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    Ta-Nehisi Coates' first novel, 'The Water Dancer,' has been a long and eventful journey. Begun a decade ago, his chronicle of a slave with an extraordinary memory who joins the Underground Railroad is the result of countless drafts, a shift from multiple narrators to a single voice, some needed advice from fellow writers and hundreds of thousands of words discarded. Coates' research ranged from reading interviews with ex-slaves and consulting a 19th-century Farmer's Almanac — books duly pictured on his Instagram account — to his numerous and revelatory visits to former plantations. And then came that call from Oprah Winfrey. 'I was just as surprised as anybody. I pretty much write for myself and the only people I think about are my wife and my editor,' says Coates, whose novel is her latest book club pick. 'I was really happy (about the news from Winfrey). But I think the most encouraging part was that she's a reader. It was clear from the conversation that she's a reader. This is not a marketing ploy. There's nothing to be cynical about.' Winfrey announced Monday that she chose 'The Water Dancer' to formally begin her new book club partnership with Apple, for which she plans a selection every other month. In October, she will interview Coates before a live audience at Apple Carnegie Library in Washington, D.C., a conversation that will air Nov. 1 on Apple TV Plus, the new streaming service. During a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press, Winfrey became tearful as she described the novel's emotional impact, how it captured the devastation and resilience of those enslaved. 'I have not felt this way about a book since 'Beloved,'' Winfrey said of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by her friend and literary idol Toni Morrison, who died in August. The 43-year-old Coates spoke to The Associated Press during a recent afternoon at a SoHo cafe, where he drank strong iced coffee and received the occasional greeting from a friend or fellow customer. He said that he began the novel after completing his first book, the memoir 'The Beautiful Struggle,' and acting on editor Chris Jackson's suggestion that he try fiction. Jackson told the AP in a recent statement that 'The Beautiful Struggle' demonstrated Coates' 'ability to dive so deeply and imaginatively into a character's interior life and invent an idiom to tell the story that was more Joyce-ian than journalistic.' Coates, who had been reading extensively about the Civil War at the time, wanted to open readers to the 'inner lives of enslaved black folks,' a 'thriller' that would also dramatize the most profound questions of freedom and identity. He worked off and on over the next few years on 'The Water Dancer,' while honing a literary voice — of realism and poetry, outrage and exploration — that Morrison would liken to James Baldwin's. As a national correspondent for The Atlantic, he wrote a highly influential and debated piece on reparations for blacks. He received a Hugo nomination for his contribution to the newly launched Black Panther comics series, 'A Nation Under Our Feet.' In 2015, he published 'Between the World and Me,' a letter to his son about being black in the United States that won the National Book Award, topped The New York Times best-seller list and helped confirm his status as one of the country's leading social commentators. 'It wasn't really that difficult,' he said of finding time for his novel. 'I really liked writing 'The Water Dancer.' It was like I get to go play again.' Winfrey's original book club was started in 1996. She has since helped turn dozens of books into best-sellers, from novels by William Faulkner to a memoir by Sidney Poitier. For 'The Water Dancer' and her upcoming choices, Apple has pledged that for each copy purchased through Apple Books, it will make a contribution to the American Library Association to support local libraries. Winfrey said she was wary at first of 'The Water Dancer,' if only because she found Coates such a 'beautiful essayist' and wondered if he could move beyond the factual world. Journalists from George Orwell to Tom Wolfe have found success as novelists, but the switch from nonfiction to fiction can frustrate the most gifted writer. Nonfiction doesn't only require adherence to the truth, but a kind of control over the narrative that the fiction writer has to surrender, at least in part. Novelists often speak of their stories becoming so real to them that a given character might lead them in a direction they hadn't otherwise intended. Coates felt that with the protagonist of 'The Water Dancer,' Hiram Walker, who did not start out at the center of the story, or even with the name Hiram. 'I really liked his story, and I said, 'This is it,'' Coates explained. While working on the book, Coates showed early drafts to peers such as novelist Michael Chabon, who suggested he 'paint the whole scene,' Coates recalls, tell everything from how the sunlight looks in the trees to the smell of the air. 