Prizes

The Booker’s Dozen: The 2015 Booker Longlist

In the second year that the Booker Prize has been open to U.S. authors, five American authors make the longlist. Anne Enright is the lone former winner on the list, while Marilynne Robinson is the most celebrated American to be tapped. Other notable names include Hanya Yanagihara, Tom McCarthy, and Bill Clegg, who has been better known as a high-powered literary agent and memoirist. Laila Lalami, who now calls the U.S. her home, is the first Moroccan-born writer to land on a Booker longlist. Seven countries are represented overall. All the Booker Prize longlisters are below (with bonus links where available): Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg The Green Road by Anne Enright (What It Is to Be Alone: The Millions Interviews Anne Enright) A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (The Book Report on A Brief History) The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami ("How History Becomes Story – Three Novels" by Laila Lalami, Ship of Fools: On Laila Lalami’s The Moor’s Account) Satin Island by Tom McCarthy (A Millions Top 10 book) The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma ("The Audacity of Prose" by Chigozie Obioma, Clickworthy Headlines about The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma) The Illuminations by Andrew O'Hagan Lila by Marilynne Robinson (Marilynne Robinson’s Singular Vision) Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota The Chimes by Anna Smaill A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Two Lives: On Hanya Yanagihara and Atticus Lish)
Prizes

The 2015 Pulitzer for Fiction Goes to Anthony Doerr’s ‘All the Light We Cannot See’

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Following last year's win for Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, the Pulitzer jury named Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See this year's winner in the fiction category, a second year in a row that the year's break-out literary bestseller took home the prize. Here are this year's Pulitzer winners and finalists with bonus links: Fiction: Winner: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (A World Made of Words: On Anthony Doerr’s Nouns and Verbs, Doerr's Year in Reading 2010 and 2014) Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford (Tossed on Life’s Tide: Richard Ford’s Let Me Be Frank with You) The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami (Ship of Fools: On Laila Lalami’s The Moor’s Account) Lovely, Dark, Deep by Joyce Carol Oates      General Nonfiction: Winner: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (Extinction Stories: The Ecological True-Crime Genre) No Good Men Among the Living by Anand Gopal Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos   History: Winner: Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People by Elizabeth Fenn Empire of Cotton: A Global History by Sven Beckert An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America by Nick Bunker   Biography: Winner: The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe by David I. Kertzer Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism by Thomas Brothers Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928 by Stephen Kotkin    Poetry: Winner: Digest by Gregory Pardlo Reel to Reel by Alan Shapiro Compass Rose by Arthur Sze    Winners and finalists in other categories are available at the Pulitzer Web site.
Prizes

The 2015 IMPAC Shortlist Delivers 10 Eclectic Titles

The IMPAC Award shortlist was announced today. The IMPAC sets itself apart with its unique approach. Its massive longlist is compiled by libraries all over the world before being whittled down by judges. This makes for a more egalitarian selection. It's also got a long lead time. Several books up for the current prize (to be named in June) were initially published as far back as 2013, putting the IMPAC more than a year behind other big literary awards. There's a distinct upside in this. By now, nearly all the shortlisted books are available in paperback in the U.S. The IMPAC also tends to be interesting for the breadth of books it considers, and the 2015 shortlist is no exception, with seven countries represented, though only three of the books are translated works. Four of the ten shortlisters are by women. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Year in Reading) Horses of God by Mahi Binebine Harvest by Jim Crace (at The Millions) The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Art After Tragedy: The Narrow Road to the Deep North) Burial Rites by Hannah Kent K by Bernardo Kucinski Brief Loves that Live Forever by Andreï Makine TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (The Real and the Imagined: On Colum McCann’s TransAtlantic, Colum McCann's Year in Reading) Someone by Alice McDermott (Alice McDermott's Year in Reading) Sparta by Roxana Robinson (Roxana Robinson on Edith Wharton)
Prizes

2014 National Book Critics Circle Award Winners Announced

The winners of the National Book Critics Circle Award have been announced in New York City. The award is voted on by critics and considers all books in English (including in translation), no matter the country of origin. The winners in the various categories and some supplementary links: Fiction: Marilynne Robinson, Lila ("Marilynne Robinson’s Singular Vision") Nonfiction: David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation (excerpt) Autobiography: Roz Chast, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant (excerpt) Criticism: Ellen Willis, The Essential Ellen Willis Biography: John Lahr, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (The Duality of the Human Psyche: On John Lahr’s Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh) Poetry: Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (A Year in Reading: Tiphanie Yanique)   Previously: The finalists
Prizes

