Prizes

2016 National Book Award Winners Announced

The 2016 National Book Award winners were announced tonight in New York City. The big prize for Fiction went to Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. The #1 bestseller has drawn praise from both Obama and Oprah, and in his review for our site, Greg Walkin noted how "Whitehead’s brilliance is on constant display" throughout: After five previous novels, each very different, this is the only thing we can count on. It’s hard to imagine a new novel farther from Whitehead’s last, the zombie thriller Zone One. The Underground Railroad shares some features with his debut work, The Intuitionist, and his second novel, John Henry Days; both novels confront issues of race and American history through less-than-straightforward methods — a Whitehead signature. The Nonfiction award went to Ibram X. Kendi for Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. The Poetry award was won by Daniel Borzutzky for The Performance of Becoming Human. The winners in the Young People's Literature category were John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell for March: Book Three. See our review of Book One in the series.   Bonus Links: Earlier in the year we dove into both the Shortlist and the Longlist to share excerpts and reviews where available.
Prizes

Paul Beatty Wins the 2016 Man Booker Prize

Novelist Paul Beatty has won this year’s Man Booker Prize for The Sellout, becoming the first American writer to win the Prize. Our own Matt Seidel reviewed the book earlier this year, calling Beatty's voice "appealing, erudite, and entertaining"; you can trace those voice's antecedents in this great piece by Alcy Leyva. Revisit this year’s Booker Shortlist.
Prizes

Bob Dylan is the Surprise Winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature

For years, Bob Dylan has been considered a longshot contender for the Nobel Prize. Nobel watchers have not taken the possibility of a Dylan win seriously, not because he isn't a legendary talent, but because giving him the prize would be so out of character for a committee that has so often used the Nobel to bring a regional master to a global audience. A case can and certainly will be made that Dylan is as deserving as any other for something as arbitrary as a literary prize, but there is some disappointment in not bringing a lesser known talent to worldwide acclaim, let alone one whose primary medium is books. That said, as far as rock memoirs go, Dylan's Chronicles is considered perhaps the best of the genre. The book is meant to be the first in a trilogy but there has been little in the way of firm news as to when the second and third volumes might appear. In 2012, Dylan told Rolling Stone, "Let's hope [it happens]." Certainly, however, the committee did not have Chronicles in mind when it gave Dylan the prize. A new edition of Dylan's collected lyrics is set to be released within the next month. In 2009, in these pages, Andrew Saikali made a strong case. Whole books have been written, whole careers launched, with discussion of the lyrics of Bob Dylan. But reading Bob Dylan and listening to Bob Dylan are two completely different experiences. And it’s his melodies, vocal phrasing and musical arrangements that lift these masterful words off the page, animating them, haunting them, imbuing them with mystery. In 2010, Jim Santel explored the suddenly popular rock memoir genre, setting aside Chronicles as an exception "among the most persistently disappointing of literary subgenres." In 2011, Buzz Poole reflected on Dylan's 70th birthday: "Lurking in everything Dylan has ever done, for better or worse, is the myth of America, its chameleon-like quality to be everything to everybody its greatest asset, permitting openness, not for the sake of change but because of its necessity."
Prizes

2016 National Book Award Finalists Announced

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Book award season enters high gear as the National Book Award finalists have been released. Winners will be announced in New York City on November 16. The short list includes the big fall book by Colson Whitehead and Jacqueline Woodson's first novel for adults in 20 years. It's a great time to be a reader. You read about nearly all of the books on the Fiction list here first, of course, as they appeared in our indispensable first-half and second-half previews. Here’s a list of the finalists in all four categories with bonus links and excerpts where available: Fiction: The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder ("Men in Tights Crammed into Confined Spaces") News of the World by Paulette Jiles (excerpt (pdf)) The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan (I Want Complete Freedom When I Write: The Millions Interviews Karan Mahajan) The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead ("Scars That Never Fade") Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (A Most Anticipated book) Nonfiction: Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild (Most Anticipated) Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (excerpt) Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Viet Thanh Nguyen's Year in Reading) The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andrés Reséndez (excerpt) Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson (Most Anticipated) Poetry: The Performance of Becoming Human by Daniel Borzutzky Collected Poems 1974–2004 by Rita Dove (Race and American Poetry: Dove v. Vendler) Archeophonics by Peter Gizzi (Peter Gizzi on J.H. Prynne) The Abridged History of Rainfall by Jay Hopler (poem) Look by Solmaz Sharif (the title poem) Young People's Literature: Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (Susan Orlean on Kate DiCamillo) March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell (our review of Book One in the series) When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin (excerpt) Ghost by Jason Reynolds The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Prizes

