Well-known established writers like Peter Carey and Andrea Levy and up and coming author Tom McCarthy made the 2010 Booker shortlist, while David Mitchell, probably the best-known name on the longlist, failed to make the cut. The longlist was offered here with some excerpts a month ago, but since you might not have gotten around to them then, we’ll offer the same with the shortlist below.
My moment in the Tournament of Books spotlight has come and gone, but I've enjoyed following the series throughout. It's been particularly interesting, from the perspective of a "judge," to see how the other judges have responded to the books I read.The Lazarus Project got surprisingly little ink during its run. I suspect that the book was something of a trendy pick for those following the Tournament. Aleksandar Hemon has a compelling back story and not long ago joined the elite ranks of young, literary superstardom like Jonathan Lethem, Edward P. Jones, George Saunders, and David Foster Wallace in winning a MacArthur "Genius" Grant. I had actually read The Lazarus Project last summer (and was all set to write a review then - I'm glad I held off), and I felt lukewarm about it at the time. In her first round judgment, Monica Ali noted "the narratives simultaneously unfolding and folding up on themselves," and that was what stood out to me much more in my second reading of the book. In rereading it, I caught more threads to the story, and the ending, even though I knew it was coming, hit me harder.But I still wasn't entirely won over. In his commentary on the first round match, John Warner pretty much hits the nail on the head, "I got the sense in reading that Hemon was also fascinated by the Averbuch story, but at some point became more interested in his own fascination than in Averbuch himself."For my match, meanwhile, Lazarus didn't merit much attention from the commentators. Instead the focus was on Shadow Country (which, like that other Frankenstein of the Tourney 2666) gave pause because of its heft and peculiar path to publication. As I was reading the book I was a bit thrown by that as well - Shadow Country is really three books, all previously published, cobbled back together and revamped by Peter Matthiessen. At times, it really did feel like three books smashed into one package, particularly, as I noted in my ToB piece, when I began the book's third part and, poised to read another retelling of Edgar Watson's life, I felt the whole thing growing a bit tiresome. Luckily, the third part of the book is stunning, and it ultimately won me over. In the end, I felt that the book stood well as a repackaged whole in that it heightened its obsessiveness and highlighted the complexity of Matthiessen's Watson. In the long book, the reader is given the opportunity to peel back layer after layer of Watson, until finally only Watson's own voice is left. This was where the book derived its power.Interestingly, though, it was the repackaging that was the main focus of the Shadow Country discussion during the ToB, and it was ultimately the cause for its departure. The two commentators were quite ambivalent about it. In his commentary on my judgment, John Warner posited a question: "I ask, rhetorically, if any of the sections of Shadow Country were in the tournament individually, would they have even sniffed the semis?" In the commentary on Junot Díaz's judgment, Warner writes "I don't think we'll be seeing any passionate blog postings or comments protesting the bouncing of Shadow Country from the tournament." Meanwhile Díaz bounced the book for the quite credible reason, in my opinion, that he had previously read the three original parts of Shadow Country. I know that for me, having already experienced the three parts of as discrete stories would have robbed Shadow Country of its weightiness and obsessive power. This seemed to be what happened for Díaz.It's rare that I get a chance to read along side other readers like this, and its hard to think when I might ever have the opportunity to write in this way alongside others about the same books, but it definitely added to my reading experience.
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Two of the four Americans on the Booker Longlist made it through to the Shortlist, Joshua Ferris and Karen Joy Fowler. They are joined by past winner Howard Jacobson, Australian Richard Flanagan, Indian Neel Mukherjee, and Ali Smith, who has landed on her third shortlist, a fact that may make her the favorite at this point. Big names like David Mitchell and Richard Powers failed to make the cut. All the Booker Prize shortlisters are below (with bonus links where available): To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris (excerpt, Ferris's Year in Reading 2009) The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (Khaled Hosseini on Karen Joy Fowler) J by Howard Jacobson The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee How to Be Both by Ali Smith (Wordsmith: The Beguiling Gifts of Ali Smith)
All sorts of madness is coming in March. Of course, there is the basketball sort, of which it appears my long beleaguered alma mater may finally be taking part (go Wahoos!)But more cogent to this blog and its readers, the literary world's more refined yet no less raucous brand of madness is on its way, The Morning News 2007 Tournament of Books. If you aren't familiar, here's how it works: the TMN editors pick a bunch of books from the past year or so and align them in a bracket, tournament style. However, instead of having these books hash it out on a basketball court, which wouldn't make much sense, TMN assigns each pair of books to a prominent blogger or reviewer or literary type, who then picks which one goes through to the next round.Why does TMN do this? Well, tournament commissioner Kevin Guilfoile explains it thusly in this year's introductory essay:Exchanging emails with the TMN editors after a few glasses of Argentinean Malbec, we each confessed that we're attracted to the sexiness of book awards despite the fact that book awards are also arbitrary and stupid.And so the Tourney was born. Just like with that other tournament, the brackets aren't out yet, but several candidates have been named, among them a few books that have been reviewed here at The Millions, including Against the Day, which was reviewed by Garth, The Lay of the Land, which was reviewed by Noah, and Kate Atkinson's One Good Turn, which I wrote about a few months back.Also, at the bottom of that introductory essay, readers can vote to pick which books should be included in the "Readers' Favorites round."
Last month, we unveiled the longlists for the Best Translated Book Awards (BTBA), an award founded by Three Percent that comes with a $5,000 prize for author and translator alike. Below, behold the finalists. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in New York and at The Millions on May 4. For more information on the award, its history, the judges, etc., please visit the official Best Translated Book Award site and the official BTBA Facebook page, and follow the award on Twitter. Best Translated Book Award 2017: Fiction Finalists Wicked Weeds by Pedro Cabiya, translated from the Spanish by Jessica Powell (Dominican Republic, Mandel Vilar Press) Chronicle of the Murdered House by Lúcio Cardoso, translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa and Robin Patterson (Brazil, Open Letter Books) Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi, translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman (Mauritius, Deep Vellum) Zama by Antonio di Benedetto, translated from the Spanish by Esther Allen (Argentina, New York Review Books) Doomi Golo by Boubacar Boris Diop, translated from the Wolof by Vera Wülfing-Leckie and El Hadji Moustapha Diop (Senegal, Michigan State University Press) War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans, translated from the Dutch by David McKay (Belgium, Pantheon) Umami by Laia Jufresa, translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes (Mexico, Oneworld) Oblivion by Sergi Lebedev, translated from the Russian by Antonina W. Bouis (Russia, New Vessel Press) Ladivine by Marie NDiaye, translated from the French by Jordan Stump (France, Knopf) Among Strange Victims by Daniel Saldaña Paris, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney (Mexico, Coffee House Press) Best Translated Book Award 2017: Poetry Finalists Berlin-Hamlet by Szilárd Borbély, translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet (Hungary, New York Review Books) Of Things by Michael Donhauser, translated from the German by Nick Hoff and Andrew Joron (Austria, Burning Deck Press) Cheer Up, Femme Fatale by Yideum Kim, translated from the Korean by Ji Yoon Lee, Don Mee Choi, and Johannes Göransson (South Korea, Action Books) In Praise of Defeat by Abdellatif Laâbi, translated from the French by Donald Nicholson-Smith (Morocco, Archipelago Books) Extracting the Stone of Madness by Alejandra Pizarnik, translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert (Argentina, New Directions) (read our review)
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