'The Water Dancer' combines the most everyday details and the freest stretches of imagination, from the supernatural quality of Hiram's mind to his encounters with historical figures such as the abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Coates' favorite authors include E.L. Doctorow, known for mixing real and fictional people in such historical novels as 'Ragtime,' and Morrison. 'She just had this mastery of the sentence,' Coates said of the late Nobel laureate. 'She had a beautiful economy of words. I don't that mean that in the sense that she was a sparse writer; she filled every sentence with so much emotion and feeling and information — visceral information, literary information. She wrote the way poets write. I took that from her early on.' Coates, who says he has many ideas for another novel, left The Atlantic in 2018 and has no plans to resume his journalistic career. But even while working on fiction, he was reminded of the importance of reporting and the difference between reading about a subject and absorbing it on sight, how 'you have to be there in order to feel it, in a way you can't through books.' Coates cited the importance of actually standing on plantations and Civil War battlefields, notably a trip last year to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Charlottesville, Virginia. 'The house is beautiful, stunning, gorgeous — and it was enslaved people who built it,' he says. 'There's a tunnel under Monticello that enslaved people walked through. When I walked through that tunnel, it was like, 'Man, I get it now.' I could see so much. I could feel my people talking to me at that point. I could feel it. But that was after 10 years of work. I don't know how it happens without that.
  • Sophia Loren and Valentino received a standing ovation from a packed house of fashion and Hollywood A-listers during the third edition of the Green Carpet Awards honoring progress toward sustainability. Loren, stunning in a black gown and glistening diamond necklace, presented Valentino with an award for legacy achievement at Milan's famed La Scala Opera house. Loren said the 87-year-old designer was 'a friend, a master, a legend, a man who revolutionized the world of fashion through his elegance, passion and style.' The award capped an evening to mark progress in creating more ecological and social consciousness in the fashion industry — recognized as the second-most polluting after oil. Honorees included women in India trained to transform discarded saris into contemporary, hand-embroidered attire through the 'I was a Sari' initiative and divers from the group Healthy Seas who recover lost fishing nets from the sea floor, some of which are upcycled into nylon for fashion houses like Prada. Stella McCartney received the groundbreaker award for founding her brand 25 years ago on sustainable principles, when it was still considered a fringe notion. Wearing a black minidress made entirely of sustainable viscose that took three years to develop, McCartney told the fashion attendees that she was willing to share her knowledge with them to help accelerate the sustainability transition. 'Finally, I don't feel like I'm the freak in the room anymore, of fashion,' McCartney said. The Stella McCartney brand uses no animal byproducts of any kind, including leather, fur and animal glues, and is committed to creating textiles that preserve the environment. McCartney said that 17% of the Amazon rainforest over the past 50 years has been cut down for animal farming, and that 150 million trees are cut each year to make viscose and rayon. Sustainability awards went to Max Mara for a program to upcycle camel fibers from its coats to make insulation called CameLux, and Zegna for creating a collection including 10% of looks made completely out of upcycled materials under a program promoted by the #usetheexisting hashtag. Dutch model Doutzen Kroes, wearing a fully recycled look by Max Mara, was honored for using her social media platform to raise money to help protect elephants from being killed for their ivory through the Knot on My Planet initiative. Livia Firth, the founder of the Eco-Age consultancy that founded the awards with the Italian Fashion Chamber, credited the protest movement launched by Greta Thunberg with sharpening the commitment to sustainability in the past year. In Italy, fashion chamber members representing 60% of all Italian luxury revenues are working together to establish guidelines that they aim to make European standards on such things as the use of chemicals and fair wages. 'We cannot solve this crisis, without treating it like a crisis,' said Carlo Capasa, fashion chamber president. 'We want to make sustainability measurable, traceable and transparent.' ___ This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of Sophia Loren's first name.