2016’s Literary Geniuses

This year's "Genius grant" winners have been announced. The MacArthur grant awards $625,000 “no strings attached” to “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” Alongside scientists, artists and scholars are some newly minted geniuses with a literary focus. This year’s literary geniuses are: Maggie Nelson is known best for her non-fiction. Often described as some combination of "lyrical" and "philosophical," Nelson's five book-length works of nonfiction have won her a steadfast following. She might be described as a "writer's writer." The evidence is in how often her books are named by other writers in our annual Year in Reading series. Bluets, a meditation on the color blue, won praise from David Shields ("utterly brilliant"), Stephen Elliott ("excellent"), Haley Mlotek ("I read Bluets twice in the same plane ride."), Leslie Jamison, Jaquira Díaz, and Margaret Eby. Meaghan O'Connell wrote of Nelson, "She is one of those people for me, writers who I want to cross all boundaries with, writers from whom I ask too much. She makes me want more than, as a reader, I deserve. She already gives us more than we deserve. It isn’t fair." Many of the above writers also praised Nelson's more recent The Argonauts, "a genre-bending memoir," as did Bijan Stephen, Olivia Laing ("It thinks deeply and with immense nuance and grace"), Karolina Waclawiak ("I found myself underlining on nearly every page"), and Parul Sehgal. Nelson herself appeared in our Year in Reading last year, shining light on books by Eileen Myles and Ellen Miller, among others. Claudia Rankine, poet, has received especially wide acclaim for her "provocative meditation on race" Citizen: An American Lyric, a book that (perhaps along with Between the World and Me by last year's "Genius" Ta-Nehisi Coates) that can be pointed to as a literary catalyst. Many may have first become aware of Rankine earlier this year, when her book -- wielded as an object of protest -- was caught by cameras behind a ranting Donald Trump at one of his rallies. MacArthur rightly describes Rankine as "a critical voice in current conversations about racial violence." Ed Simon named Citizen this moment's best candidate in his search for America's great epic poem. In its announcement, MacArthur says artist and writer Lauren Redniss "is an artist and writer seamlessly integrating artwork, written text, and design elements in works of visual nonfiction. Redniss undertakes archival research, interviews and reportage, and field expeditions to inform every aspect of a book’s creation, from its text, to its format and page layout, to the design of the typeface, to the printing and drawing techniques used for the artwork." Redniss is probably best-known for 2011 National Book Award finalist Radioactive, a vibrantly illustrated biography of pioneering scientists Marie and Pierre Curie. Our own Hannah Gersen described it as "elaborately beautiful." Gene Luen Yang has smashed stereotypes with his vibrant graphic novels, American Born Chinese, The Eternal Smile (with Derek Kirk Kim), and Boxers & Saints. Our 2010 interview with Yang explored his influences and his work. The lone playwright to be named a "genius" this year is Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. "Many of Jacobs-Jenkins’s plays use a historical lens to satirize and comment on modern culture, particularly the ways in which race and class are negotiated in both private and public settings." Sarah Stillman has become a byline to look for in The New Yorker, carrying out journalistic investigations that have raised public outrage and spurred recalcitrant politicians into action. "Taken" is perhaps her best-known article. It investigates how local police forces have used the principal of "civil asset forfeiture" to plunder citizens and enrich themselves.
Prizes

2016 National Book Award Longlists Unveiled

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Book award season enters high gear as the National Book Award finalists have been released in a series of four longlists consisting of ten books apiece. Five finalists in each category will be announced on October 13, and winners will be announced in New York City on November 16. The fiction list seems well balanced but also includes many familiar names. Alongside highly touted books by Colson Whitehead and Garth Greenwell are critical darlings like Lydia Millet and Karan Mahajan. It's a great time to be a reader. You read about nearly all of the books on the Fiction longlist here first, of course, as they appeared in our indispensable first-half and second-half previews. Here’s a list of the finalists in all four categories with bonus links and excerpts where available: Fiction: The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder ("Men in Tights Crammed into Confined Spaces") What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell ("ISO the Next Great Gay Novel") Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett (A Most Anticipated book) News of the World by Paulette Jiles (excerpt (pdf)) The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan (I Want Complete Freedom When I Write: The Millions Interviews Karan Mahajan) The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie (excerpt) Sweet Lamb of Heaven by Lydia Millet (Lydia Millet, writing at The Millions) Miss Jane by Brad Watson (Brad Watson's Year in Reading) The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead ("Scars That Never Fade") Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (A Most Anticipated book) Nonfiction: America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History by Andrew J. Bacevich (excerpt) The Firebrand and the First Lady, Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Struggle for Social Justice by Patricia Bell-Scott (excerpt) Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck by Adam Cohen (interview) Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild (Most Anticipated) Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (excerpt) Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Viet Thanh Nguyen's Year in Reading) Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil (Most Anticipated) The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andrés Reséndez (excerpt) The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition by Manisha Sinha (interview) Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson (Most Anticipated) Poetry: The Performance of Becoming Human by Daniel Borzutzky Collected Poems 1974–2004 by Rita Dove (Race and American Poetry: Dove v. Vendler) Archeophonics by Peter Gizzi (Peter Gizzi on J.H. Prynne) The Selected Poems of Donald Hall by Donald Hall (Sonya Chung on Donald Hall) The Abridged History of Rainfall by Jay Hopler (poem) Bestiary by Donika Kelly (poem) World of Made and Unmade by Jane Mead Look by Solmaz Sharif (the title poem) Blackacre by Monica Youn (Siobhan Phillips on Monica Youn) Blue Laws by Kevin Young (poem) Young People's Literature: Booked by Kwame Alexander (excerpt) Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (Susan Orlean on Kate DiCamillo) March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell (our review of Book One in the series) When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin (excerpt) When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore (excerpt) Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina (excerpt(pdf)) Pax by Sara Pennypacker and Jon Klassen Ghost by Jason Reynolds Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story by Caren Stelson (excerpt) The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Prizes

