Ah, well. De gustibus non est disputandum.
This year's Costa (renamed from the Whitbread thanks to a change in sponsorship) Award winners have been named in several categories. The prize typically plays second fiddle to the heavyweight Booker, but some might appreciate its refreshing lack of fanfare, drama, and controversy (which seem to accompany the Booker and which some consider part of its charm). Still, the Costa consistently comes up with solid winners, and its "first novel" category is good at "discovering" new writers. This year's winners across five categories are:Novel: Restless by William BoydFirst Novel: The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef PenneyChildren's Book: Set in Stone by Linda NewberyPoetry: Letter to Patience by John HaynesBiography: Keeping Mum: A Wartime Childhood by Brian Thompson
In the third year that the Booker Prize has been open to U.S. authors, five American authors again make the longlist, including National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Paul Beatty. Double winner J.M. Coetzee is the lone former winner on the list, while Elizabeth Strout is the most celebrated American to be tapped. Other notable names include A.L. Kennedy and David Means, and four debut novels made the list. All the Booker Prize longlisters are below (with bonus links where available): The Sellout by Paul Beatty (The Inanity of American Plutocracy: On Paul Beatty’s The Sellout) The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee Serious Sweet by A.L. Kennedy Hot Milk by Deborah Levy His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet The North Water by Ian McGuire Hystopia by David Means The Many by Wyl Menmuir Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh (Ottessa Moshfegh's Year in Reading) Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (Elizabeth Strout's Year in Reading, A Millions Top Ten book) All That Man Is by David Szalay Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
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Award season is in full swing now. The Booker was awarded yesterday, and the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature will be announced tomorrow or soon after, but today is all about the finalists for the National Book Award. As Ed remarked, in so many words, for the second year in a row, the judges have managed to deliver a crop of fiction finalists that satisfyingly occupy the sweet spot between obscurity and being, well, too obvious. On to the finalists in all categories, and, where available, excerpts from the books.Fiction:Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski - an excerpt of sortsA Disorder Peculiar to the Country by Ken Kalfus - excerptThe Echo Maker by Richard Powers - (very short) excerptEat the Document by Dana Spiotta - excerptThe Zero by Jess Walter - excerptNon-fiction:At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68 by Taylor Branch - excerptImperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran - excerpt 1, 2The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan - excerptOracle Bones: A Journey Between China's Past and Present by Peter Hessler - excerptThe Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright - excerptPoetry:Averno by Louise Gluck - poemChromatic by H.L. HixAngle of Yaw by Ben Lerner - poemsSplay Anthem by Nathaniel Mackey - poemCapacity by James McMichael - poemYoung People's Literature:The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson - excerptKeturah and Lord Death by Martine LeavittSold by Patricia McCormick - excerptThe Rules of Survival by Nancy WerlinAmerican Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang - pages
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Novelist Paul Beatty has won this year’s Man Booker Prize for The Sellout, becoming the first American writer to win the Prize. Our own Matt Seidel reviewed the book earlier this year, calling Beatty's voice "appealing, erudite, and entertaining"; you can trace those voice's antecedents in this great piece by Alcy Leyva. Revisit this year’s Booker Shortlist.
As many other book bloggers have noted, the illustrious Man Booker Prize longlist was announced today:The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash AwThe Sea by John BanvilleArthur & George by Julian BarnesA Long Long Way by Sebastian BarrySlow Man by JM CoetzeeIn the Fold by Rachel CuskNever Let Me Go by Kazuo IshiguroAll For Love by Dan JacobsonA Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina LewyckaBeyond Black by Hilary MantelSaturday by Ian McEwanThe People's Act of Love by James MeekShalimar the Clown by Salman RushdieThe Accidental by Ali SmithOn Beauty by Zadie SmithThis Thing of Darkness by Harry ThompsonThis is the Country by William WallWith four previous winners in the running, the longlist is being hailed as one of the best ever, and it looks like the story this year will be if any of the newcomers can surpass the bigger names. My early pick is the Ishiguro, but we'll see who the degenerate gamblers favor.As an aside, can I just say that the longlist/shortlist thing that the Brits do is the best way to run a literary prize. The longlist provides plenty of fodder for discussion as well as some insight into the judges' thinking. The controversy that surrounded last years National Book Award finalists would have been much dampened if that short list had been preceded by a longlist.See also: For complete Booker longlist coverage, visit the Literary Saloon.