The Guardian has a story on an interesting literary award. The International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award starts out with nominations from 162 libraries all over the world, which makes for a huge and eclectic longlist. The list of nominations includes everything under the sun. Or you can check out which libraries in which countries like which books. It’s sort of like a lesson in literary geography. Baudolino by Umberto Eco is apparently favored to win. Out of the three or four books on the list that I’ve read my favorite was probably The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster.
Update: Vargas Llosa wins! Learn more. Now that The Nobel Prize Committee has already selected their winner for the Literature prize, there's only a little time left before the announcement to bet on the winner at Ladbrokes. Of the 237 nominees selected, Ladbrokes bookies chose a few dozen authors they felt are particularly likely to win. Among them are some six Hispanophone writers, with the favorite of the bunch running at 25/1 odds. Still, everyone loves an upset, and with that in mind, we've handicapped the group ahead of the big day. Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa has been given 25/1 odds by the bookies. Vargas Llosa, 74, is an all around man of letters, in the long Latin American tradition of such figures. He’s a journalist, playwright, columnist, critic, politician (he ran for president of Peru in 1990), but most of all he’s a novelist, and among his greatest hits is The War at the End of the World, novel that made Harold Bloom’s best of all time list. A good starting point however might be The Time of the Hero, a coming-of-age story that takes place in a military academy. Of his non-fiction I am fond of Letters to a Young Novelist, a lyrical meditation on Flaubert, Cervantes, Borges, and other authors Vargas Llosa admires. It’s an admirable book of essays in its own right. Things in favor: old age, politically active Things against: politically conservative, name recognition Mexican Carlos Fuentes (30/1, then 33/1), in addition to being the screenwriter (of awful films), the former ambassador to France and an essayist, has penned some dozen novels. His fame for erudition in Mexico has reached near Harold Bloom levels. Fuentes, 82, spent much of his life in the United States as a boy and wrote The Death of Artemio Cruz when he was 34. Among other things novels often allude to U.S-Mexico relations. Of his books, I greatly enjoy The Old Gringo, a historical novel based on satirist Ambrose Bierce’s sojourn in Mexico. Fuentes remarkably takes the old stereotype of fatalistic Mexicans - seen in works by Graham Greene and D.H. Lawrence - and turns it on its head. Things in favor: old age Things against: name recognition, politically centrist This year, 79-year old Spanish novelist and poet Juan Goytisolo (30/1 then knocked to 66/1) – listed with the wrong first name on Ladbrokes (Luis Goytisolo is his brother in fact and I highly doubt he’s up for a Nobel; he hasn’t even been translated in English) - made the list. Obtuse, postmodern, and confessional are a few words that describe Goytisolo’s work. The Dalkey Archive recently reprinted Juan the Landless. A narrative tirade told with a brutal sense of humor, the book is the final part of a trilogy that announces Goytisolo’s own self-imposed exile in Morocco. Things in favor: obscure, expatriate, homosexual, old age Things against: none Ernesto Cardenal - not Cardinal, as Ladbrokes spells it - a Nicaraguan poet and former Sandanista was given 30/1 chance of winning the prize until Ladbrokes knocked him down to 45/1. After a correspondence with religious poet Thomas Merton, Cardenal decided to study at Merton’s convent in Kentucky in the 1950s. Then a visit to Cuba in 1970 lead him to embrace liberation theology - a mix of Marxism and Catholicism extremely popular all over Latin America at the time - which in effect converted him into a Sandanista. After the Sandista victory in 1979 he was the Minister of Culture until he resigned in 1987, and this year he publicly denounced Daniel Ortega, former Sandinista, and now president of Nicaragua. Cardenal is also a longtime friend of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and New Directions released an anthology of his poems last year, Pluriverse. My favorite poem from the collection, “At the Grave of a Guerilla” imagines an astronaut looking down on a guerrilla’s tomb from space. Things in favor: leftist, politically active, old age, literary merit, neglected country, poet Things against: Javier Marias, the youngest of the group at 59, is, after Vargas Llosa, is probably the most well known in the Anglophone world, not to mention a best-seller in his native Spain (I once bought one of his novels from a vending machine). Son of the expat philosopher Julian Marias, a prodigious English translator, he was recently accepted into the Real Academia Española. Of his novels, I like Tomorrow in the Battle Think On Me, the story of a love affair and an untimely death, delivered in what almost sounds like a soliloquy, laced with Shakespearean references. Things in favor: politically outspoken Things against: name recognition, young Rounding out the group, we have writer Eduardo Galeano (66/1). Author of Open Veins of Latin America, his first work that he wrote when he was a journalist in the 1960s. This is also the book that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez handed to President Obama upon meeting him. All of his works since then are collections of short, aphoristic non-fiction fables. Galeano has cranked out quite a few beautiful quotes, some of which can be found in Voices of Time: A Life in Stories, an excellent place to start with the Uruguayan writer. Things in favor: leftist, politically outspoken Things against: none Who would I like to see win: Ernesto Cardenal - He’s been reprimanded by Pope John Paul II and had has his bank account frozen by Daniel Ortega; someone has got to cut this guy some slack, and who better than the Swedes? Who might win: Juan Goytisolo - His standing almost reminds me of recent winners, with an obvious political element in his work, recognized for his work, but in the bigger picture not well-known. Of course, that is if Ladbrokes doesn't really mean Luis Goytisolo - who doesn't stand a chance. Wild card pick: Although he didn't appear on the Ladbrokes card Nicanor Parra, 94, has been projected to win so many times he's written a poem about it, or anti-poem, as he calls it. With all of Ladbrokes’ typos, errors, and last minute changes, I wonder who is really betting on this. I’ve got my copy of Petals of Blood handy just in case the favorite Ngugu Wa Thiong’o (7/2) wins.
