2019 Whiting Awards Winners Announced

The 10 winners of the 34th annual Whiting Awards were named last night in a ceremony featuring a keynote by author Adam Johnson, winner of the 2009 Whiting Award, the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the 2015 National Book Award for Fiction. Based on “early-career achievement and the promise of superior literary work to come,” the annual prize gives $50,000 each to 10 emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama.

“Every year, our corps of expert anonymous nominators point us to some of the most exciting and vital work happening today,” Courtney Hodell, the Whiting Foundation’s director of literary programs, said in a statement. “These names may be new to us, but they’re writing the future of literature in this country.”

The fiction recipients are:
Hernan Diaz, author of In the Distance (And a Year in Reading alum)Nafissa Thompson-Spires, author of Heads of the Colored People (Featured in various 2018 Year in Reading entries)Merritt Tierce, author of Love Me Back

The nonfiction recipients are:
Terese Marie Mailhot, author of Heart Berries: A Memoir (A Millions Most Anticipated title)Nadia Owusu, author of Aftershocks, a forthcoming memoir.

The poetry recipients are:
Kayleb Rae Candrilli, author of What Runs OverTyree Daye, author of River HymnsVanessa Angélica Villarreal, author of Beast Meridian.

The drama recipients are:
Michael R. Jackson, playwright of the forthcoming musical A Strange LoopLauren Yee, playwright of Ching Chong Chinaman

In his keynote, Johnson spoke on the dying tradition of observation of the world around us in the era of earbuds and ubiquitous screens. “The literary arts have always excavated memory, topographized terrain, resurrected voices,” he said. “But the times are changing. I believe we now need writers not only to show us the realm behind the curtain, but the one before our very eyes.” He added, “Is the world too much? Too much to gaze directly upon?…Perhaps the delamination of life is too much to bear…All the more reason why we need writers to take our hands and say, ‘Look! See what I see.'”

Previous winners of the award, which was first bestowed in 1985, prove the point. That list includes Colson Whitehead, Denis Johnson, Tracy K. Smith, Jeffrey Eugenides, August Wilson, Lydia Davis, David Foster Wallace, Suzan-Lori Parks, Michael Cunningham, Z.Z. Packer, Mary Karr, Jonathan Franzen, Tony Kushner, Alice McDermott, Terrance Hayes, Jorie Graham, Deborah Eisenberg, Anthony Marra, Ben Fountain, Yiyun Lee, Tyehimba Jess, Justin Cronin, Alexander Chee, Jericho Brown, Adam Johnson, Elif Batuman, John Jeremiah Sullivan.

More recent winners include Tommy Pico, Catherine Lacey, Tony Tulathimutte, Lucas Hnath, Esmé Weijun Wang, Lisa Halliday, Layli Long Soldier, Ocean Vuong, Francisco Cantú, Weike Wang, and Antoinette Nwandu.

The honorees are chosen by an anonymous panel of six judges.

National Book Critics Circle Award Winners Announced

The National Book Critics Circle announced its 2019 Award Winners, and the winners of three additional prizes: the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, John Leonard Prize, and Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.

The six finalists were selected from 31 finalists across six different categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Biography, Autobiography, Fiction, Poetry, and Criticism.

Anna Burns won the big prize in fiction for Milkman, which also won the 2018 Man Booker Prize. Zadie Smith was awarded the prize in criticism for Feel Free: Essays (found in our February 2018 Monthly Book Preview); the Poetry award went to The Carrying by Ada Limón (found in our August 2018 Must-Read Poetry list). Nora Krug won the Autobiography award for Belonging: A German Reckons With History and Home; Christopher Bonanos won the Biography award for Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous; and Steve Coll was awarded the prize in Nonfiction for Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As to the three stand-alone awards, Arte Público Press won the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award for its contributions to book culture; Maureen Corrigan won the Nona Balakin Citation for Excellence in Reviewing; and Tommy Orange’s There There won the John Leonard Prize for a first book in any genre. (Read Orange’s 2018 Year in Reading entry).

Windham Campbell Prizes Name Recipients for 2019

The Windham-Campbell Prizes announced eight winners today at an event in London. Established in 2013, the prize seeks to “call attention to literary achievement and provide writers with the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns.” Each recipient is awarded $165,000, an unusually high sum for a literary prize.The winners are as follows, with bonus links as applicable:

Fiction:Danielle McLaughlin David Chariandy (Writer of a “perfectly sculpted novel” according to Claire Cameron)Nonfiction: Raghu Karnad (Mentioned in Anuradha Roy’s Year in Reading)Rebecca Solnit (Read our review of The Faraway Nearby here)Poetry: Ishion Hutchinson Kwame Dawes (Read his post for National Poetry Month)Drama: Young Jean Lee Patricia Cornelius

Women and Small Publishers Dominate 2019 Man Booker International Prize Longlist

The Man Booker International Prize announced its 2019 longlist today, selecting 13 works of translated fiction from 108 entrants.

