A couple of months ago I posted about the longlist for the Lettre Ulysses Award, a prize that is given to the best book-length reporting. They have since announced the winner and runners-up, and this year the award went to The People on the Street: A Writer’s View of Israel by Linda Grant. Her book is a ground level view of life in Israel, placing it in counterpoint to the scads of books that look at the region from 35,000 feet. In an excerpt, we read about the reaction on the street in Tel Aviv when people found out that Saddam had been captured.
Following last year’s win for The Orphan Master’s Son, Adam Johnson’s novel of North Korea, the Pulitzer jury named Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch this year’s winner in the fiction category. The Son by Philipp Meyer and The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis were the other finalists for the fiction prize.
Here are this year’s Pulitzer winners and finalists with bonus links:
Winner: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (excerpt, Adam Dalva’s essay on the novel, casting the upcoming movie)
The Son by Philipp Meyer (our review, our interview with Meyer)
The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis (excerpt, an essay by Martha Anne Toll)
Winner: Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin
The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide by Gary J. Bass (excerpt)
The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War by Fred Kaplan (excerpt)
Winner: The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772–1832 by Alan Taylor (review)
A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama’s America by Jacqueline Jones (excerpt)
Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser (excerpt
Winners and finalists in other categories are available at the Pulitzer Web site.
Longtime readers will recall my interest in a fairly obscure literary prize called the Lettre Ulysses Award, which recognizes works of book-length journalism from around the world. I wrote about the shortlist and winner in 2005 and the longlist and winner in 2006. Thinking it might be time for this year’s installment of the Lettre Ulysses, I recently visited the award’s website and was dismayed to discover that the award is on hiatus, perhaps permanently:The Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage will not be presented in 2007. The only world prize for literary reportage was brought to life by the cultural quarterly Lettre International in 2003 with the financial support of the Aventis Foundation and was presented annually up until 2006. The Goethe-Institut has been a partner of the project from the very beginning. Since the contract with the Aventis Foundation expired the Foundation Lettre International Award has not succeeded so far in finding a new partner to finance the award. The organizers hope to be able to present the award again annually from 2008.I’m hoping that Lettre Ulysses is successful in finding backing for next year. Though not a well-known prize, it highlighted the work of reporters around the world who shed light on conflicts and cultures that deserve global attention.
Last year, the Man Booker International Prize evolved from its previous iteration and joined forces with the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize to award £50,000 to a single work of fiction in translation, split between the author and translator (Han Kang and translator Deborah Smith took home the 2016 honors for The Vegetarian). This year’s shortlist is below — find more details about the titles here.
Mathias Énard (France), Compass, translated by Charlotte Mandell (Fitzcarraldo Editions)
David Grossman (Israel), A Horse Walks Into a Bar, translated by Jessica Cohen (Jonathan Cape)
Roy Jacobsen (Norway), The Unseen, translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw (Maclehose)
Dorthe Nors (Denmark), Mirror Shoulder Signal, translated by Misha Hoekstra (Pushkin Press)
Amos Oz (Israel), Judas, translated by Nicholas de Lange (Chatto & Windus)
Samanta Schweblin (Argentina), Fever Dream, translated by Megan McDowell (Oneworld)
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.
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.