On The Avenue

Library Honors Lions, and the Sometimes Lyin’ Truman, too

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Truman Capote once famously said, “I don’t care what anybody says about me, as long as it isn’t true.” But then, many writers tell little lies for a living and end up acclaimed lions for it. The New York Public Library hosted its annual Literary Lions Gala on Monday night to celebrate its 2016 class of top cats. Some of them have been roaring loudly for quite a while. Honorees included humanitarian/activist/musician Harry Belafonte, novelists Hilary Mantel and Javier Marías, Wall Street Journal columnist author, and former Ronald Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, and Irish novelist, essayist and poet, Colm Tóibín.

The event also commemorated the 50th anniversary of Truman Capote’s Black & White Ball.  In Capote’s honor, guests were given a chance to view a special collection of objects from that iconic 1966 event, including the original invitation for fashion editor Diana Vreeland; an alphabetized, indexed guest list for the ball; one of the coveted admittance cards for “Mr. Capote’s dance,” and press clippings of the event from the NY Times, the NY Post and WWD.

The evening hosted over 500 guests and raised $2.5 million. It was the first major event held in the Library’s iconic Rose Main Reading Room since it was reopened after two and a half years of renovations. Appropriately, then, the legendary soprano Jessye Norman sang Climb E’vry Mountain.

The well-read guest list included Annette Gordon-Reed, Anthony Appiah, Ariana Rockefeller, Bharati Mukherjee and Clark Blaise, Calvin Trillin, Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera, Charlie Rose, Chris Noth, David Remnick, Diane Ackerman, Don Lemon, Elizabeth Alexander, Ethan Hawke, Fisher Stevens, Gay Talese, Henry Louis Gates, Joyce Carol Oates, Julie Taymor, Lionel Tiger, Louis Begley, Maira Kalman, Paul Goldberger, Phyllis Rose, Renata Adler, Robert B. Silvers, Roxana Robinson, Sherry Bronfman, Sloane Crosley, Susan Cheever, Thelma Golden and Duro Olowu, Tom Wolfe, Vincent Piazza, Walter Mosley, and Zadie Smith.

The hosts of the event were Evan R. Chesler, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Abby S. Milstein, Chair, Executive Committee, and Anthony W. Marx, President.

Co-chairs were Princess Firyal, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Phillips, Stephen A. and Christine Schwarzman, James S Tisch, Merryl H. Tisch, Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Wachenheim III, Mrs. John L. Weinberg, Mr. Boaz Weinstein, and Mrs. Tali Farhadian Weinstein.

In his remarks, Marx said that the great work of this year’s Lions will always be available so that future generations can draw inspiration from them. And that’s no lie.

For over 30 years, the Library has celebrated individuals who have made significant contributions to New York City and to the creative community at large during its annual gala.  Previous honorees include Nelson Mandela, Elie WieselSalman RushdieOprah Winfrey, Martin Scorcese, Margaret Atwood, Zadie Smith, Steve Martin, Ethan Hawke, Dave Eggers, and Anna Deavere SmithAlan Bennett, Judith A. Jamison, Maira Kalman, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Gloria Steinem were last year’s Library Lions.

Visit the New York Public Library’s website at nypl.org.


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