Claire Vaye Watkins is on a literary award roll. In November she was named one of the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35," and her short story collection, Battleborn, was included on many best of 2012 lists (including ours).
Yesterday, she collected two more awards. Beating out the likes of Junot Díaz, she won The Story Prize, which is awarded for the best short story collection of 2012 and comes with a prize of $20,000. She was also named a One Story 2013 Literary Debutante, who will be feted at the One Story Literary Debutante Ball in Brooklyn on June 6.
This morning she was named a recipient of the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award—given by the American Academy of Arts and Letters—honoring “a young writer of considerable literary talent for a work published in 2012" and accompanied by a prize of $10,000.
You may be asking yourself, Who is Charles Cutter? A librarian who held positions at Harvard College Library and the Boston Athenæum library, Cutter (1837–1903) developed the Cutter Expansive Classification system, parts of which are still in use today. He was a founding member of the American Library Association and is also a member of the Library Hall of Fame. (Yes, there's such a thing.)
In 1883, Cutter published an infamous article imagining what visiting a library 100 years in the future—in 1983—would be like. In this eerily prescient excerpt describing a reading room, he talks of a "key-board" connected by a wire to the librarian's desk:
From the newspaper basement a lift took us to one of the reading-rooms. These rooms were narrow, to ensure perfect light at every desk. The windows ran to the very top of the room and occupied more than half the wall space. The desks had every convenience that could facilitate study; but what most caught my eye was a little key-board at each, connected by a wire with the librarian's desk. The reader had only to find the mark of his book in the catalog, touch a few lettered or numbered keys, and on the instant a runner at the central desk started for the volume, and, appearing after an astonishingly short interval at the door nearest his desk, brought him his book and took his acknowledgment without disturbing any of the neighboring readers.
Read the fascinating article in its entirety here. And let's wish the imaginative author a Happy Birthday!
I have a real love for villainous characters—the selfish, willing-to-do-anything, desperate geniuses who see law as an elective, not a required course.
• Ridley Pearson •
Attention romance lovers! Harlequin announced this morning that they've signed #1 New York Times best-selling author Sylvia Day to a whopping seven-figure, two-book deal.
Afterburn (August 15, 2013) will be the first book in Harlequin's new ebook series published in conjunction with Cosmopolitan magazine. Cosmo Red Hot Reads will feature strong, contemporary female characters representative of the magazine's readership. Day's second ebook in the series, Aftershock, will follow on November 15, 2013, along with a two-in-one paperback edition of the duo.
Of the collaboration, Day says, "My stories are known for featuring fun, fearless Cosmopolitan-type heroines as well as delicious, dangerous heroes synonymous with Harlequin. Afterburn and Aftershock will be no exception."
According to the announcement, two Cosmo Red Hot Reads ebooks ($3.99 each) will be released to eager readers every month.
What do you think, romance readers? Could there be a more perfect match than Harlequin and Cosmo? While you're impatiently waiting for August to roll around, check out our interview with Day about last year's bestseller Bared to You.
Books have a unique way of stopping time in a particular moment and saying: Let’s not forget this.
• Dave Eggers •
• The 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction finalists were announced earlier this week: Threats by Amelia Gray, Kind One by Laird Hunt, Hold It ’Til It Hurts by T. Geronimo Johnson, Watergate by Thomas Mallon, and Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. The winner will be named on May 4. Which one will you be rooting for?
• GalleyCat has given us a peek inside the just-published children's picture book Flying Henry, a collection of whimsical images of photographer/artist Rachel Hulin's son.
• Did you know that Moby-Dick was inspired by real-life events? A ship attacked and sunk by an enormous whale, three months drifting at sea, cannibalism—and even a crew member actually named Owen Coffin! A fascinating Smithsonian blog post details the entire gruesome story.
• Dutch artist Frank Halmans' architectural book sculptures look so cozy that we wish we could pack our bags and move right into one.
• The Paris Review notes the passing of Barnaby Conrad, writer, boxer, matador, and one of the coolest guys you've probably never heard of.
• Who knew so many writers were gifted in the visual arts, as well? Flavorwire has compiled a collection of 20 self-portraits by famous authors. Flannery O'Connor, Edgar Allan Poe, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood—which one is your favorite?
• The Baltimore home where F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald lived (with their daughter, Scottie) from 1933 to '35 is up for sale, which means we get to peek inside. Also posted this week is Scott's 1921 passport application, which features a crossed-out description of his chin as "prominent" replaced with "round." And apparently, his mouth was "medium"—whatever that means.
• Finally, Book Riot has collected photos of some very impressive literarily themed Lego projects. It sounds silly, yes, but we dare you not to be impressed by the Harry Potter one, which was built with 400,000 Legos!
One of the reasons that art is important to me is sometimes it actually feels more coherent than life. It orders the chaos.
• Jeffrey Eugenides •
Forthcoming books are announced every day, but this week, there have been two big announcements that have us buzzing with anticipation—so of course we wanted to share the news with you!
First up is The Maramon Convention (Scribner), the forthcoming second novel from award-winning writer Abraham Verghese, whose Cutting for Stone was one of our Readers' Choice: Best Books of 2009. Set in Kerala, India, during the 1940s, The Maramon Convention follows "the life of a precocious girl who escapes her town in southern India to become a pioneering physician in spinal surgery." According to the announcement, the novel will be "another epic story, imbued with medicine, family, and matters of faith, imagining one person's resolve to make the crooked straight." No word yet on when the book will be published, but we'll keep you posted.
Next up is The Library Book (Simon & Schuster), from Susan Orlean, staff writer for The New Yorker and whose most recent book, Rin Tin Tin, was one of our Best Books of 2011. The Library Book is described as a "love letter to an endangered institution, exploring their history, their people, their meaning, and their future as they adapt and redefine themselves in a digital world, told through the lens of the author's quest to solve a crime that has gone unsolved since it was carried out in 1986: who set fire to the Los Angeles Public Library, ultimately destroying 400,000 books, and why?" Again, no word on the publication date, but we'll let you know as soon as we hear.
What do you think, readers? Which of these forthcoming books are you most looking forward to reading? Or is that an impossible question?