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 Perhaps the high point was when he read some unpublished work, which turned out to be a story he wrote when he was seven.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.
The shortlist for a still fairly new, but very worthwhile award has been announced. The Best Translated Book Award highlights work in translation (of course), a corner of the literary world that gets far less attention in the U.S. than it deserves. "The Best Translated Book Awards launched in 2007 as a way of bringing attention to great works of international literature. Original translations (no reprints or retranslations) published between December 2009 and November 2010 are eligible for this year’s award. Quality of the original book and the artistry of the English translation are the criteria used in determining the winning titles. Thanks to the support of Amazon.com, each winning author and translator will receive a $5,000 cash prize." The shortlist comprises ten books, and six languages are represented: The Literary Conference by César Aira, translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver The Golden Age by Michal Ajvaz, translated from the Czech by Andrew Oakland A Life on Paper by Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud, translated from the French by Edward Gauvin The Jokers by Albert Cossery, translated from the French by Anna Moschovakis Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky Hocus Bogus by Romain Gary (writing as Émile Ajar), translated from the French by David Bellos The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson, translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal On Elegance While Sleeping by Emilio Lascano Tegui, translated from the Spanish by Idra Novey Agaat by Marlene Van Niekerk, translated from the Afrikaans by Michiel Heyns Georg Letham: Physician and Murderer by Ernst Weiss, translated from the German by Joel Rotenberg
As expected, Cormac McCarthy's The Road took home the top prize in TMN's Tournament of Books. Oprah stole some of the award's thunder with her surprise announcement, but the excellent finale, with commentary from 17 judges, is a great read. In fact, I had a great time following the Tournament this year (for me it rivaled the NCAA's in terms of holding my interest). It was a treat to read reactions to books like The Road and One Good Turn day after day from a big group of people. I'm already looking forward to next year.And incidentally, after reading all these reactions to The Road in the Tournament, along with all the Oprah-fueled media coverage, it's starting to sound like The Road is one of those important books that comes along from time to time. One that has real staying power.
The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award has unveiled its massive 2011 longlist. Recall that libraries around the world can nominate books for the prize, and these nominations, taken together, comprise the longlist. This year there are 162 novels on the list, nominated by 126 libraries in 43 countries. All of the books must have been published in English in 2009 (including translations). Because of the award’s global reach and egalitarian process, it’s always interesting to dig deeper into the longlist. Taken as a whole, the literary proclivities of various countries become evident, and a few titles recur again and again, revealing which books have made a global impact on readers. Overall favorites: books that were nominated by at least seven libraries. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (14 libraries representing Canada, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, and the United States) Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín (13 libraries representing Belgium, England, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, and the United States) The Help by Kathryn Stockett (11 libraries representing Barbados, Hungary, Maldives, and the United States) Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (10 libraries representing Australia, Canada, England, India, Italy, South Africa, and the United States) A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore (7 libraries representing the Greece, Norway, Spain, and the United States) The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (7 libraries representing Barbados, New Zealand, Poland, Scotland, and the United States) The Blind Side of the Heart by Julia Franck (7 libraries representing Croatia, Germany, Greece, and Norway) You can also look at the list and see which books are favorites in different countries. Several books were nominated by multiple libraries in the same country. Here’s a few: In Canada, The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre, Galore by Michael Crummy, and The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon In the Netherlands, Joe Speedboat by Tommy Wieringa In Australia, Lovesong by Alex Miller There were also several countries with only one library nominating just one or two books. Here are a few of those: From Denmark, The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard From Estonia, Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby From Jamaica, Inner City Girl by Colleen Smith-Dennis From Mexico, Season of Ash by Jorge Volpi Escalante From Trinidad and Tobego, Anna In-Between by Elizabeth Nunez
In the second year that the Booker Prize has been open to U.S. authors, five American authors make the longlist. Anne Enright is the lone former winner on the list, while Marilynne Robinson is the most celebrated American to be tapped. Other notable names include Hanya Yanagihara, Tom McCarthy, and Bill Clegg, who has been better known as a high-powered literary agent and memoirist. Laila Lalami, who now calls the U.S. her home, is the first Moroccan-born writer to land on a Booker longlist. Seven countries are represented overall. All the Booker Prize longlisters are below (with bonus links where available): Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg The Green Road by Anne Enright (What It Is to Be Alone: The Millions Interviews Anne Enright) A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (The Book Report on A Brief History) The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami ("How History Becomes Story – Three Novels" by Laila Lalami, Ship of Fools: On Laila Lalami’s The Moor’s Account) Satin Island by Tom McCarthy (A Millions Top 10 book) The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma ("The Audacity of Prose" by Chigozie Obioma, Clickworthy Headlines about The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma) The Illuminations by Andrew O'Hagan Lila by Marilynne Robinson (Marilynne Robinson’s Singular Vision) Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota The Chimes by Anna Smaill A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Two Lives: On Hanya Yanagihara and Atticus Lish)
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Book award season is peaking along with the autumn leaves as the National Book Award shortlists have been released in four categories. These have been whittled down from last month's longlists, and the winners will be announced in New York City on November 18. You read about nearly all of the books on the Fiction shortlist here first, as they appeared in our indispensable first-half and second-half previews. Here’s a list of the finalists in all four categories with bonus links and excerpts where available: Fiction: Refund by Karen E. Bender ("For What Purpose") The Turner House by Angela Flournoy (Dynamite Detroit Debut: On Angela Flournoy’s The Turner House) Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (the book's opening passage, The Most Joyous Part: The Millions Interviews Lauren Groff, Lauren Groff writing at The Millions) Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson (excerpt) A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Two Lives: On Hanya Yanagihara and Atticus Lish, ‘I Wouldn’tve Had a Biography at All’: The Millions Interviews Hanya Yanagihara) Nonfiction: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates ("We Know Less Than We Think We Do") Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann (excerpt) The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery (excerpt) If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran by Carla Power (excerpt) Ordinary Light: A Memoir by Tracy K. Smith (A Field Guide to Silences: On Tracy K. Smith’s Ordinary Light) Poetry: Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay (the title poem) How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes (poem) Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis (poem) Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón (Charring the Page: On Ada Limón’s Bright Dead Things) Elegy for a Broken Machine by Patrick Phillips (the title poem) Young People's Literature: The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin (excerpt) Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (excerpt) Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin (excerpt) Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman (excerpt) Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (interview)
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