Black Country, the debut book of poetry by Liz Berry, won this year’s Forward prize for best first collection. At The Guardian, Ben Wilkinson writes about the ways in which the book “digs deep into the poet’s West Midlands roots, enlivening and reimagining the heritage of that eponymous heartland of iron foundries, coal mines and steel mills, on both personal and public footings.”
W.W. Norton puts together a project similar to our Year in Reading (and with some participants in common): Writers Recommend.Another clever batch of recommendations: Village Voice asks several notables to recommend their favorite “obscure” books.Three Percent reveals its 25-book longlist for the “Best Translated Book of 2008” (Bonus Link: The Prizewinners: International Edition)A conversation with South African poet and anti-apartheid activist Breyten BreytenbachTodd Zuniga’s (of Opium Magazine and Literary Death Match) “favorite writers we haven’t heard of yet.”Best book cover designs of the year. (via 3% and kottke)Maud reproduces the memo behind the huge reorganization at Random House (which itself is just one part of the belt tightening hitting the publishing industry in recent weeks.)
“Most of us can’t write like our heroes, but nearly every one of us can try to drink like them.” Ian Crouch examines the myth of the great alcoholic writer and Charles Jackson’s The Lost Weekend in The New Yorker‘s “The Book That Will Make You Never Want to Drink Again.”
“Ms. Hazzard’s fiction is dense with meaning, subtle in implication and tense in plot, often with disaster looming: A shipwreck tears away the parents of tiny children. A man who has waited a lifetime for a woman loses her at the last moment.” Novelist Shirley Hazzard, whose several books – including The Transit of Venus and the National Book Award-winning The Great Fire – received much acclaim, has died at 85, reports The New York Times. Also worth reading, her “Art of Fiction” interview with The Paris Review from 2005.
Boston Review’s Aura Estrada Short Story Contest is underway. This year’s submissions will be judged by What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank author (as well as Year in Reading contributor) Nathan Englander, and the victor will earn a $1,500 prize as well as publication.