Prizes

NBCC Winners – With Excerpts

The National Book Critics Circle winners have been announced. The big winner, of course, is Kiran Desai who follows up her Booker win with another big prize for her mantle. Here they are, with excerpts:Fiction: The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai - excerptNon-Fiction: Rough Crossings by Simon Schama - excerptAutobiography: The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn - excerptBiography: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips - excerptPoetry: Tom Thomson In Purgatory by Troy Jollimore - poemCriticism: Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences by Lawrence Weschler - excerptSee also: More details at the NBCC blog.
Prizes

The Madness Approaches

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."
Prizes

Book Critics’ Nominees Unveiled

The National Book Critics Circle announced the nominees for its annual best of the year awards over the weekend. Ed has stepped up to call the fiction selections in particular "safer than a dinner for four at the Olive Garden." The relative safety of the books aside, my understanding was that this award was meant to be given to the books that the nation's critics believe are of the highest quality, regardless of how well known or how obscure they are.While it might have been more interesting to for us to discuss five relatively unknown and incredibly challenging novels, I think that such a slate would have been intellectually dishonest when the critics are charged with picking the books they think are the best. Let us not forget 2004, when the five National Book Award nominees in fiction were basically unknowns across the board. The people behind the Award that year were roundly derided for their selections and those nominees were anything but safe. In that case, and in looking at this year's NBCC nominees, I would suggest that we debate the books' quality rather than whether they are too "predictable," which strikes me as an even more slippery qualifier.For more on how the NBCC makes its picks, check out TEV's interview with NBCC president John Freeman. Here are this year's nominees in fiction and nonfiction along with excerpts where available (nominees in other categories can be found at the NBCC site):Fiction:Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (excerpt, an Emerging Writers best of the year)The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (excerpt)What is the What by Dave Eggers (excerpt, Garth's review)The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (excerpt, Noah's review)The Road by Cormac McCarthyNonfiction:The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq by Patrick Cockburn (One of Cockburn's Iraq diaries in the LRB)The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe V. Wade by Anne Fessler (NYT review)The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan (Patrick's review)Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution by Simon Schama (excerpt)The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan (excerpt)
Prizes

Costa (Whitbread) Goes to Boyd

This year's Costa (renamed from the Whitbread thanks to a change in sponsorship) Award winners have been named in several categories. The prize typically plays second fiddle to the heavyweight Booker, but some might appreciate its refreshing lack of fanfare, drama, and controversy (which seem to accompany the Booker and which some consider part of its charm). Still, the Costa consistently comes up with solid winners, and its "first novel" category is good at "discovering" new writers. This year's winners across five categories are:Novel: Restless by William BoydFirst Novel: The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef PenneyChildren's Book: Set in Stone by Linda NewberyPoetry: Letter to Patience by John HaynesBiography: Keeping Mum: A Wartime Childhood by Brian Thompson
Prizes

National Book Award Winners Announced

The winners of the 2006 National Book Awards have been announced. A year after William T. Vollmann won the fiction award it has gone to Richard Powers for The Echo Maker (excerpt), marking a shift in focus (though perhaps not yet a "trend") toward honoring some of the names on the leading edge of American fiction. The New York Times, in its writeup, mentions that "as in recent years, the fiction category raised eyebrows in the publishing industry for its lack of commercially known nominees in a year of big-name authors," but I don't recall hearing much rumbling about the nominees. If anything, as I wrote when the nominees were announced, this year's nominees "satisfyingly occupy the sweet spot between obscurity and being, well, too obvious." And if one looks at the bodies of work of the five nominees, as well as their literary reputations, Powers was certainly deserving of this plaudit. Judging on his book alone, from what I've heard, he is a worthy winner, as well.In nonfiction, the award went to Timothy Egan for The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl (excerpt) taking on a very important topic in American history that hasn't gotten much attention from the writers of popular history. The Young People's Literature award was given to M.T. Anderson for The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume One: The Pox Party (excerpt), sparing us the possibility of an angry backlash against those darn graphic novels. And for Poetry, the award was given to Nathaniel Mackey for Splay Anthem (poem).
Prizes

