Kirkus Reviews is launching a new literary prize this year with a hefty purse and an even more eye-catching process. Instead of relying on publishers or judges for a longlist, they’ll automatically nominate any book that wins a Kirkus Star—about 10 percent of those reviewed—and award three annual prizes of $50,000 to the best fiction, nonfiction, and young readers’ literature. But the big news is that self-published books will also be eligible.
"This test protocol was designed so X-ray operators could have a clearer view of carry-on baggage at checkpoints. Like many tests TSA performs at checkpoints around the country, we collected valuable data but, at this time, are no longer testing or instituting these procedures." Inside Higher Ed reports that the U.S. Transportation Security Administration has abandoned a program that required passengers to remove books from their carry-on luggage during security screenings. And we have just the reading recommendations for flying for you, too.
"In creative writing, I teach that characters arise out of our need for them. By now, the person I created in New York was the only one I wanted to be. ...Eight years after reaching the end of myself, I was on borrowed time. Whether it was in a plane or a coffin, I knew I had to get out of Jamaica." Marlon James, author of The Book of Night Women, which once gave me so much trouble, and whose novel A Brief History of Seven Killings the Book Report covered here, writes for the New York Times Magazine about leaving Jamaica to find himself in Minnesota.
Our own Emily St. John Mandel guest judged Electric Literature's Critical Hit Awards this month. She discussed what she looks for in a book review in an interview with Brian Hurley. "I prefer reviews that go beyond talking about literature, so that the book under review is considered in the context of the surrounding world," she said. The winners are Andrew Winer's review of The Kraus Project by Jonathan Franzen, Rachel Monroe's review of The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins by Brenda Stevenson, and our own review of Karen Green's Bough Down by Suzanne Scanlon.
Just when you thought we'd covered every aspect of the story of self-publishing, something like this happens. A Canadian serial killer convicted of killing six women and charged in the deaths of another twenty has self-published a memoir on Amazon in which he maintains his innocence. The papers were allegedly smuggled out of the prison by another inmate and published by a self-publishing service under a pseudonym. Amazon has since discontinued sales of the book.
This month the Cleveland International Film Festival will show Dear Mr. Watterson, a film exploring “how … a simple comic strip became so meaningful to such a massive and diverse group of people.” Yet despite the subject matter, the actual author of the Calvin and Hobbes series will almost certainly be absent from the screenings. Over at Full Stop, Liv Combe looks at the ways Bill Watterson is “keeping the idea of the private public figure alive.”
This is a fantastic piece on W. H. Auden, "The Murder of Lidice", and the importance of the ideological and political contexts of war. Joanna Bourke writes, "the flood of poems [after the Lidice massacre] actually served to draw attention away from the people of Lidice and towards the swollen sensibilities of the poets and their readers."