The action at TMN’s Tournament of books continues. Judge Marcus Sakey shocked the world by selecting The Emperor’s Children over The Echo Maker, which was, to my mind, the presumptive favorite having taken down the National Book Award and all manner of praise from critics spanning the globe. But this, folks, is why we play the games. The Echo Maker going down early hurts our chances to win this thing as we had it going all the way (my pdf bracket). Luckily, a number of other folks had the book going far as well, so the damage is somewhat limited. In other news, the little rat that could, Firmin, made it through round one, selected by judge Sarah Hepola over Brookland, which she found to be “so boring.”
Colum McCann can add the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award to the long list of accolades he has received for Let the Great World Spin. The book is a Millions Hall of Famer and our coverage of the title has been fairly extensive. Previously: Digging into the 2011 IMPAC Longlist, The Eclectic IMPAC Shortlist Has Arrived.
The 2013 National Book Award winners were announced tonight in New York City. The big prize for Fiction went to James McBride for The Good Lord Bird. Upon arriving at the podium to accept his honor, the noticeably shocked author quipped, “I didn’t think I would win today. … If any of the other writers had won, I wouldn’t feel bad because they are all fine writers, but it sure is nice to win.” His novel, a “literary rendering of John Brown,” the white abolitionist who led an unsuccessful raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia in 1859, deploys an artfulness and an irreverence that, according to one critic, “becomes not a lampooning of champions and calamities but a new kind of homage.”
The Nonfiction award went to George Packer for his “awe-inspiring X-Ray of the modern American soul,” The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America. Don’t miss our full review.
The Poetry award was won by Mary Szybist for Incarnadine. During her acceptance, the poet remarked that, “Poetry is the place where speaking differently is the most prevalent.” The winner in the Young People’s Literature category was Cynthia Kadohata for The Thing About Luck.
Earlier in the presentation, E.L. Doctorow accepted the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. As our own Bill Morris attests, the award was well-deserved.
Next by James Hynes has been named the winner of The Believer Book Award, and it was announced Friday that Thomas Teal’s translation from the Swedish of Tove Jansson’s The True Deceiver took home the Best Translated Book Award. The book was competing with a shortlist of ten novels in translation.
If there is an award season for the book industry, it’s probably right around now. The Booker will be announced in a couple of days, the Nobel Prize was just announced, and now the finalists for the National Book Award have been announced. (The Pulitzer doesn’t happen until the spring, though.) The big news this year is that the 9/11 Commission Report has been nominated in the non-fiction category. It’s an unprecedented development, and I can’t help but think that a message is being sent. And it is a rather clever way of getting publicity for the award. It also, however, reflects the important place in history that 9/11 will hold. On the fiction side, the nominees are an interesting bunch, all of the women and none of them big, well-known names. Below you can find the nominees for the fiction and non-fiction categories, and some excerpts or whatever else I could find.FictionMadeleine Is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum — profileFlorida by Christine Schutt — interviewIdeas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories by Joan Silber — excerptThe News from Paraguay by Lily Tuck — excerptOur Kind: A Novel in Stories by Kate Walbert — excerptNon-FictionArc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle — reviewWashington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer — excerptLife on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett by Jennifer Gonnerman — excerpt (this is a good one)Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt — excerpt9/11 Commission Report — read it here
Last night, the winners of the National Book Critics Circle Award were announced in New York City. The award is voted on by critics and considers all books in English (including in translation), no matter the country of origin. The winners in the various categories and some supplementary links:
Nonfiction: Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (excerpt)
Criticism: Clare Cavanagh, Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics: Russia, Poland, and the West
Biography: Sarah Bakewell, How To Live: Or, A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer (at The Millions, excerpt)
Poetry: C. D. Wright, One with Others
Previously: The finalists