The National Book Awards were given out tonight at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. Louise Erdrich was the winner of a tight fiction race, beating out Junot Díaz and Dave Eggers (as well as newcomers Ben Fountain and Kevin Powers) for the $10,000 award. Read on for the full list of winners.
Louise Erdrich, The Round House (BookPage interview)
Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers (BookPage review)
Young People's Literature
William Alexander, Goblin Secrets
David Ferry, Bewilderment
Distinguished Contribution to American Letters
It seems like just yesterday that we finished last year's literary awards season—and here it is, upon us again!
This morning, the National Book Award Finalists were announced on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." Whereas last year the list of Fiction Finalists included a highly-acclaimed (but under-appreciated by the general public) short story writer, a debut author and two up-and-coming novelists, this year's list is filled with authors who have more name recognition—most notably Louise Erdrich, who has written more than 20 books, and Junot Díaz, who already has a Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur "Genius" grant under his belt.
I'm especially pleased to report that the list of Finalists includes authors from our September and October cover stories!
The finalists are listed below. The winners will be announced in a ceremony in New York City on November 14.
• Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her (Read an interview about the novel.)
• Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King
• Louise Erdrich, The Round House (Read an interview about the novel.)
• Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (Read a Q&A about the novel.)
• Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds (Read a review of the novel.)
• David Ferry, Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations
• Cynthia Huntington, Heavenly Bodies
• Tim Seibles, Fast Animal
• Alan Shapiro, Night of the Republic
• Susan Wheeler, Meme
YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE:
William Alexander, Goblin Secrets
Carrie Arcos, Out of Reach
Patricia McCormick, Never Fall Down (Read a review of the novel.)
Eliot Schrefer, Endangered
Steve Sheinkin, Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
Which authors do you think should take home the big prize on November 14?
Seems like only yesterday that we were announcing last year's Man Booker Prize shortlist . . . but this year's longlist is out. The list of 12 books competing for the title of best novel written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland and published in the United Kingdom contains a few surprises:
The Yips by Nicola Barker
The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman
Philida by André Brink
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
Skios by Michael Frayn (read our review)
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Swimming Home by Deborah Levy
Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (read our review)
The Lighthouse by Alison Moore
Umbrella by Will Self
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil
Communion Town by Sam Thompson
Half of these have yet to be published in the US—the Will Self & Ned Bauman titles aren't scheduled until 2013!—and four are debut novels. Notable Brits with 2012 releases, like Zadie Smith & Ian McEwan, didn't make the cut, and Hilary Mantel is the only returning winner. The big question is, will she take it for two consecutive books (in the same series, no less)? Or will the prize go to one of the newcomers?
We'll find out on October 16, when the committee announces their decision. Any of these on your TBR?
Anne Enright's novel The Forgotten Waltz is the first winner of the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, while Robert K. Massie's biography Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman captured the nonfiction prize. Both awards were announced Sunday night at the American Library Association's annual convention in Anaheim.
The selection committee was lead by Nancy Pearl, the former librarian and author of Book Lust who is one of the nation's best known champions of books and reading. Pearl and a committee of three librarians and three staffers of ALA's Booklist magazine were charged with selecting the best fiction and nonfiction published in the U.S. last year.
Shortly before the announcement of the award winners, we asked Pearl to tell us more about the new Carnegie Medal and what she thinks its place will be in the "reading ecosystem."
After reading so many books during the selection process, how would you characterize the current state of American literature, particularly in fiction, where the Pulitzer board declined to give an award this year?
I know that I speak for my fellow judges when I say that based on the reading we did American literature, both fiction and nonfiction, is alive and well. Frankly, that’s what drove us all nearly crazy as we read through the 40 titles on our longlist. Because there were so many excellent books published in 2011, narrowing the list to three finalists was hard, and selecting a final winner was even more difficult.
Why was the Carnegie Medal established? How do you think it fits in—or stands out from—the existing awards for fiction and nonfiction?
For those of us in the library and publishing worlds who work with adult literature, an award like the Carnegie Medal has been a long time coming. I think we’ve all looked with frankly envious eyes at the success of the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, for example, and wished for something on that scale honoring adult books. I’m thrilled that our wish has come true.
The Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were established with one goal in mind: to celebrate the best of the best in literature for adult readers. It’s just lovely, too, that the first annual awarding of the Carnegie Medals is the 100th anniversary of the founding of Carnegie Corporation. Andrew Carnegie’s role in building libraries across the world cannot be exaggerated, and I think he’d be very happy to know that these awards are a collaboration between the American Library Association and the foundation that bears his name.
I believe that the Carnegie Medals add a fourth to the troika (the Pulitzer, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award) of literary awards. All four awards honor outstanding fiction and nonfiction for adults. The major difference between the Carnegie Medals and the other awards is the unique composition of our panel of judges: we have four librarians (two from academic libraries and two (including me) from public libraries, and three editors from ALA’s Booklist, a magazine that plays a central role in helping librarians decide what books to purchase for their libraries. Together—and let me say that this was a terrific committee to be part of—we bring to the task of choosing the finalists and the winners many decades worth of experience. Members of the judging panel are all library professionals who work closely with adult readers, and the list of finalists and eventual winners reflect our expert judgment and insight.
Why is this medal important?
The library—be it academic or public—plays a central role in the reading ecosystem. The Carnegies highlight the important role librarians play in opening up the world of books to both new readers and avid book lovers alike. And the Carnegies will serve as a guide to adults looking for quality reading material.
Finally, we can’t pass up an opportunity to ask what you are reading strictly for personal pleasure this summer.
I have many books next to my nightstand that are going to be part of my summer reading. (I would be too nervous to pile them on my nightstand because I’m afraid they’ll tip over on top of me should Seattle have another earthquake!) So right now I’m reading and thoroughly enjoying G. Willow Wilson’s Alif the Unseen, which is fascinating on so many levels. The next four books down, which I’ll read in no particular order, just whichever fits my mood, are Dave Eggers’ A Hologram for the King (I’m a huge fan); Margaret Maron’s One Coffee With (I’m so glad that Oconee Spirit Press just reissued this long out of print title); Fountain of Age, a collection of stories by Nancy Kress (I really enjoyed her novel Beggars in Spain); and China Mieville’s Railsea (I loved Un Lun Don, and this is another novel for kids). But the judges and I are getting books published in 2012 to consider for next year’s Carnegies, so I will be fitting in those as well. Lots of good reading to look forward to.
The 17th Orange Prize shortlist was announced this morning. One of the most prestigious literary awards, it's awarded to a woman who has produced an outstanding work of fiction, and carries a prize of 30,000 pounds.
Esi Edugyan, Half Blood Blues
Anne Enright, The Forgotten Waltz
Georgina Harding, Painter of Silence (not out in the U.S. until September)
Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles
Cynthia Ozick, Foreign Bodies
Ann Patchett, State of Wonder
Ann Patchett is the only previous winner on the list (she won for Bel Canto in 2002). Madeline Miller is the only debut novelist on the list.
Joanna Trollope, Chair of the judging panel, said that it is "a privilege to present" such a varied list, which includes American, British, Irish and Canadian authors and "an age range of close on half a century." The winner will be announced on May 30.
What do you think of the shortlist? Do literary prize nominations make you more interested in a book? Check out last year's longlist for a comparison.
For the first time in 35 years, there will be no Pulitzer Prize in the fiction category. Some of our favorite books, like A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and March, have won the award in the past.
There were three people on the fiction jury (Susan Larson, Maureen Corrigan and Michael Cunningham), and according to a tweet from @bookbeast (the editor of The Daily Beast's book section), there must be a majority vote for a winner to be declared. In other words, two out of three judges must agree on a winner,
and this year it didn't happen. [ETA: Though this is true, the board can refuse to accept the judges' decision. On Tuesday, April 17, judge Susan Larson was the first to clarify that the judges DID make a decision, but the board exercised their option to not award the prize.]
In the nonfiction category, the award went to The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt (Norton). The finalists are One Hundred Names For Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing by Diane Ackerman (Norton) and Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men by Mara Hvistendahl (Public Affairs).
The winner in the biography category is George F. Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis (The Penguin Press).
The winner in the history category is Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable (Viking).
The winner in poetry is Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf).
Read the full list of 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winners and finalists here.
