embraced me with open arms and encouraged me to create, surrounding me with like-minded individuals who inspire and challenge me. When I think of my book sitting in a library, a place I think of as so sacred and special, it makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing with my life. When I think of my book being here in Brooklyn, in a library where anyone can access it, maybe a person like me looking for refuge in a chaotic world, well, that’s more than I even thought to ask for. Thank you so much, and I promise I’ll keep doing my best,” Brammer said.
In Olga Dies Dreaming, debut novelist Xochitl Gonzalez writes about a wedding planner living in Sunset Park searching for meaning amid political corruption, familial strife and a devasting hurricane. “As a girl, my local branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is where I not only learned to read, but where I learned to love books. I can think of no more meaningful honor for OLGA DIES DREAMING, my love letter to my hometown, than this award and I beam with pride imagining readers discovering this story in the library stacks, the same way that I discovered so many of the books that shaped me,” Gonzalez said.
Librarians and library staff members working in BPL’s 62 locations nominated over 50 books this year. The nominated authors—in both the fiction and nonfiction categories—address some of the most pressing issues facing Brooklyn and the world, including immigration, race, and climate change. The selections reflect these important conversations around representation and inclusion, amid the backdrop of one of the most diverse cities in the world.
The 2022 shortlist also included Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers and What Storm, What Thunder by Myriam J. A. Chancy in the fiction category; and The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander and Warmth: Coming of Age at the End of Our World by Daniel Sherrell in the nonfiction category.
“All six shortlist selections were worthy titles that reflected the diversity of Brooklyn’s population, defying literary conventions and norms, and serving as a voice for the underrepresented facing the challenges of life in the borough and beyond,” said Librarian Carl Fossum, who was a chair of the Prize steering committee. “Olga Dies Dreaming is an unflinching examination of race, sexual identity, family ties, and what it means to find the truth in yourself. The committee admired the beautiful characters Gonzalez created and how they represented Brooklyn’s resilient spirit. Likewise, the non-fiction committee was unwavering in their praise of Hola Papi finding it entertaining, witty and wise, something we will enthusiastically recommend it to everyone in the Brooklyn reading community.”
The community is invited to a virtual celebration of the winners with Books Are Magic and BPL’s Brooklyn Eagles on Wednesday November 2 at 7 p.m. Best-selling author and Today show contributor, Isaac Fitzgerald, will host. You can learn more about the Library’s Stay Home and Read campaign here. To borrow one of the winning selections, click here.
About Brooklyn Public Library
Brooklyn Public Library is one of the nation’s largest library systems and among New York City’s most democratic institutions. As a leader in developing modern 21st century libraries, we provide resources to support personal advancement, foster civic literacy, and strengthen the fabric of community among the more than 2.7 million individuals who call Brooklyn home. We provide nearly 65,000 free programs a year with writers, thinkers, artists, and educators—from around the corner and around the world. And we give patrons millions of opportunities to enjoy one of life’s greatest satisfactions: the joy of a good book.
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