2014 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalists Announced

The finalists for the annual National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Award have been announced. The fiction list is an eclectic five, in keeping with what is typically one of the more well-rounded fiction shortlists out there. Here are the finalists for fiction and non-fiction with excerpts and other links where available. In addition to the Fiction finalists, the John Leonard Prize, which goes to a debut work, was awarded to Phil Klay for Redeployment. Charles Finch was among the finalists for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. In October, Finch published "The Truce Between Fabulism and Realism: On Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the Modern Novel" at The Millions. Fiction Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman (Alameddine's Year in Reading) Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings (The Book Report: Episode 5) Lily King, Euphoria (Celeste Ng's Year in Reading) Chang-Rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea (Bill Morris's Year in Reading) Marilynne Robinson, Lila ("Marilynne Robinson’s Singular Vision") Nonfiction David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation (excerpt) Peter Finn and Petra Couvée, The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book (excerpt) Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction ("Extinction Stories: The Ecological True-Crime Genre") Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century (excerpt) Hector Tobar, Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle that Set Them Free (excerpt) For more on the NBCC Awards and the finalists in the other categories, visit the NBCC.
Prizes

2014 National Book Award Winners Announced

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The 2014 National Book Award winners were announced tonight in New York City. The big prize for Fiction went to Redeployment by Phil Klay, whose stories of Iraq and Afghanistan have help lead a wave of fiction reckoning with a over a decade of war in the Middle East and America's involvement in it. The Nonfiction award went to Evan Osnos for his exploration of today's China, Age of Ambition. We took a look at the nonfiction longlist last month and wondered why nonfiction - the sort that seems to win prizes - tends to be so male dominated. The Poetry award was won by Louise Glück for Faithful and Virtuous Night. In 2013, we wrote about Glück's "words and wisdom."  The winner in the Young People's Literature category was Jacqueline Woodson for Brown Girl Dreaming.   Bonus Links: Earlier in the year we dove into both the Shortlist and the Longlist to share excerpts and reviews where available.
Prizes

2014 National Book Award Shortlists Released

Book award season is peaking along with the autumn leaves as the National Book Award shortlists have been released in four categories. These have been whittled down from last month's longlists, and the winners will be announced in New York City on November 19. As we mentioned when she landed on the longlist, one of the fiction finalists will be especially familiar to Millions readers. Emily St. John Mandel, whose Station Eleven has been winning high praise, has been a staff writer for us since 2009. We'll again point you to her first piece for us: "Working the Double Shift" examined how many writers must write as a "second career" while a day job pays the bills. You read about nearly all of the books on the Fiction longlist here first, 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: An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine (excerpt) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Doerr's Year in Reading, 2010) Redeployment by Phil Klay (excerpt) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Mandel's Millions archive) Lila by Marilynne Robinson (excerpt) Nonfiction: Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast (excerpt) No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes by Anand Gopal (excerpt) Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh by John Lahr (excerpt) Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos (excerpt) The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson Poetry: Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück (review) Second Childhood by Fanny Howe (review) This Blue by Maureen N. McLane (review) The Feel Trio by Fred Moten (excerpt) Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (excerpt) Young People's Literature: Threatened by Eliot Schrefer The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin (excerpt) Noggin by John Corey Whaley (excerpt) Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two by Deborah Wiles Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (excerpt)
Prizes

Richard Flanagan Wins the 2014 Man Booker Prize

Australian novelist Richard Flanagan has won this year's Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North. The book begins: Why at the beginning of things is there always light? Dorrigo Evans’ earliest memories were of sun flooding a church hall in which he sat with his mother and grandmother. A wooden church hall. Blinding light and him toddling back and forth, in and out of its transcendent welcome, into the arms of women. Women who loved him. Like entering the sea and returning to the beach. Over and over. The book is the story of an Australian prisoner of war, among more than 9,000 who were forced to build a railway through Burma and Thailand. Michael Gorra for the New York Times Book Review drew comparisons to Conrad and Zola and called it formally demanding but also "carefully and beautifully constructed." Revisit this year's Booker Shortlist.
Prizes

French Novelist Patrick Modiano Wins the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature

In the type of surprise move many Nobel watchers have become accustomed to, the committee has awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature to French novelist Patrick Modiano, a writer with a deep body of work, but one who was not among the "favorites" discussed in the flurry of pre-announcement speculation. Modiano, 69, is best known for his Prix Goncourt-winning 1978 novel Missing Person. Publisher David R Godine calls it "a detective thriller, a 1950s film noir mix of smoky cafes, illegal passports, and insubstantial figures crossing bridges in the fog. On another level, it is also a haunting meditation on the nature of the self." While Modiano's novels have been published in English translations over the years, including by major publishers like Knopf, only a handful of his 25 or so books are currently in print in the U.S. These include Honeymoon and Catherine Certitude, a children's book, illustrated by Sempe. Yale will be releasing a new edition next year that collects three Modiano novellas under the title Suspended Sentences. Update: Yale has announced that it will now publish the book in November 2014. Here at The Millions, novelist J.P. Smith discussed reading Modiano in French: All I knew of Modiano was that he wrote about his past and that of his parents, which was intricately bound up with the years of the German Occupation of France, a topic I was about to introduce into my own fiction. Modiano’s true subject, I discovered, is the nature of identity and memory as it’s distilled through the past—in itself a Proustian conceit—and what I find fascinating about him is that his many novels, which take up a good portion of a bookshelf, in a way are like individual chapters of one book. His theme is unchanging; his style, “la petite musique,” as the French say, is virtually the same from book to book. There is nothing “big” about his work, and readers have grown accustomed to considering each succeeding volume as an added chapter to an ongoing literary project. His twenty-five published novels rarely are longer than 200 pages, and in them his characters, who seem to drift, under different names, into first this novel, then another, wander the streets of Paris looking for a familiar place, a remembered face, some link to their elusive past, some ghost from a half-remembered encounter that might shed some light on one’s history. Phone numbers and addresses are dredged up from the past, only to bring more cryptic clues and, if not dead ends, then the kind of silence that hides a deeper and more painful truth. You open the latest Modiano and you know exactly where you are. The writer is artistically all of a piece. It’s his obsession with memory and the haunted lives of his protagonists which truly caught my attention, and especially how he returns time and again to mine this subject. As someone with a very broken chronology, with a memory of childhood that is in many ways unreliable (how much has been planted there? How much of it is real? What’s been removed by doubt or by someone else’s will?), I saw in Modiano how the capriciousness of memory can in itself become the subject of a novel. And because back then I found plot a troublesome thing to handle in my fiction, the idea of creating a narrator in search of a story became the basis for my first novel. I sent Modiano a copy of it when it was published and, not surprisingly, heard nothing back.
Prizes