  • The Motown mogul who launched the careers of numerous stars like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson has announced his retirement. The Detroit Free Press reports Berry Gordy said he had 'come full circle' at a 60th anniversary event for Motown Records on Sunday. The 89-year-old Detroit native built Motown Records into a hit-making music, film and television empire that shattered racial barriers and introduced the world at large to the sounds of R&B, soul and funk. Gordy sold the record label in 1988, but remained active, developing a musical and staying involved with the Motown Museum's $50 million expansion campaign. Speaking about retirement, Gordy said he has 'dreamed about it, talked about it, threatened it' for years. Director Lee Daniels also presented Gordy with the Motown Legacy honor.
  • A new film dives into the mystery around a Latina labor leader who organized farmworkers years before Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta and then disappeared. 'Adios Amor: The Search for Maria Moreno' on PBS focuses on a Mexican American mother of 12 who galvanized poor agricultural workers during the late 1950s and early 1960s until she vanished. Director and producer Laurie Coyle says finding archive photos of Moreno sparked the idea. Coyle says a photographer and radio reporter remembered Moreno as an important advocate but didn't know what happened to her. The documentary examines how the Texas-born farmworker emerged as a leader in California before moving to Arizona. The film, a presentation of VOCES, PBS' Latino arts and culture documentary program, is slated to premiere Friday on most PBS stations.
  • Patricia Arquette is having a 'wonderful time' in her acting career, but the Emmy winner said she is still struggling with the death of her sister. Arquette said backstage Sunday night that she is grieving heavily after Alexis Arquette died at the age of 47 in 2016. She made a tearful tribute to Alexis during her acceptance speech at the Microsoft Theater after she won best supporting actress in a limited series for her role in the Hulu series 'The Act.' 'I think as an actor or actress, we try to act like everything is fine,' said Arquette while holding her trophy backstage. 'But the truth is, I've been having this heavy grief. I feel like I'm just starting the process. I really miss my sister.' Alexis, who was transgender, died from a heart attack and battled HIV for 29 years, according to her death certificate. She memorably played a trans sex worker in 'Last Exit to Brooklyn' and a Boy George impersonator in 'The Wedding Singer.' During her acceptance speech, Arquette urged to end to the persecution of trans people, and backstage, called out comedians who joke about them: 'That's not acceptable.' It's the second Emmy win for Arquette, who won best lead actress in a drama for her role on 'Medium' in 2005. She also is an Oscar winner. ___ Follow AP Entertainment Writer Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MrLandrum31
  • And the category, a jubilant Billy Porter said as he made Emmys history, 'is love, y'all, love.' Porter, known for making fashion statements on red carpets, became the first openly gay man to win an Emmy for best actor in a drama series for his role of Pray Tell on FX's 'Pose.' 'I am so overwhelmed and so overjoyed that I have lived long enough to see this day,' said Porter, rocking a towering asymmetrical cowboy hat and sparkling striped trousers. He quoted James Baldwin, speaking on stage of the many years it took of 'vomiting up filth that I had been taught about myself and halfway believed before I could walk around this Earth like I had a right to be here.' Porter added: 'I have the right, you have the right, we all have the right.' As the crowd listened intently, Porter thanked his mother, Clorinda, saying 'there's no stronger, more resilient woman who has graced this earth. I love you mommy.' He also thanked his show's co-creator, Ryan Murphy: 'Ryan Murphy, you saw me! You believed in us.' The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD congratulated Porter in a statement 'for this well-deserved honor and for always using his work and platform to showcase the power of being authentic.' 'Pose,' set in the 1980s and 1990s, illuminates New York's African American and Latino LGBTQ ballroom culture and the houses formed among the dancers and models as they compete for trophies. Porter, who already had Grammy and Tony awards, beat out nominees Jason Bateman, Sterling K. Brown, Bob Odenkirk, Kit Harington and Milo Ventimiglia. 'I gotta breathe' Porter said. 'God bless you all. The category is love, ya'll, love.' He urged his fellow actors to work for change. 'We are the people. We as artists are the people who get to change the molecular structure of the hearts and minds of the people who live on this planet,' Porter said. 'Please don't ever stop doing that. Please don't ever stop telling the truth.