The prize honors the best translated fiction from around the world and splits the £50,00 prize evenly between authors and translators. This year, the longlist features authors from 12 countries and books translated from nine languages; it is dominated by women and independent publishers.

Here’s the 2019 Man Booker longlist, with bonus links where applicable:

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth

Love In The New Millennium by Can Xue, translated by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen (Check out our review of Can Xue’s earlier work)

The Years by Annie Ernaux, translated by Alison Strayer (Subject of this essay by Arthur Willemse)

At Dusk by Hwang Sok-yong, translated by Sora Kim-Russell

Jokes For The Gunmen by Mazen Maarouf, translated by Jonathan Wright

Four Soldiers by Hubert Mingarelli, translated Sam Taylor

The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann, translated by Jen Calleja

Mouthful Of Birds by Samanta Schweblin, translated Megan McDowell (Included in our 2019 Great First-Half Book Preview)

The Faculty Of Dreams by Sara Stridsberg, translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner

Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Winner of last year’s prize for Flights)

The Shape Of The Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, translated by Anne McLean (Featured in our September Preview)

The Death Of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa, translated by Sam Garrett

The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zeran, translated by Sophie Hughes

The Man Booker shortlist will be announced on April 9, and the winner will be named on May 21.

Women’s Prize for Fiction Names 2019 Longlist

 

 

Previously known as the Bailey’s Prize for Fiction (2013-2016) and the Orange Prize for Fiction (1996-2012), the Women’s Prize for Fiction announced its 2019 shortlist today. The award, created in the wake of a 1991 all-male Booker Prize shortlist, celebrates “excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world.” The longlist, which includes seven debut novels, is as follows (with bonus links when possible):The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (also nominated for the 2018 Costa Book Awards shortlist and featured in our September Preview)Remembered by Yvonne Battle-FeltonMy Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (featured in our November Preview) The Pisces by Melissa Broder (mentioned in Marta Bausell’s 2018 Year in Reading and interviewed by The Millions here)Milkman by Anna Burns (winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize)Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (mentioned in not one, or even two, but three Year in Reading posts; Emezi was also a 5 Under 35 honoree this year)Ordinary People by Diana Evans (featured in our September Preview)Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-JephcottAn American Marriage by Tayari Jones (February Preview)Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li (interview with Li here, plus mentions in quite a few of our Year in Reading posts) Bottled Goods by Sophie van LlewynLost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli (featured in two Previews and two Year in Reading posts)Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden (praised in Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s Year in Reading)Circe by Madeline Miller (Steph Opitz’s , Marta Bausells’s, and Kaulie Lewis‘s Year in Reading)Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss (reviewed here and here)Normal People by Sally Rooney (in two 2018 Year in Reading posts)The shortlist will be announced on April 29th, and the winner will be selected on June 5th.

Aspen Words Literary Prize Reveals 2019 Shortlist

The Aspen Words Literary Prize announced its 5-title shortlist, whittled down from the 16-title longlist from late last year. In its second year, the prize aims to award $35,000 to a single work of fiction “that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture.”

This year’s finalists (complete with bonus links and Publishers Weekly reviews) are as follows:

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Read our interview with Adjei-Brenyah and PW’s starred review:
Adjei-Brenyah dissects the dehumanizing effects of capitalism and racism in this debut collection of stingingly satirical stories. The arguments that exonerate a white man for brutally murdering five black children with a chainsaw in “The Finkelstein 5” highlight the absurdity of America’s broken criminal justice system. “Zimmer Land” imagines a future entertainment park where players enter an augmented reality to hunt terrorists or shoot intruders played by minority actors. The title story is one of several set in a department store where the store’s best salesman learns to translate the incomprehensible grunts of vicious, insatiable Black Friday shoppers. He returns in “How to Sell a Jacket as Told by IceKing” to be passed over for a promotion despite his impeccable record. Some stories take a narrower focus, such as “The Lion & the Spider,” in which a high school senior has to take a demanding job to keep money flowing into his family’s house after his father’s disappearance. In “Light Spitter,” a school shooting results in both the victim and gunman stuck in a shared purgatory. “Through the Flash” spins a dystopian Groundhog Day in which victims of an unexplained weapon relive a single day and resort to extreme violence to cope. Adjei-Brenyah has put readers on notice: his remarkable range, ingenious premises, and unflagging, momentous voice make this a first-rate collection.