With last month's awarding of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the 2013/2014 literary award season is now over, which gives us the opportunity to update our list of prizewinners. Literary prizes are, of course, deeply arbitrary in many ways; such is the nature of keeping score in a creative field. Nonetheless, our prizewinners post is compiled in the same spirit that one might tally up Cy Young Awards and MVPs to determine if a baseball player should be considered for the Hall of Fame. These awards nudge an author towards the "canon" and help secure them places on literature class reading lists for decades to come. 2013/14 was a suprisingly diverse year when it comes to literary awards, with no single novel winning multiple awards and very little crossover on the shortlists. Only one book is climbing the ranks this year. Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, which won the Pulitzer and was on the National Book Critics Circle shortlist. Next year, we will need to make some changes to our methodology. When compiling this list, I wanted to include both American books and British books, as well as the English-language books from other countries that are eligible to win some of these awards. I started with the National Book Award and the Pulitzer from the American side and the Booker and Costa (formerly the Whitbread) from the British side. Because I wanted the British books to "compete" with the American books, I also looked at a couple of awards that recognize books from both sides of the ocean, the National Book Critics Circle Awards and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The IMPAC is probably the weakest of all these, but since it is both more international and more populist than the other awards, I thought it added something. However, now that the Booker Prize will be open to English-language books from all over the world, including the U.S., the panel of awards is now lopsided in favor of the U.S. Is there another British-only award that we can use to replace the Booker next year? I looked at these six awards from 1995 to the present, awarding three points for winning an award and two points for an appearance on a shortlist or as a finalist. Here's the key that goes with the list: B=Booker Prize, C=National Book Critics Circle Award, I=International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, N=National Book Award, P=Pulitzer Prize, W=Costa Book Award (formerly the Whitbread) bold=winner, red=New to the list or moved up* the list since last year's "Prizewinners" post *Note that the IMPAC considers books a year after the other awards do, and so this year's IMPAC shortlist nods were added to point totals from last year. 11, 2003, The Known World by Edward P. Jones - C, I, N, P 9, 2001, The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen - C, I, N, P 8, 2010, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan - C, I, P 8, 2009, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - B, C, W 8, 2007, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz - C, I, P 8, 1997, Underworld by Don DeLillo - C, I, N, P 7, 2005, The March by E.L. Doctorow - C, N, P 7, 2004, Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst - B, C, W 7, 2002, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - I, N, P 7, 2001, Atonement by Ian McEwan - B, C, W 7, 1998, The Hours by Michael Cunningham - C, I, P 7, 1997, Last Orders by Graham Swift - B, I, W 7, 1997, Quarantine by Jim Crace - B, I, W >6, 2012, Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel - B, W 6, 2009, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann - N, I 6, 2009, Home by Marilynn Robinson - C, N, I 6, 2005, The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai - B, C 6, 2004, Gilead by Marilynn Robinson - C, P 5, 2013, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - P, C 5, 2012, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain - C, N 5, 2012, The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson - C, P 5, 2011, Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman - C, N 5, 2011, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes - B, W< 5, 2009, Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín - W, I 5, 2008, The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry - B, W 5, 2008, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout - C, P 5, 2007, Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson - N, P 5, 2006, The Road by Cormac McCarthy - C, P 5, 2006, The Echo Maker by Richard Powers - N, P 5, 2005, Europe Central by William T. Vollmann - C, N 5, 2005, The Accidental by Ali Smith - B, W 5, 2004, The Master by Colm Tóibín - B, I 5, 2003, The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard - I, N 5, 2001, True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey - B, I 5, 2000, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon - C, P 5, 2000, The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood - B, I 5, 1999, Waiting by Ha Jin - N, P 5, 1999, Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee - B, C 5, 1999, Being Dead by Jim Crace - C, W 5, 1998, Charming Billy by Alice McDermott - I, N 5, 1997, American Pastoral by Philip Roth - C, P 5, 1996, Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge - B, W 5, 1996, Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser - N, P 5, 1995, The Moor's Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie - B, W 5, 1995, The Ghost Road by Pat Barker - B, W 5, 1995, Independence Day by Richard Ford - C, P 5, 1995, Sabbath's Theater by Philip Roth - N, P
