2018 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Longlist Announced

The Center for Fiction announced their 2018 First Novel Prize longlist this morning. The award is given to the "best debut novel published between January 1 and December 31 of the award year," and the prize-winning author receives $10,000. The Millions has a special connection to this list: our editor Lydia Kiesling made the list with her debut novel, The Golden State (out in September)! Here is the 2018 longlist (featuring many titles from our Great Book Preview) with bonus links when applicable:  America is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday Brass by Xhenet Aliu Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg The Devoted by Blair Hurley The Distance Home by Paula Saunders Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling (Read more of Lydia's work here) If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim Inappropriation by Lexi Freiman Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li (Our interview with Li) The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat The Pisces by Melissa Broder (Our interview with Broder) A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (Featured in Garth Greenwell's Year in Reading) Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin Restless Souls by Dan Sheehan Sabrina by Nick Drnaso Sadness is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher Self-Portrait with Boy by Rachel Lyon Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik There There by Tommy Orange Trenton Makes by Tadzio Koelb What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith The Wonder That Was Ours by Alice Hatcher

Mike McCormack Wins 2018 International DUBLIN Literary Award

Mike McCormack's Solar Bones won the 23rd Annual International DUBLIN Literary Award. McCormack is the fourth Irish author to take home the award and €100,000 prize. The novel, which was also longlisted for the Man Booker, was chosen from 150 titles nominated by libraries in 111 cities across 37 countries. Solar Bones is about All Souls' Day—which, in Ireland, is when the dead are said to return. About the book, the 2018 judging panel said: "Formally ambitious, stylistically dauntless and linguistically spirited, Solar Bones is a novel of extraordinary assurance and scope." The award, which is given to a novel written or translated into English, is sponsored by Dublin City Council and Dublin’s municipal government, and administered by Dublin City Public Libraries. Bonus links: check out who made the International DUBLIN Literary Award shortlist.

Kamila Shamsie Wins the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction

Kamila Shamsie's Home Fire has won the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction! Along with the award, Shamsie takes home a £30,000 prize and the ‘Bessie’, a limited edition bronze figurine. During the ceremony in central London, 2018 Chair of Judges Sarah Sands said "in the end we chose the book which we felt spoke for our times. Home Fire is about identity, conflicting loyalties, love and politics. And it sustains mastery of its themes and its form. It is a remarkable book which we passionately recommend.” Formerly the Orange Prize and Baileys Prize, the Women’s Prize for Fiction recognizes the best English-language novel by a woman published in the U.K. in the previous year. The award celebrates "excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world." Bonus links: Our quick guide to the 2018 Women's Prize shortlist (it's never too late to read the other nominees!).

2018 Lambda Literary Awards Honor LGBTQ Literature

The 2018 Lambda Literary Awards were announced last night in New York City. The annual award, now in its 30th year, celebrates the "best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender books of the year and affirm[s] that LGBTQ stories are part of the literature of the world." In addition to the other awards, Lamdba's Trustee and Visionary Awards were given to Roxane Gay and Edmund White. The winners of the 2018 Lambda Literary Awards are as follows: Lesbian Fiction Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (Our review of Machado’s “body horrors” and interview with the author) Gay Fiction After the Blue Hour by John Rechy Bisexual Fiction The Gift by Barbara Browning Bisexual Nonfiction Hunger by Roxane Gay LGBTQ Nonfiction How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Transgender Nonfiction Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity by C. Riley Snorton Lesbian Memoir/Biography The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich Gay Memoir/Biography Lives of Great Men: Living and Loving as an African Gay Man by Chike Frankie Edozien Graphic Novel My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Autonomous by Annalee Newitz (the one book reco'd by Robin Sloan in his Year in Reading entry)   The full list of winners can be found here.