  • The searing TV series on the plight of the Central Park Five created a memorable Emmy moment Sunday when the five exonerated men stood and were honored at the awards show. The four-part Netflix series explores the true story of five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were coerced into confessing to a rape they didn't commit in 1989 and follows them over the course of 25 years to their eventual exoneration. Show creator Ava DuVernay lost in the directing and writing categories but Jharrel Jerome won for best lead actor in a limited series. 'I feel like I should just be in the Bronx right now, just chilling, waiting for my mom's cooking. But I am here in front of my inspirations,' said Jerome, a New Yorker whose mother told him about this ugly chapter in city history. He then acknowledged the Central Park Five — Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise — who had been invited. 'This is for Raymond, Yusef, Antron, Kevin, and King Korey Wise. Thank you so much, it's an honor. It's a blessing,' said Jerome. Some of the men raised fists in the air, while others, including Wise, had tears in their eyes. Jerome played Wise in the series. The case of the Central Park Five cut the city along racial lines from the outset, with the victim being a young white woman. It drew worldwide attention. It took years for the five to be exonerated, and they spent most of their youth in prison. Another man later confessed to the attack. The series has had real-life consequences for former 'Central Park Five' prosecutor Linda Fairstein. Fallout from the Netflix show has led to her being dropped by her book publisher, Dutton. Fairstein also resigned as a Board of Trustees member at Vassar College and from the victims-services agency, Safe Horizon. ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
  • Television celebrity chef and restaurateur Carl Ruiz has died. He was 44. His New York City restaurant, La Cubana, confirmed his death in an Instagram post on Sunday. The restaurant said 'no words can fully express our sadness at the sudden loss of their dear friend and brother.' The cause of death was not immediately clear. An Institute of Culinary Education graduate, Ruiz made frequent appearances on The Food Network channel as a competitive chef and judge. He also opened a slew of restaurants around the world. La Cubana, his most recent restaurant, opened in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood in June and features the cuisine of his Cuban heritage. The restaurant said it plans to honor Ruiz's memory by establishing a scholarship for aspiring chefs.
  • Michelle Williams said in her Emmy-winning speech that women need to be listened to and fairly compensated for their work. 'I see this an acknowledgement of what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feel safe enough to voice them and feel respected enough to be heard,' she said on Sunday night. Williams won the award for best actress in a limited series or movie for her work in 'Fosse/Verdon.' The eight-part FX series co-starred Sam Rockwell. Bob Fosse was the exacting mind behind the angular movements and bowler hats of 'Chicago,' the brutally autobiographical 'All That Jazz' and the dark punch of the film 'Cabaret.' But Gwen Verdon, often overlooked, won four Tony Awards within six years in the 1950s. They were married in 1960 and separated in 1971 when Fosse's womanizing finally took its toll. Williams credited FX and to Fox 21 Television Studios for showing her respect by giving her extra dance classes, voice lessons and better wigs and false teeth when she asked, regardless of cost. She also pointed out that she was paid as much as Rockwell. Williams infamously received just $1,000 to reshoot scenes from 2017's 'All the Money in the World,' while co-star Mark Wahlberg negotiated $1.5 million for the added scenes. Williams has said she felt paralyzed after learning of the disparity. 'The next time a woman — and especially a woman of color because she stands to make 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterpart — tells you what she needs in order to do her job, listen to her. Believe her,' Williams said Sunday. 'Because one day she might stand in front of you and say thank you for allowing her to succeed because of her workplace environment and not in spite of it.' Before she left the stage, Williams dedicated her win to her daughter. 'Matilda, this is for you, like everything else,' she said. ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus has come short of making Emmy history for the most overall acting wins. The 'Veep' actress Sunday lost her shot at a ninth statuette as an actress, losing the best comedy crown to Phoebe Waller-Bridge of 'Fleabag.' Louis-Dreyfus was hoping to best Cloris Leachman's haul of eight acting wins. The 'Seinfeld' alum went into the night with a career tally of 11 and the chance to win two more for producing and acting in 'Veep.' But both those awards eluded her. Her mantel includes three Emmys for producing 'Veep,' one for her supporting turn on 'Seinfeld' in 1996 and another for starring on 'The New Adventures of Old Christine' in 2006. She then became the first actress to win the comedy acting award six times in a row for the same role.