Gun Love by Jennifer Clement

Read PW’s review:
In her excellent fifth novel, Clement (Prayers for the Stolen) tackles homelessness, America’s love affair with guns, and the economic despair of folks living on the dark edge of society. Pearl is a 14-year-old girl living with her mother in an old car next to a crummy trailer park and the town dump in central Florida. The car has been their home since Pearl was born. She and her mother are dreamers (“It doesn’t take too long to figure out that dreams are better than life,” says her mother), but their dreams don’t spare them from tragedy when cop-killing charmer Eli shows up and woos Pearl’s mother, coming between mother and daughter. Eli and trailer neighbors Pastor Rex and Ray are in the gun-running business, selling weapons in Texas and Mexico. When Pearl’s small, insular world is shattered by an armed drifter, she starts on a dangerous path that will change the rest of her life. Clement’s affecting and memorable novel is also an incisive social commentary that will give readers much to ponder.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Read Jones’s 2017 Year in Reading and PW’s review:
Jones (Silver Sparrow) lays bare the devastating effects of wrongful imprisonment in this piercing tale of an unspooling marriage. Roy, an ambitious corporate executive, and Celestial, a talented artist and the daughter of a self-made millionaire, struggle to maintain their fledgling union when Roy is sentenced to 12 years in prison on a rape charge he is adamant is false. Before Roy’s arrest, the narrative toggles between his and Celestial’s perspectives; it takes an epistolary form during his imprisonment that affectingly depicts their heartbreaking descent into anger, confusion, and loneliness. When Roy is proven innocent and released seven years early, another narrator is introduced: Andre, Celestial’s lifelong best friend who has become very close to her while Roy has been away. Jones maintains a brisk pace that injects real suspense into the principal characters’ choices around fidelity, which are all fraught with guilt and suspicion, admirably refraining from tipping her hand toward one character’s perspective. The dialogue—especially the letters between Roy and Celestial—are sometimes too heavily weighted by exposition, and the language slides toward melodrama. But the central conflict is masterfully executed: Jones uses her love triangle to explore simmering class tensions and reverberating racial injustice in the contemporary South, while also delivering a satisfying romantic drama.

Brother by David Chariandy

Read Claire Cameron’s 2017 Year in Reading and PW’s starred review:
Chariandy’s powerful and incendiary second novel (following Soucouyant) probes the ramifications of police violence on marginalized communities and delivers a nuanced portrait of a family struggling to stay afloat as circumstances stack against them. Set during the summer of 1991 in the Park, a suburban Toronto housing complex, the narrative tracks the coming of age of two mixed-heritage brothers as they cling to and ultimately test the patience of their hardworking Trinidadian single mother, “one of those black mothers unwilling to either seek or accept help from others.” During the boys’ teen years, sensitive Michael fumbles through his first real relationship with Aisha, a girl from the block and “the sort of girl the world considers ‘an example’ or ‘the exception,’ ” while his streetwise and volatile older brother, Francis, becomes obsessed with the city’s burgeoning hip-hop scene. Unfortunately, Francis’s passion for music doesn’t quell his problem with authority, and a run-in with the police at a local hangout turns violent, with devastating consequences. Told from Michael’s perspective, the novel presents a grim reality—gang shootings, entrenched racism and fear, lack of opportunity, and loss. But instead of relying on stale stereotypes, Chariandy imbues his resilient characters and their stories with strength, dignity, and hope. This is an impressive novel written by an author in total command of his story.

There There by Tommy Orange

Read our June Book Preview) and PW’s starred review:
Orange’s commanding debut chronicles contemporary Native Americans in Oakland, as their lives collide in the days leading up to the city’s inaugural Big Oakland Powwow. Bouncing between voices and points of view, Orange introduces 12 characters, their plotlines hinging on things like 3-D–printed handguns and VR-controlled drones. Tony Loneman and Octavio Gomez see the powwow as an opportunity to pay off drug debts via a brazen robbery. Others, like Edwin Black and Orvil Red Feather, view the gathering as a way to connect with ancestry and, in Edwin’s case, to meet his father for the first time. Blue, who was given up for adoption, travels to Oklahoma in an attempt to learn about her family, only to return to Oakland as the powwow’s coordinator. Orvil’s grandmother, Jacquie, who abandoned her family years earlier, reappears in the city with powwow emcee Harvey, whom she briefly dated when the duo lived on Alcatraz Island as adolescents. Time and again, the city is a magnet for these individuals. The propulsion of both the overall narrative and its players are breathtaking as Orange unpacks how decisions of the past mold the present, resulting in a haunting and gripping story.

2018 Costa Book Award Winners Announced

The 2018 Costa Book Awards, which recognize books by writers in the U.K. and Ireland, were announced today in the First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry, and Children’s Book categories.

The winners were The Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton; Normal People by Sally Rooney, who became the youngest ever winner of the Costa Novel Award (mentioned here in not one but two of our most recent Year in Reading posts); The Cut Out Girl by Bart Es; Assurances by J.O. Morgan; and The Skylarks’ War by Hilary McKay (recommended in this essay from our archive).