Booker Prize Offers Up Eclectic 2016 Shortlist

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The Booker Prize has whittled down its longlist to an intriguing shortlist, and none of the authors tapped has previously won the Prize. As was the case in prior years, two Americans make the shortlist this year: Paul Beatty and Ottessa Moshfegh. They are joined by the UK's Graeme Macrae Burnet and Deborah Levy, and Canadians David Szalay and Madeleine Thien. The bookies suggest that Levy, the only author remaining to have previously landed on a shortlist, is the favorite to win. All the Booker Prize shortlisters are below (with bonus links where available): The Sellout by Paul Beatty (The Inanity of American Plutocracy: On Paul Beatty’s The Sellout) Hot Milk by Deborah Levy His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh (Ottessa Moshfegh's Year in Reading) All That Man Is by David Szalay Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
Prizes

The Booker’s Dozen: The 2016 Booker Longlist

In the third year that the Booker Prize has been open to U.S. authors, five American authors again make the longlist, including National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Paul Beatty. Double winner J.M. Coetzee is the lone former winner on the list, while Elizabeth Strout is the most celebrated American to be tapped. Other notable names include A.L. Kennedy and David Means, and four debut novels made the list. All the Booker Prize longlisters are below (with bonus links where available): The Sellout by Paul Beatty (The Inanity of American Plutocracy: On Paul Beatty’s The Sellout) The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee Serious Sweet by A.L. Kennedy Hot Milk by Deborah Levy His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet The North Water by Ian McGuire Hystopia by David Means The Many by Wyl Menmuir Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh (Ottessa Moshfegh's Year in Reading) Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (Elizabeth Strout's Year in Reading, A Millions Top Ten book) All That Man Is by David Szalay Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
Prizes

And the Winners of the Best Translated Book Awards Are…

Announced simultaneously here and at The Folly in New York City, the winners for this year’s Best Translated Book Awards are Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman, for fiction, and Angélica Freitas’s Rilke Shake, translated from the Portuguese by Hilary Kaplan, for poetry. This is the ninth iteration of the BTBA and the fifth in which the four winning authors and translators will receive $5,000 cash prizes thanks to funding from the Amazon Literary Partnership program. With Rilke Shake taking home the poetry award, Phoneme Media becomes the first press to win for poetry in back-to-back years. (Diorama by Rocío Cerón, translated from the Spanish by Anna Rosenwong, won last year). Hilary Kaplan also received a PEN/Heim Translation Award to work on this collection. According to Tess Lewis, BTBA judge and author of the “Why This Book Should Win” piece at Three Percent, “[Kaplan] has done the grant and Freitas’s poems justice, capturing the many shifts in tone in and between the lines, from playful to wry to sardonic to pathetic, even sentimental, to deadpan and back to playful, sometimes within a single poem. For all of Freitas’s lyric clowning, it’s clear she takes poetry too seriously not to dismantle it and use it to her own purposes.” Yuri Herrera is the first Spanish-language writer to win the award for fiction. According to "Why This Book Should Win" piece by bookseller (and former BTBA judge) Stephen Sparks, “Signs Preceding the End of the World tells the story of a young switchboard operator’s harrowing attempt to cross a border between worlds -- Mexico and the United States, but also between reality and myth, between the living and the dead, between any here and distant there -- in search of her brother, who like uncountable others before him has gone north to seek out a better life.” Lisa Dillman has translated almost a dozen books over the past few years, including works by Andrés Barba and Eduardo Halfon, and teaches Spanish at Emory College. Her translation of Herrera’s next novel, The Transmigration of Bodies (also published by And Other Stories), comes out in July. Next week during BookExpo America, 57th Street Books in Chicago will be hosting a BTBA party from 5 to - 6:30 pm at the store. The event -- which will feature a number of BTBA judges -- is free and open to the public. As always, the judges deserve a round of congratulations for all their hard work, reading dozens of titles and choosing these worthy books. This year’s fiction jury is made up of: Amanda Bullock (Literary Arts, Portland), Heather Cleary, translator from the Spanish, co-founder of the Buenos Aires Review), Kevin Elliott (57th Street Books), Kate Garber (192 Books), Jason Grunebaum (translator, writer), Mark Haber (writer, Brazos Bookstore), Stacey Knecht (translator), Amanda Nelson (Book Riot), and P.T. Smith (writer and reader). And this year’s poetry jury is made up of: Jarrod Annis (Greenlight Bookstore), Katrine Øgaard Jensen (Council for European Studies), Tess Lewis (writer and translator), Becka McKay (writer, translator), and Deborah Smith (writer, translator, founder of Tilted Axis). For more information, visit the official Best Translated Book Award site and the official BTBA Facebook page, and follow the award on Twitter.  
Prizes