Are you surprised by the fiction announcement? Do you think there was a novel (or collection of short stories) published in 2011 that is deserving of the award?
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka!
This is Otsuka's second novel, and it tells the story of Japanese "picture brides" in pursuit of the American dream. The Buddha in the Attic was also a National Book Award finalist.
Of the five finalists, Otsuka was the big surprise—a relative newcomer up against four lit awards veterans (Russell Banks, Don DeLillo, Steven Millhauser and Anita Desai). Read more about the award here.
Not everyone is thrilled about Otsuka's win, however. Washington Post book critic Ron Charles called it a "disappointing choice from a list of finalists that gave strong preference to short fiction." He includes a list of novels that should have been considered, including State of Wonder. (via EarlyWord)
What do you think? Does Otsuka deserve the award, or is there another book you wish had won?
The five nominees for the 2012 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction were announced yesterday. The national award honors the best American fiction each year.
Four of the nominees are familiar faces in the literary awards world, but everyone is talking about one nominee in particular: relatively new author Julie Otsuka! Her second novel, The Buddha in the Attic, was also a National Book Award finalist.
The other nominees are:
Don DeLillo for The Angel Esmeralda: Nine Stories, his first volume of short stories. He won the 1992 PEN/Faulkner for Mao II.
Anita Desai for The Artist of Disappearance. She has been shortlisted for the Man Booker three times.
Steven Millhauser for We Others: New and Selected Stories. He won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Martin Dressler.
Readers: Of these five books, which would you choose to be the winner?
Earlier this week we posted about this year's Youth Media Awards, and since then we've been lucky enough to interview two of the honorees!
First up: Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, talks to us about Why We Broke Up, an "intoxicating, melancholy meditation on love" that is even more special for its illustrations by Maira Kalman. In the interview, Handler discusses writing from a teenage girl's perspective, collaborating with the talented Kalman and why he won't reveal his own worst breakup. Why We Broke Up received a Printz Honor. Read more here.
John Corey Whaley, a 28-year-old debut novelist (and former schoolteacher) probably had the best day of his life earlier this week when Where Things Come Back was honored with the Printz Award. In his enthusiastic interview, Whaley tells us about how he reacted to this incredible news, how he came to write this story and what he's working on next. This book is of special interest to me because it takes place in Arkansas, and one of the themes is the rediscovery of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker! (As a native Arkansan, I have gone searching for this very bird in the Big Woods.) Read more about Whaley and his Printz Award-winning novel here.
Finally, I know that not all of our readers are children's book enthusiasts, but both of these novels definitely have "crossover" appeal—the stories are universal, the writing is superb and you don't have to be 14 to connect with the characters.
We featured both of these interviews—as well as 10+ other book recommendations—in this morning's edition of Children's Corner. Click here if you'd like to sign up for the enewsletter.
Will you be checking out these novels? What teen books do you think will appeal most to adult readers?
Fans of kid lit look forward to the Youth Media Awards every year, in which the American Library Association announces the year's best children's book authors and illustrators in a variety of categories. This morning, the awards were announced in Dallas.
You can read the full list of winners here. The list includes many BookPage favorites; here's a sampling:
John Newbery Medal ("for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature"):
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (FSG)
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (HarperCollins)
Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin (Holt)
Blackout, written & illustrated by John Rocco, (Disney-Hyperion)
Grandpa Green, written & illustrated by Lane Smith ( Roaring Brook Press)
Me . . . Jane, written & illustrated by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown)
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (Little, Brown)
The Returning by Christine Hinwood (Dial Books)
Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey (Knopf)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic Press)
Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award ("recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults"):
Kadir Nelson, author and illustrator of Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans (Balzer + Bray)
Coretta Scott King (Author) Honors:
Eloise Greenfield, author of The Great Migration: Journey to the North (Amistad)
Patricia C. McKissack, author of Never Forgotten (Schwartz & Wade Books)
Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award:
Shane W. Evans, author & illustrator Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom (Roaring Brook Press)
Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Honor:
Kadir Nelson, author & illustrator of Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans (Balzar + Bray)
Do you have a favorite from this bunch? Were you surprised by any of the annoucements?