A good week for new releases: John McPhee's new, more personal collection of essays, Silk Parachute, Sam Lipsyte's The Ask, and, of course, our own Sonya Chung's debut Long for This World. All three of these books were on our "Most Anticipated" list for 2010. New in paperback today is Colm Tóibín's Brooklyn.
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. Bonus Links: Earlier in the year we dove into both the Shortlist and the Longlist to share excerpts and reviews where available.
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Yet another open archive for your summer reading enjoyment: the Baffler ("the Journal that Blunts the Cutting Edge"), as part of a website redesign, has made available its entire back catalog of commentary and fiction. Might I suggest starting with this now-charmingly-antiquated piece on marketing to the youthful "hipster" generation? (The Paris Review has other suggestions. It's hard to go wrong.)
A recent survey of 19th century British literature uncovered advertising subtly placed within classic texts by authors like Dickens, Austen, and Thackeray. From Vanity Fair, for example: “‘My sisters say she has diamonds as big as pigeons' eggs,’ George said, laughing. ‘How they must set off her complexion! Surely she avails herself of Madame A.T. Rowley's Toilet Mask (or Face Gloves)...’” (via Book Bench)