A Quick Guide to the Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist

The winner of the 2018 Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize and the Baileys Prize) will be announced on June 6. Since 1996, the award has recognized the best English-language novel by a woman published in the U.K. in the previous year, and it has steadily built a distinguished lineup of winners (including Marilynne Robinson, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Barbara Kingsolver, Ali Smith, and Lionel Shriver). Amongst these celebrated voices, several debut authors have found their careers kickstarted by the prize—it was largely responsible for putting Eimear McBride on the map, and Madeline Miller and Téa Obreht also won for their first novels. So it’s appropriate that this year’s shortlist of six (whittled down from a longlist of 16) consists of three established and three debut authors (Elif Batuman, Imogen Hermes Gowar, and Jessie Greengrass). I hope this guide helps you find a couple books among them that speak to you. The 2018 shortlist: The Idiot by Elif Batuman The Basics: A sedate series of vignettes following the daily life of Selin, a college freshman in the mid-1990s who questions the foundations of language, navigates the confusing new territory of love by email, and finds herself teaching English in a Hungarian village over the summer. Key Quote: “I kept thinking about the uneven quality of time—the way it was almost always so empty, and then with no warning came a few days that felt so dense and alive and real that it seemed indisputable that that was what life was, that its real nature had finally been revealed. But then time passed and unthinkably grew dead again, and it turned out that that fullness had been an aberration and might never come back.” Read if You Like: Campus novels, deadpan humor, or stories that capture the rhythms of everyday life. My Take: This is a witty, compassionate look at how youth can trap people into being simultaneously smart and shallow, and Batuman’s observational humor perfectly captures the casual absurdity of simple interactions. The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar The Basics: Set in 1780s London, the novel opens with a merchant named Jonah Hancock as one of his captains returns with the news that he sold one of Hancock’s ships in exchange for what appears to be a small, mummified mermaid. To try to recoup his losses, Mr. Hancock begins selling tickets to the public, leading him to a fateful meeting with the vivacious Angelica Neal—a high-class courtesan looking for her next provider. Key Quote: “He puts his face by hers, his nose grazing her ear and his lips just upon her neck, until each of their breaths slows. Thus they sleep and thus they wake. There ought to be little else said on the matter, for lovers are all the same, and only of interest to themselves, but on this count it is remarkable: Angelica Neal has not felt this way before. Or if she has, she has forgot.” Read if You Like: Meticulously researched historical fiction, luscious and somewhat verbose prose, or tales with a tinge of magical realism. My Take: Although a bit more superficial than the titles it’s being compared to (like The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry), this is a pacey romp that cleverly considers issues of gender, wealth, and class mobility. Sight by Jessie Greengrass The Basics: A compact novel that follows a British woman in her 20s as she grapples with major life events, including the death of her mother and the choice of whether or not to become a mother herself. Interwoven with her personal reflections are detours about historical figures who attempted to see into the human mind and body (through psychoanalysis, the discovery and use of X-ray waves, and early study of human anatomy). Key Quote: “There are times when pregnancy seems like the narrowing down of options to a point, and still it is impossible to make oneself believe, quite, that there is no way out of it but this: a bed somewhere, a costing up of risks and this pain that tears you from yourself, your mind disbursed by it, your body made an exit wound.” Read if You Like: Cerebral writing, insular first-person narration, or books that combine the academic and the personal. My Take: One reader’s profundity is another’s pretension, and this often strayed into the latter for me. But the novel does offer some brilliant passages on family legacies, grief, and the philosophical ties between major historical events and our own intimate experiences. [millions_ad] When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy The Basics: A young Indian writer informs the reader that she has recently escaped from an oppressive, violent marriage, then rewinds to illustrate exactly how her husband mentally and physically abused her. Along the way, she confronts how Indian society abets victimizers while shaming victims, acknowledging that she herself believed this kind of thing would never happen to a woman like her. Key Quote: “The suspicious, violent husband is a character, but already, just by being who he is, he is becoming the first semblance of a plot. It’s a plot that goes nowhere except in dizzying circles, and it’s a plot that remains tightly under his control. But, recently, I have begun to learn how to wrest it back. ...I remind myself of the fundamental notion of what it means to be a writer. A writer is the one who controls the narrative.” Read if You Like: Fiction with hints of memoir, mordant humor, or fragmented narratives. My Take: This is a harrowing, fiercely intelligent account of one woman’s battles against both internal and external critics (and it’s my personal pick to win). Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie The Basics: When a British teenager named Parvaiz Pasha is recruited by ISIS, his sisters have opposing views on how to move forward—and that’s before their brother’s story gains international attention. Like its source material (the ancient Greek tragedy Antigone), this story poses the questions: How does the power of the individual compare to the power of the state? And what happens when their interests conflict? Key Quote: “If you look at colonial laws you’ll see plenty of precedent for depriving people of their rights; the only difference is this time it’s applied to British citizens, and even that’s not as much of a change as you might think, because they’re rhetorically being made un-British. ...Even when the word ‘British’ was used [for the 7/7 terrorists], it was always ‘British of Pakistani descent’ or ‘British Muslim’ or, my personal favorite, ‘British passport holders,’ always something interposed between their Britishness and terrorism.” Read if You Like: Multifaceted explorations of identity, classic retellings, or a touch of melodrama. My Take: Fast-paced and stirring, this novel builds to a phenomenal final section that will surprise even readers of Sophocles. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward The Basics: When Leonie gets a call that her boyfriend, Michael, has been released from prison, she and their two children (Jojo, 13, and Kayla, 2) set out together to pick him up. Their days traveling through rural Mississippi are filled with family tension, drug trafficking, and ghostly presences. Key Quote: “When Mama first realized that something was seriously wrong with her body, that it had betrayed her and turned cancerous, she began by treating it herself with herbs. ...Her body broke down over the years until she took to her bed, permanently, and I forgot so much of what she taught me. I let her ideas drain from me so that the truth could pool instead. Sometimes the world don’t give you what you need, no matter how hard you look. Sometimes it withholds.” Read if You Like: Southern gothic fiction, flawed and complex characters, or novels that connect America’s past and present demons through incisive portraits of black American experiences. My Take: I’m in the minority of readers in that I found this book rather bland and static. But there’s a wonderfully seething undercurrent to the story, and there’s a reason Ward’s lyrical writing has earned her legions of fans.