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There are tons of literary awards out there, but last year I discovered one that caught my interest because of its international and journalistic focus. The Lettre Ulysses Award celebrates book-length reporting, and does not limit its scope to any single language or geographic area. The result is that a richly varied list of books is considered. Last year's award went to Alexandra Fuller for her account of her travels with a white, African mercenary, Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier. This year's longlist is out and once again it's very eclectic:Die Hundeesser von Svinia (The Dog Eaters of Svinia) by Karl-Markus Gauss (Austria)The People on the Street by Linda Grant (Great Britain)Der Smaragdkonig. Victor Carranza und das grune Gold der Anden (The Emerald Czar: Victor Carranza and the Green Gold of the Andes) by Jeanette Erazo HeufelderThe Deurbanization of Lvov & A Week in Kishinev, part of a series of texts on the decline of post-Soviet cities by Igor Klekh (Russia)Pais de plomo. Cronicas de guerra (Country of Bullets. War Diaries) by Juanita Leon (Colombia)The Story of "Freezing Point" by Li Datong (China)Operacao Araguaia: os arquivos secretos da Guerrilha (Operation Araguaia: The Secret Archives of a Guerrilla War) by Tais Morais & Eumano Silva (Brazil)Voyage aux pays du coton. Petit precis de mondialisation (Journey to the Lands of Cotton: A Brief Manual of Globalisation) by Erik Orsenna (France)The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq by George Packer (USA)Beirut shi mahal: an Egyptian in Lebanon by Youssef Rakha (Egypt)Chasing the Monk's Shadow: A Journey in the Footsteps of Xuanzang by Mishi Saran (India)An Iraqi in Paris by Samuel Shimon (Iraq)Biz Burada Devrim Yapiyoruz Sinyorita (We are Making a Revolution Here, Signorita) by Ece Temelkuran (Turkey)Forget Kathmandu: An Elegy for Democracy by Manjushree Thapa (Nepal)Faith at War: A Journey on the Frontlines of Islam, from Baghdad to Timbuktu by Yaroslav Trofimov (Ukraine)The Long MarchGenius loci by Peter Vail (Russia)Cosecha de mujeres: Safari en el desierto mexicano (Harvest of Woman. Safari in the Mexican Desert) by Diana Washington Valdez (Mexico/USA)'What Kind of God': A Survey of the Current Safety of China's Food by Zhou Qing (China)
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Book award season enters high gear as the National Book Award finalists have been released. Winners will be announced in New York City on November 16. The short list includes the big fall book by Colson Whitehead and Jacqueline Woodson's first novel for adults in 20 years. It's a great time to be a reader. You read about nearly all of the books on the Fiction list here first, of course, 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: The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder ("Men in Tights Crammed into Confined Spaces") News of the World by Paulette Jiles (excerpt (pdf)) The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan (I Want Complete Freedom When I Write: The Millions Interviews Karan Mahajan) The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead ("Scars That Never Fade") Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (A Most Anticipated book) Nonfiction: Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild (Most Anticipated) Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (excerpt) Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Viet Thanh Nguyen's Year in Reading) The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andrés Reséndez (excerpt) Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson (Most Anticipated) Poetry: The Performance of Becoming Human by Daniel Borzutzky Collected Poems 1974–2004 by Rita Dove (Race and American Poetry: Dove v. Vendler) Archeophonics by Peter Gizzi (Peter Gizzi on J.H. Prynne) The Abridged History of Rainfall by Jay Hopler (poem) Look by Solmaz Sharif (the title poem) Young People's Literature: Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (Susan Orlean on Kate DiCamillo) March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell (our review of Book One in the series) When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin (excerpt) Ghost by Jason Reynolds The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
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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 12th) were mostly published in 2013, 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, and the 2014 shortlist is no exception, with each author hailing from a different country and four books in translation among the ten finalists. It is disappointing to see, however, that only two of the ten shortlisters are by women. The Detour (published in the US as Ten White Geese) by Gerbrand Bakker (After The Dinner: A Round Up of Newly Translated Dutch Fiction) Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser Absolution by Patrick Flanery (The Mutability of Truth: An Interview with Patrick Flanery) A Death in the Family (published in the US as My Struggle: Book 1 by Karl Ove Knausgaard (Devoutly to Be Wished: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s Consummation") Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye Traveler of the Century by Andrés Neuman The Light of Amsterdam by David Park The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (Nick Harkaway's Year in Reading) The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
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