By now you’ve read the result, Toni Morrison’s A Mercy edged out Tom Piazza’s City of Refuge to win The Tournament of Books. Now, if I were a betting man, and it were possible to bet on the Pulitzer winner, I’d bet on A Mercy. Why? The Tournament of Books has called the Pulitzer winner the last two years running. In 2008, Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao took home the Pulitzer on the heels of the Rooster. And in 2007, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road saw its Pulitzer win presaged by not just a Rooster, but also its unlikely companion, an Oprah’s book club pick. On April 20th, we’ll see if the Rooster still has the jump on America’s oldest literary prize.
The winners of the National Book Critics Circle Award have been 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: Fiction: Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ben Fountain’s Year in Reading, The Millions interview) Nonfiction: Andrew Solomon, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity (Staff Pick, excerpt [pdf]) Autobiography: Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies (The Millions review) Criticism: Marina Warner, Stranger Magic Biography: Robert Caro, The Passage of Power (The Millions review) Poetry: D.A. Powell, Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (Poet reading [video]) Previously: The finalists
It'll be in tomorrow's papers and on most Web sites tonight at midnight but a couple of foreign papers have posted their stories early: Jonathan Lethem has been awarded a genius grant worth $500,000. I'll update this post tomorrow with more details once all the winners are officially announced.Update: Well. Not much to report. Usually there's three or four literary-related Macarthur Fellows, but this year there are just two, Terry Belanger, a rare book preservationist from the University of Virginia, and Lethem. Here's the only Lethem quote about his windfall that I could find so far (from the NY Daily News): "'You probably ought to check in with me in six months,' he said. 'I think I can safely say it's going to give me a lot of the security and freedom that any artist craves.'" I'm sure that he will be compelled to discuss his plans at length sooner than that, and I'm sure other folks will be weighing in on the meaning of this honor for Lethem soon enough, as well.
The finalists for the annual National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Award have been announced, offering up the customary shortlists of great fiction and nonfiction. In addition, the John Leonard Prize for best debut novel was awarded to Yaa Gyasi for Homegoing; the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing went to Michelle Dean (check out her 2016 Year in Reading); and Margaret Atwood took home the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. The NBCC Award will be presented March 17 in a public ceremony. Fiction Michael Chabon, Moonglow (our interview with Chabon) Louise Erdrich, LaRose Adam Haslett, Imagine Me Gone Ann Patchett, Commonwealth Zadie Smith, Swing Time (the author's Year in Reading; our review) Nonfiction Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Lisa Lucas and Imbolo Mbue on the book) Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive Idea of Racist History of Racist Ideas in America Jane Mayer, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires behind the Rise of the Radical Right Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (edited by our own Zoë Ruiz!) John Edgar Wideman, Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File
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The Booker longlist was announced yesterday. Going over the list, I noted that it didn't seem very multi-cultural. One of the interesting things about the Booker is that any author from the Commonwealth of Nations or from Ireland is eligible. This means that any of 54 countries might send a writer to Booker glory. This year, however, the judging committee is keeping things geographically constrained, with only three countries represented among the 13 finalists:England, 9 (Byatt, Foulds, Harvey, Lever, Mantel, Hall, Mawer, Scudamore, Waters)Ireland, 3 (O'Loughlin, Toibin, Trevor)South Africa, 1 (Coetzee)Moving on to less serious matters, the Booker betting odds are now out (and subject to change as punters put their money on the line). The bookmakers like Toibin and Waters to win, but James Lever is putting in an impressive showing with his mock memoir of a chimp.4/1 Colm Toibin - Brooklyn4/1 Sarah Waters - The Little Stranger5/1 Hilary Mantel - Wolf Hall6/1 J.M. Coetzee - Summertime8/1 James Lever - Me Cheeta10/1 A.S. Byatt - The Children's Book12/1 William Trevor - Love and Summer14/1 Ed O'Loughlin - Not Untrue and Not Unkind14/1 Simon Mawer - The Glass Room16/1 James Scudamore - Heliopolis16/1 Adam Foulds - The Quickening Maze16/1 Sarah Hall - How to Paint a Dead Man16/1 Samantha Harvey - The Wilderness