Christopher Corbett, a professor of English at UMBC, released his third book: Poker Bride, a history of the Chinese in the American West. And Rosalia Scalia — who writes about life in Little Italy with the heart of Whitman and the ear of Studs Terkel — was awarded a $1,000 fiction grant from the Maryland State Arts Council.
Of his research for the book, Corbett said: “There isn’t a fly-blown town from Grangeville, Idaho to Nevada that doesn’t have a Chinese restaurant. The more I poked around, the more Chinese I found.”
Corbett’s previous books are the novel Vacationland, publishing by Viking in1986 and Orphan’s Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express, brought out in 2003 by Broadway Books.
Scalia — who wowed a crowd at Enrico’s sports bar in Highlandtown the night before Thanksgiving 2009 with a story about picking a an Italian dandelion called cicoria — won a 2010 MSAC award for her story “Uncharted Steps.”
In part, the story reads:
“Onion ran toward the shelf like an old lady. “Guy! You shot Daddy’s homemade shelf! You said that gun wasn’t real. You and your friends ruined Daddy’s shelf and broke the lamp. You gotta leave. Or just your friends have got to go, but all of yous can’t stay here.
“What am I going to tell Ma about the shelf? You know it’s going to be the first thing she notices!”
Scalia, a 1976 graduate of the Institute of Notre Dame on Aisquith Street, will most likely spend her award on books.
Rafael Alvarez can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org