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.
Back in January I briefly made mention of something called the WHSmith Award. It's a British award that is determined by public opinion. People vote from a list of nominated finalists to determine the best book of the year. After 148,000 votes cast, they have announced the winners in eight categories, including the latest Harry Potter in the fiction category, Brick Lane by Monica Ali for best debut novel, Yoga for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Do It by Geoff Dyer for travel books, and Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country?, in something called the "factual" category. So as not turn over complete control to the masses, the also give out an award called the "Judges' Choice," which was awarded to the American writer, Richard Powers for his dense critical favorite, The Time of Our Singing. As I said when I first found out about this award, I would be very interested to see the results of an American award determined by popular vote. A lot more Americans read than people think, so an astute businessperson could, in my opinion, do quite well creating an award like this to fill the void. Here are the complete results of the 2004 WHSmith Awards.
Now that the 2006 Booker Prize longlist has been out for 24 hours, we're seeing the commentary roll in. So far, the big story shaping up appears to be Peter Carey, who could win for a record third time with Theft, versus Black Swan Green by David Mitchell, who many believe was robbed when his novel Cloud Atlas failed to win a couple years back. Also getting talked up as potential favorites in the early going are Be Near Me by Andrew O'Hagan and Sarah Waters for The Night Watch.Looking at the media coverage, The Guardian highlights the difficulty that the judges reportedly encountered in assembling the longlist, taking "more than six hours to pick 19 authors, a length of debate far longer than that taken by previous judges to choose most eventual winners." The Times leads with Andrew O'Hagan, who lost out to J.M. Coetzee five years ago. Metro notes that Hisham Matar's In the Country of Men is the only debut novel on the list. At the Literary Saloon, Michael looks at the total number of books considered for the prize this year and in years past, while lamenting that this even longer list isn't made public.Of course, the most amusing part of the annual Booker frenzy is the role of the oddsmakers, who take bets on the prize. Nearly all of the Booker commentary mentions these odds in gauging who might be favored, and the BBC rounds up the details on that front. Serious gamblers, meanwhile, should head straight to William Hill, where the latest odds are posted. As of this writing, Black Swan Green is the favorite at 6 to 1, while Nadine Gordimer's Get a Life brings up the rear at 26 to 1.
Book award season enters high gear as the National Book Award finalists have been released in a series of four longlists consisting of ten books apiece. Five finalists in each category will be announced on October 13, and winners will be announced in New York City on November 16. The fiction list seems well balanced but also includes many familiar names. Alongside highly touted books by Colson Whitehead and Garth Greenwell are critical darlings like Lydia Millet and Karan Mahajan. It's a great time to be a reader. You read about nearly all of the books on the Fiction longlist 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") What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell ("ISO the Next Great Gay Novel") Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett (A Most Anticipated book) 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 Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie (excerpt) Sweet Lamb of Heaven by Lydia Millet (Lydia Millet, writing at The Millions) Miss Jane by Brad Watson (Brad Watson's Year in Reading) The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead ("Scars That Never Fade") Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (A Most Anticipated book) Nonfiction: America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History by Andrew J. Bacevich (excerpt) The Firebrand and the First Lady, Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Struggle for Social Justice by Patricia Bell-Scott (excerpt) Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck by Adam Cohen (interview) 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) Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil (Most Anticipated) The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andrés Reséndez (excerpt) The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition by Manisha Sinha (interview) 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 Selected Poems of Donald Hall by Donald Hall (Sonya Chung on Donald Hall) The Abridged History of Rainfall by Jay Hopler (poem) Bestiary by Donika Kelly (poem) World of Made and Unmade by Jane Mead Look by Solmaz Sharif (the title poem) Blackacre by Monica Youn (Siobhan Phillips on Monica Youn) Blue Laws by Kevin Young (poem) Young People's Literature: Booked by Kwame Alexander (excerpt) 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) When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore (excerpt) Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (excerpt(pdf)) Pax by Sara Pennypacker and Jon Klassen Ghost by Jason Reynolds Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story by Caren Stelson (excerpt) The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
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Award season is hitting its stride, and this year's National Book Award finalists have been announced. The big name among the fiction finalists is Column McCann. He is joined by an intriguing mix of newcomers and lesser known writers. Overall, it looks like the National Book Award is trying to push the envelope a bit this year, unsurprising with the likes of Junot Díaz and Lydia Millet on the judging panel. Not making the fiction cut are notable writers like Thomas Pynchon, Richard Russo, and Lorrie Moore. Here's a list of the finalists in all four categories with bonus links and excerpts where available: Fiction: American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (excerpt, review, Most Anticipated) In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin (excerpt) Lark and Termite by Jayne Anne Phillips (excerpt) Far North by Marcel Theroux (excerpt) Nonfiction: Following the Water: A Hydromancer's Notebook by David M. Carroll (excerpt) Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species by Sean B. Carroll (excerpt) Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin (excerpt) The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy by Adrienne Mayor (excerpt [pdf]) The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles (excerpt) Poetry: Versed by Rae Armantrout (excerpt) Or to Begin Again by Ann Lauterbach (poem) Speak Low by Carl Phillips (poem) Open Interval by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon (poem [pdf]) Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy by Keith Waldrop (excerpt [pdf]) Young People's Literature: Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose Stitches by David Small Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia
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Don't miss out on the start of the 2009 Tournament of Books, perhaps the highlight of the competitive reading circuit. As might be expected, 2666 easily vanquishes its underdog opponent, Steer Toward Rock, though the color commentary suggests perhaps that not everyone will be so enamored with Bolaño's masterpiece. (And indeed, I suggest that anyone reading the ToB this year be sure to read Kevin Guilfoile's and John Warner's commentary as well. It is equal parts amusing and insightful.)Stay tuned for my own ToB judging appearance once the Tournament hits the second round.