IMPAC Award Longlist Madness

Of all the many literary awards out there, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is the most egalitarian, international, and exhaustive in scope. This year, 169 libraries in 45 countries nominated 138 novels. All of the books must have been published in English or in translation in 2005. Libraries can nominate up to three books each. Taken as a whole, the literary proclivities of various countries become evident, and a few titles recur again and again, revealing which books have made a global impact on readers. Here are this year's highlightsOverall favorites: books that were nominated by at least five libraries.Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (one in Canada and five in the US)Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden (all six in Canada)Saturday by Ian McEwan (one each in England, Germany, Greece, New Zealand and Russia)The Accidental by Ali Smith (one each in Belgium, Brazil, England, Ireland and Scotland)The Kreutzer Sonata by Margriet De Moor (all five in The Netherlands)The Sea by John Banville (two in Ireland and one each in the US, Hungary and Czech Republic)You can also look at the list and see which books are favorites in different countries. Aside from Three Day Road in Canada and The Kreutzer Sonata in The Netherlands, several books were nominated by multiple libraries in the same country. Here's a few:In South Africa, Gem Squash Tokoloshe by Rachel ZadokIn New Zealand, Blindsight by Maurice GeeIn the US, Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala and March by Geraldine BrooksIn Australia, The Secret River by Kate GrenvilleThere were also several countries with only one library nominating just one book. Here are a few of those:From Pakistan, Broken Verses by Kamila ShamsieFrom Malaysia, The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash AwFrom Spain, Cold Skin by Albert Sanchez PinolFrom Suriname, Circle of Love by Soecy GummelsThe shortlist will be announced on April 4, 2007 and the winner on June 14, 2007.
Prizes

Orhan Pamuk Wins Nobel Prize

It's official. Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. As the Lit Saloon had noted, Pamuk had fallen somewhat out of favor with the oddsmakers leading up to the announcement, though he has been considered a likely winner for years. Pamuk is perhaps best known in recent years for being accused by Turkish courts of insulting "Turkishness" based on comments he made in interviews. Those charges were later dropped, but not until after his case became a cause celeb for free speech around the world.Pamuk's most popular novels are probably My Name is Red and Snow. His most recently translated book is Istanbul, a portrait of his home city. Istanbul, of course, figures prominently into many of Pamuk's books. As the Nobel Foundation put it, he is a writer "who, in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city, has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures."
Prizes

National Book Award Finalists Announced

Award season is in full swing now. The Booker was awarded yesterday, and the winner of the Nobel Prize for literature will be announced tomorrow or soon after, but today is all about the finalists for the National Book Award. As Ed remarked, in so many words, for the second year in a row, the judges have managed to deliver a crop of fiction finalists that satisfyingly occupy the sweet spot between obscurity and being, well, too obvious. On to the finalists in all categories, and, where available, excerpts from the books.Fiction:Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski - an excerpt of sortsA Disorder Peculiar to the Country by Ken Kalfus - excerptThe Echo Maker by Richard Powers - (very short) excerptEat the Document by Dana Spiotta - excerptThe Zero by Jess Walter - excerptNon-fiction:At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68 by Taylor Branch - excerptImperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran - excerpt 1, 2The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan - excerptOracle Bones: A Journey Between China's Past and Present by Peter Hessler - excerptThe Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright - excerptPoetry:Averno by Louise Gluck - poemChromatic by H.L. HixAngle of Yaw by Ben Lerner - poemsSplay Anthem by Nathaniel Mackey - poemCapacity by James McMichael - poemYoung People's Literature:The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson - excerptKeturah and Lord Death by Martine LeavittSold by Patricia McCormick - excerptThe Rules of Survival by Nancy WerlinAmerican Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang - pages
Prizes

Kiran Desai Wins Booker Prize

Kiran Desai has won the Booker for her novel The Inheritance of Loss. The Guardian's coverage has lots of interesting details. At 37 (or perhaps 35, according to the Booker site), Desai is the youngest woman to win the prize. Her mother, Anita Desai, a novelist to whom Kiran's book was dedicated, has been shortlisted for the Booker three times. With all the new talent in this year's shortlist the Guardian also wonders "The question left by the contest is whether new talent is in danger of being overmarketed and overexposed too soon."An excerpt from the book's opening is available for the curious. It begins: All day, the colors had been those of dusk, mist moving like a water creature across the great flanks of mountains possessed of ocean shadows and depths. Briefly visible above the vapor, Kanchenjunga was a far peak whittled out of ice, gathering the last of the light, a plume of snow blown high by the storms at its summit.Related: The shortlist and excerpts and the longlist.
Prizes

2006 Lettre Ulysses Winner

A couple of months ago I posted about the longlist for the Lettre Ulysses Award, a prize that is given to the best book-length reporting. They have since announced the winner and runners-up, and this year the award went to The People on the Street: A Writer's View of Israel by Linda Grant. Her book is a ground level view of life in Israel, placing it in counterpoint to the scads of books that look at the region from 35,000 feet. In an excerpt, we read about the reaction on the street in Tel Aviv when people found out that Saddam had been captured.