Is There No Gender Equity in Nonfiction?

When the National Book Awards Longlist for Nonfiction was released this week with only one woman author out of 10 nominees (and only one person of color), I thought, wow, the jury (two of whom are women) must have completely missed the increasingly vociferous discussions over the past few years about the lack of gender equity in the literary world. Then I read the Slate essay in which Katy Waldman calls nonfiction the “patriarch of the book world.” As the author of a forthcoming nonfiction book, a biography, I have become aware of how male-dominated the field of biography is. But why all of nonfiction? Last year’s longlist wasn’t much better: only three women out of 10. Prior to last year, the National Book Award announced only shortlists, which look pretty good since 2010 (two or three women out of five) but for much of the 2000s were dismal (mostly one or even no women out of five). A recent study in Mayborn also showed that among all of the major prizes in nonfiction over the past 20 years, only 20 percent were won by women and five percent by people of color. The study also found that these results don’t simply prove jury bias; the percentage of books by women submitted to the major competitions was only 30 percent last year. (The study also found the awards skew towards East Coast writers nurtured by institutions that are predominately white and male.) Are fewer women writing nonfiction, you might ask. I suppose it depends on what you call “nonfiction.” According to the last few years’ NBA juries, it is mostly history (preferably about war or early America); biography (preferably about men, especially presidents); or reportage (preferably about war, the economy, or non-Western countries). Even within these parameters, there were some notable, well-reviewed books by women that didn’t make this year’s list: Louisa Lim’s The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited Amanda Vaill’s Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War Lynn Sherr’s Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space Joan De Jean’s How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City Karen Abbott's Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War Two books in science, a topic which attracts surprisingly little attention from NBA juries, should have been strong contenders this year (along with E.O. Wilson’s The Meaning of Human Existence, which did make the list): Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction An Unnatural History Dianne Ackerma’s The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us There are other nonfiction genres, however, in which women are prolific—namely memoir and the essay—which get short shrift from the major awards. The only book by a woman on this year’s NBA longlist is a graphic memoir by Roz Chast called Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?. It is also the only memoir on the list. Of the past 50 nominated books, Waldman points out, only four have been memoirs (three of them by women—one of them won, Patti Smith’s Just Kids in 2010). Women’s attraction to memoirs and essays, many of which focus on the issues unique to women’s lives, may in fact have much to do with their low profile. Memoirs and essay collections by women that deserved the judges’ attention this year include: Leslie Jemison’s The Empathy Exams: Essays Eula Biss’s On Immunity: An Inoculation Barbara Ehrenreich’s Living With a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth About Everything Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist: Essays Jessica Hendry Nelson’s If Only You People Could Follow Directions: A Memoir Then there are those nonfiction books that defy genre. In 1976, when Maxine Hong Kingston won the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction with The Woman Warrior (her China Men won the NBA in 1981), it seemed as if nonfiction had experienced a seismic shift. Unfortunately, in recent years, the major awards have not reflected much of an interest in works that defy category—whether it be in their play between fiction and nonfiction or simply in their interest in combining elements of subgenres within nonfiction (such as history, biography, literary criticism, and memoir). There are a number of compelling works published this year by women that inject memoir into these more conventionally objective subgenres. I would conjecture, in fact, that women writers are more likely to investigate how their own lives intersect with larger issues—such as great books, our nation’s founding documents, or returning soldier’s PTSD—as they did in these works: Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch Danielle Allen, Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality Jennifer Percy’s Demon Camp: A Soldier’s Exorcism Azar Nafisi’s The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books This year’s NBA nonfiction longlist is disappointing not simply because of its dearth of women writers but also because of its unwillingness to think beyond the male-dominated forms of nonfiction that have garnered the most gravitas in the past. We can keep hoping, however, that the subtle biases that govern out understanding of literary value—why is a great work, as Ron Charles points out, called “seminal” rather than “ovular”?—will gradually become as quaint as those 1950s videos instructing women in how to become the perfect housewife.