Last night I had the opportunity to attend part of a reading by the new Booker Prize winner DBC Pierre (he won for Vernon God Little), and Dan Rhodes, whose book Timoleon Vieta Come Home was shortlisted. Rhodes went first, mentioning that were he to purchase a star map, he would be interested only in finding Morissey’s house. He then read some super short stories from his “cult favorite,” Anthropology: and a Hundred Other Stories, which were charming and amusing in a Richard Brautigan sort of way. Here are four of them. Perhaps the high point was when he read some unpublished work, which turned out to be a story he wrote when he was seven. It was about a pop star/football star who “goes wee on everyone.” DBC Pierre, when it was his turn to read, offered this interesting nugget: he said that since he is a new writer he does not read very much for fear of corrupting his fragile writing voice — an odd sentiment, but one that I’m sure some writers can relate to.
From across the pond comes word that Anne Enright has won the 2007 Booker Prize for her novel The Gathering, beating out bookies' favorite Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones and On Chesil Beach by household name Ian McEwan. The Independent's review of The Gathering sets the scene:brings together fragments of the past, real and imagined, all filtered through the consciousness of Anne Enright's narrator, Veronica Hegarty.Veronica is a middle-aged, newly middle-class Irish mother of two, with a Tudor-redbrick-Queen-Anne house, a nice Saab and an incredibly long-suffering husband. She is endowed with vast numbers of siblings, one of whom, when the novel opens, has just walked into the sea and drowned himself in Brighton.For a second and third opinion, the Guardian offers a pair of raves from A.L. Kennedy and Adam Mars-Jones. Enright hails from Ireland and has three prior novels to her name The Wig My Father Wore, What Are You Like?, and The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch. The curious can also read an excerpt from The Gathering.How We Got Here: the longlist, the shortlist
The IMPAC Award shortlist was announced today. The IMPAC sets itself apart with its unique approach. Its massive longlist is compiled by libraries all over the world before being whittled down by judges. This makes for a more egalitarian selection. It's also got a long lead time. Books up for the current prize (to be named June 13th) were all published in 2010, putting the IMPAC more than a year behind other big literary awards. There's a distinct upside in this. By now, nearly all the shortlisted books are available in paperback in the U.S. The IMPAC also tends to be interesting for the breadth of books it considers.This year's shortlist is typically eclectic, representing several countries and ranging from bestsellers to relative unknowns.Rocks in the Belly by Jon BauerThe Matter With Morris by David BergenA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan – (excerpt, Egan’s Year in Reading, The Millions profile of Egan, A Millions Hall of Famer)The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (excerpt)Even the Dogs by Jon McGregorMatterhorn by Karl Marlantes (our review, excerpt)Landed by Tim PearsLimassol by Yishai SaridThe Eternal Son by Cristovão TezzaLean on Pete by Willy Vlautin (excerpt)
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As others have mentioned, the winners of the National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced last night. Here they are with some links to excerpts and/or reviews if you want to know more about the books:Fiction: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - excerpt, reviewNonfiction: The Reformation by Diarmaid MacCulloch - excerpt, reviewBiography: De Kooning: An American Master by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan - reviewPoetry: The School Among the Ruins: Poems 2000-2004 by Adrienne Rich - listen to Rich readCriticism: Where You're at: Notes from the Frontline of a Hip Hop Planet by Patrick Neate - excerpt