And the Finalists for the Best Translated Book Awards Are…

We’re very proud to announce the finalists for this year’s Best Translated Book Awards here on The Millions. This is the ninth iteration of the awards, which have honored a variety of books and authors over the years, including Can Xue (who won in 2015 for The Last Lover) and László Krasznahorkai (the only two-time winner for Satantango and Seiobo There Below). On the poetry side of things, past winners include Rocío Cerón (Diorama), Elisa Biagini (The Guest in the Wood), and Kiwao Nomura (Spectacle & Pigsty), among others. Five years ago, Amazon started underwriting the awards through their Literary Partnership program, providing $20,000 in cash prizes every year, which is split up equally between the winning authors and translators. After this year’s awards have been granted, the Best Translated Book Awards will have given out $100,000 to international authors and translators. This year’s winners will be announced on Wednesday, May 4th at 7pm sharp, both online at Three Percent and live in person at The Folly (92 W. Houston St. in Manhattan). If you’re in the New York City area, please feel free to stop by. The event is open to the public. More information about the awards, the finalists, and the celebrations can be found at the Three Percent. First off, here are the 10 fiction finalists: A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn (Angola, Archipelago Books) Arvida by Samuel Archibald, translated from the French by Donald Winkler (Canada, Biblioasis) The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein (Italy, Europa Editions) The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov, translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel (Bulgaria, Open Letter) Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman (Mexico, And Other Stories) Moods by Yoel Hoffmann, translated from the Hebrew by Peter Cole (Israel, New Directions) The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector, translated from the Portuguese by Katrina Dodson (Brazil, New Directions) The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney (Mexico, Coffee House Press) War, So Much War by Mercè Rodoreda, translated from the Catalan by Maruxa Relaño and Martha Tennent (Spain, Open Letter) Murder Most Serene by Gabrielle Wittkop, translated from the French by Louise Rogers Lalaurie (France, Wakefield Press) This year’s fiction judges are: Amanda Bullock (Literary Arts, Portland), Heather Cleary (translator from the Spanish, co-founder of the Buenos Aires Review), Kevin Elliott (57th Street Books), Kate Garber (192 Books), Jason Grunebaum (translator from the Hindi, writer), Mark Haber (writer, Brazos Bookstore), Stacey Knecht (translator from Czech and Dutch), Amanda Nelson (Book Riot), and P.T. Smith (writer and reader). In terms of the BTBA for poetry, here are the six finalists: Rilke Shake by Angélica Freitas, translated from the Portuguese by Hilary Kaplan (Brazil, Phoneme Media) Empty Chairs: Selected Poems by Liu Xia, translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern (China, Graywolf) Load Poems Like Guns: Women’s Poetry from Herat, Afghanistan, edited and translated from the Persian by Farzana Marie (Afghanistan, Holy Cow! Press) Silvina Ocampo by Silvina Ocampo, translated from the Spanish by Jason Weiss (Argentina, NYRB) The Nomads, My Brothers, Go Out to Drink from the Big Dipper by Abdourahman A. Waberi, translated from the French by Nancy Naomi Carlson (Djibouti, Seagull Books) Sea Summit by Yi Lu, translated from the Chinese by Fiona Sze-Lorrain (China, Milkweed) The judges for this year’s poetry award are: Jarrod Annis (Greenlight Bookstore), Katrine Øgaard Jensen (Words Without Borders), Tess Lewis (writer and translator), Becka McKay (writer and translator), and Deborah Smith (writer, translator, founder of Tilted Axis).