And the Winners of the 2018 Best Translated Book Awards Are…

The 11th annual Best Translated Book Awards were announced this evening at the New York Rights Fair. The Invented Part by  Rodrigo Fresán, translated by Will Vanderhyden, won for fiction. Before Lyricism by Eleni Vakalo, translated by Karen Emmerich, took the prize for poetry. Here are the jury's statements:   "The Invented Part weaves together the intellectual, the emotional, and the aesthetic as one, resulting in an entertaining, playful, sorrowful, and joyful novel that shows there is new ground to be found in the novel, new structures to be built. To find those structures takes daring and the risks Fresán takes both narratively and stylistically pay off. This book is as generous as it is challenging, as nostalgic as it is hopeful. Rodrigo Fresán is a master, and Will Vanderhyden brings that mastery and all the nuance that comes with it into English. They are a perfectly matched pair, and The Invented Part is an astounding start to this trilogy." "Before Lyricism is a captivating collection of poetry as well as an awe-inspiring feat of translation. Eleni Vakalo makes her readers hear and see the images written on the page; the book creates its own world around you as you read. Vakalo pushes the Greek language to its limits, stretching its syntax and playing up its room for ambiguity. Karen Emmerich spent over a decade translating these poems and finding ways for English, normally so resistant to ambiguity, to open up and allow for a similar, unsettling abstraction. The end result is nothing short of miraculous and an absolute pleasure to read in English translation." This year’s fiction jury is made up of: Caitlin Luce Baker (University Book Store, Seattle), Kasia Bartoszyńska(Monmouth College), Tara Cheesman-Olmsted (Reader at Large), Lori Feathers (Interabang Books), Mark Haber (writer, Brazos Bookstore), Adam Hetherington (author), Jeremy Keng (reader, freelance reviewer), Bradley Schmidt (translator), and P.T. Smith (Ebenezer Books, The Scofield). The poetry jury includes: Raluca Albu (BOMB), Jarrod Annis (Greenlight Bookstore), Tess Lewis (writer and translator), Aditi Machado (poet and translator), and Emma Ramadan (translator, Riffraff Bookstore).  We announced the longlist and finalists here at the site earlier this spring. More praise from the fiction judges, this from Caitlin Luce Baker: "The Invented Part is a generous, heady, big hearted read. Bouncing from referencing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, to Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, and The Kinks. The Invented Part dazzles. The Invented Part reminded me what a book can do. Thanks to Rodrigo Fresán for writing, Will Vanderhyden for translating, and Open Letter for publishing the book that broke reading for me. Special shoutout to The Kinks for playing in my head as I read The Invented Part." Adam Hetherington: "The Invented Part does everything at once, and in a thoroughly modern way that satisfies me like few books ever have. You could take half the blurbs ever written and stick them on this back cover. This thing is absolutely bananas." Mark Haber: "A book as generous and warm-hearted as it is intelligent and daring. The Invented Part seems to create (and warrant) the rules of its own existence; a book almost impossible to describe, yet not because it's difficult, but rather by the sheer dimensions it contains. The book's obsessions - writers, films, musicians, science fiction - to the eternal questions of love, mortality and illness are integrated seamlessly. The translation by Will Vanderhyden is remarkable and alive, a reminder of what a truly good translator is capable of doing." Thanks to grant funds from the Amazon Literary Partnership, the winning authors and translators will each receive $5,000 cash prizes. Three Percent at the University of Rochester founded the BTBAs in 2008, and over the past seven years, the Amazon Literary Partnership has contributed more than $140,000 to international authors and their translators through the BTBA. For more information, visit the official Best Translated Book Award site and the official BTBA Facebook page, and follow the award on Twitter. 