Of the five, The Cut Out Girl was selected as Book of the Year at the London awards ceremony. Publishers Weekly called it a “nuanced, moving, and unusual” account that “thoughtfully examines a dark chapter in the Netherlands’ past.”

Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction Announced

The winners of the Andrew Carnegie medals have been announced. The prize recognizes the best fiction and nonfiction books for adult readers published in the U.S. in a calendar year.

Kiese Laymon was awarded the medal in nonfiction for his memoir, Heavy, and Rebecca Makkai won the medal in fiction for The Great Believers. You can read our most recent interview with Makkai here; check out the review of Heavy from Publishers Weekly below:

In this stylish and complex memoir, Laymon, an English professor at the University of Mississippi and novelist (Long Division), presents bittersweet episodes of being a chubby outsider in 1980s Mississippi. He worships his long-suffering, resourceful grandmother, who loves the land her relatives farmed for generations and has resigned herself to the fact of commonplace bigotry. Laymon laces the memoir with clever, ironic observations about secrets, sexual trauma, self-deception, and pure terror related to his family, race, Mississippi, friends, and a country that refuses to love him and his community. He becomes an educator and acknowledges the inadequacies in his own education, noting that his teachers ‘weren’t being paid right. I knew they were expected to do work they were unprepared to start or finish.’ He also writes about living among white people, including a family for whom his grandmother did the laundry: ‘It ain’t about making white folk feel what you feel,’ he quotes his grandmother. ‘It’s about not feeling what they want you to feel.’ His evolution is remarkable, from a ‘hard-headed’ troubled teen to an intellectually curious youth battling a college suspension for a pilfering a library book to finally journeying to New York to become a much-admired professor and accomplished writer. Laymon convincingly conveys that difficult times can be overcome with humor and self-love, as he makes readers confront their own fears and insecurities.

National Book Critics Circle Award Finalists Announced



The National Book Critics Circle announced their 2018 Award Finalists, and the winners of three awards: the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, John Leonard Prize, and Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.

The finalists include 31 writers across six different categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Biography, Autobiography, Fiction, Poetry, and Criticism. Here are the finalists separated by genre:

Fiction:
Milkman by Anna Burns (winner of the Man Booker Prize)
Slave Old Man by Patrick Chamoiseau (translated by Linda Coverdale)
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea

Nonfiction:
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú (part of our 2018 Great Book Preview)
Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Steve Coll
The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt
We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights by Adam Winkler
God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State by Lawrence Wright

Biography:
Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous by Christopher Bonanos
Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown
Inseparable: The Original Siamese Twins and Their Rendezvous with American History by Yunte Huang
The Man in the Glass House: Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century by Mark Lamster
The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created by Jane Leavy

Autobiography:
The Day That Went Missing: A Family’s Story by Richard Beard
All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir by Nicole Chung
What Drowns the Flowers in Your Mouth: A Memoir of Brotherhood by Rigoberto Gonzalez
Belonging: A German Reckons With History and Home by Nora Krug
Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over by Nell Painter
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Poetry:
American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes (read our review)
The Carrying by Ada Limón (found in our August 2018 Must-Read Poetry list)
Holy Moly Carry Me by Erika Meitner
Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl by Diane Seuss
Asymmetry by Adam Zagajewski (translated by Clare Cavanagh)

Criticism:
Is It Still Good to Ya?: Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 1967-2017 by Robert Christgau
Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics by Stephen Greenblatt
To Float in the Space Between: A Life and Work in Conversation with the Life and Work of Etheridge Knight by Terrance Hayes
The Reckonings: Essays by Lacy M. Johnson
Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith (found in our February 2018 Monthly Book Preview)

Here are the winners of the three stand-alone awards: Arte Público Press won the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award for their contributions to book culture. Maureen Corrigan won the Nona Balakin Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. Tommy Orange’s There There won the John Leonard Prize for a first book in any genre. (Read Orange’s 2018 Year in Reading entry).

The winners of the National Book Critics Circle awards will be announced on March 14, 2019.

2018 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Announced

Tommy Orange’s There There wins the 2018 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize!

Awarded to the best debut novel published between January 1 and December 31 of the award year, the winner is given $10,000. This year’s judges were Jeffery Renard Allen, Julie Lekstrom Himes, Katie Kitamura, Rachel Kushner, and Dana Spiotta.

There There was featured in our 2018 Great Book Preview, snagged a spot in The Millions Top Ten, and made an appearance in multiple Year in Reading entries. About the novel, YiR alum Ada Limón wrote:
Tommy Orange’s There There had me deeply disturbed and enthralled, not only for the characters and cultural veracity, but because I think he’s an incredible master of time.
Here are the authors that made this year’s short and long lists.