2018 Man Booker International Prize Celebrates Works of Translation

The winner of the 2018 Man Booker International Prize is Flights by Olga Tokarczuk. Connected by themes of travel and human anatomy, Flights is a novel of linked fragments from the 17th century to the present day. The five panel judges chaired by Lisa Appignanesi OBE chose Tokarczuk's novel from a group of 108 submissions. About the winner, Appignanesi wrote "Tokarczuk is a writer of wonderful wit, imagination and literary panache. In Flights, brilliantly translated by Jennifer Croft, by a series of startling juxtapositions she flies us through a galaxy of departures and arrivals, stories and digressions, all the while exploring matters close to the contemporary and human predicament – where only plastic escapes mortality." Considering both novels and short stories, the prize is awarded annually to a work of English translation and published in the United Kingdom. The £50,000 prize is divided equally between the author and the translator. (Bonus links: an essay on what can be lost in translation).

2018 NES Book Awards Honor New England Culture

The 2018 New England Society Book Awards were given out during the group's annual Founders' Day celebration in New York. Designed to "recognize books that honor New England culture," nominated titles must be about or set in New England. The New England Society in the City of New York (NES) presents awards in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Art & Photography, and Specialty. Fiction: A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline Nonfiction: Darkness Falls on the Land of Light: Experiencing Religious Awakenings in Eighteenth-Century New England by Douglas L. Winiarski Art: Cartoon County: My Father and his Friends in the Golden Age of Make-Believe by Cullen Murphy Photography: East of the Mississippi: Nineteenth-Century American Landscape Photography by Diane Waggoner with Russell Lord and Jennifer Raab Specialty: Moon New England Road Trip by Jen Rose Smith (Bonus Link: an essay about Infinite Boston, a walking tour dedicated to the places found in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest)

The Shirley Jackson Award Celebrates Darkly Fantastic Literature

The 2017 Shirley Jackson Award nominees have been announced. Given for "outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic," the award categories are as follows: Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection, and Edited Anthology. Here are the nominees (or Scary Stories Nominated for Awards [in the Dark]): Novel Ill Will by Dan Chaon (Our most recent interview with Chaon) The Bone Mother by David Demchuk The Changeling by Victor LaValle (Our 2016 interview with LaValle) The Hole by Hye-young Pyun The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge (Part of our 2017 Great Book Preview) Single-Author Collection Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (Our review of Machado's "body horrors") She Said Destroy by Nadia Bulkin The Dark Dark by Samantha Hunt (Read our 2016 interview with Hunt) The Doll’s Alphabet by Camilla Grudova Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country by Chavisa Woods The rest of the nominees can be found at the award website. [millions_ad]

Mark O’Connell Wins 2018 Wellcome Book Prize

The award is coming from inside The Millions! Staff writer Mark O'Connell won the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize for his book, To Be A Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death. The annual prize is given to new works of fiction or nonfiction regardless of genre whose "central theme that engages with some aspect with medicine, health, or illness." During an award ceremony tonight at Wellcome Collection, London, judge Edmund de Waal praised To Be a Machine as "a book that brings into focus timely issues about mortality, what it might mean to be a machine and what it truly means to be human." Bonus links: along with his writing on The Millions, you read our interview with O'Connell from last year.