At 1 p.m. Central European Time (aka 6 a.m. in Nashville), we learned that the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer won the Nobel Prize in Literature “because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.”
Tranströmer, 80, is a bestseller in Sweden, and his work has been translated into more than 50 languages. Poets.org has some more information about Tranströmer, including selected poems. Here's some info about his poetry:
His work has gradually shifted from the traditional and ambitious nature poetry written in his early twenties toward a darker, personal, and more open verse. His work barrels into the void, striving to understand and grapple with the unknowable, searching for transcendence.
You can read more about past winners of this prize on NobelPrize.org. The literature prize has been awarded ever since 1901. The last time an American won the prize was in 1993, when the honor went to Toni Morrison, "who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."
Though I usually root for authors that are familiar to me (like Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood and Haruki Murakami), it is always thrilling to discover an international voice I have never read before, like Tranströmer.
By the way, on Monday there was an interesting piece in Salon asserting that the reasons Americans are not strong contenders for the Prize is because our great authors are writers of "self-enforced isolation" and not "novel[s] of big ideas." Do you agree?
By the way, part two: My favorite literary depiction of what it's like to win a major book award is in Meg Wolitzer's The Wife, in which famous author Joseph Castleman wins the (fictional) Helsinki Prize and must journey to Finland to accept it. The account of "the call"—and its aftermath—is from the point of view of Joseph's wife, Joan. Here's an excerpt:
Always, each year, you hear stories about how some winner or other assumed the call was a prank. There are legendary tales of writers being shaken from sleep by a ringing telephone and cursing the man with the accent on the phone, telling him, "Do you know what time it is?" Only then, lifting to the surface of consciousness, did they realize what the call was about, that it was genuine, and that it meant that their life would change shape forever.
This wasn't the Nobel prize, of course; it was a few steps down, a defiant stepchild that had enhanced its reputation over time by the sheer power of its prize money, which this year was the equivalent of $525,000. It wasn't the Nobel, just as Finland wasn't Sweden. But still the prize was an extravagant honor and thrill. It elevated you—if not to Stockholm heights, then at least partway up.
The National Book Foundation announced the "5 under 35" today, and the honorees include a couple surprises.
The main surprises on the list are Shani Boianjiu, whose novel The People of Forever Are Not Afraid will not be published until 2013—and who, at 24, is one of the youngest ever "5 under 35" recipients—and John Corey Whaley, whose novel Where Things Come Back is the first-ever young adult title honored.
The other recipients are Mary Beth Keane, author of The Walking People (this one was selected by Julia Glass, so I know I'm reading it!); Melinda Moustakis, author of Bear Down, Bear North: Alaska Stories (and winner of the 2010 Flannery O'Connor Award in Short Fiction); and Danielle Evans, author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (a BookPage staff favorite and recent winner of the 2011 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize).
Besides Julia Glass, the other National Book Award authors who selected the honorees are Jaimy Gordon, Oscar Hijuelos, Nicole Krauss and Robert Stone.
The five young writers will be honored at a celebration on November 14.
Does this award introduce you to any new authors? What young writers are you "watching" these days?
If you've read this blog for a while, you probably know that BookPage editors get excited every year for the announcement of the Man Booker Prize, which honors the best novel "written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland and published in the United Kingdom." The cash prize of this prestigious award is £50,000. In the past, some of our very favorite authors—Margaret Atwood, Peter Carey, Yann Martel, John Banville, Kiran Desai (and the list goes on . . . )—have won the Booker.
This year's list shortlist for the award was announced today:
Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending
Carol Birch, Jamrach’s Menagerie
Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers
Esi Edugyan, Half Blood Blues
Stephen Kelman, Pigeon English
A.D. Miller, Snowdrops
BookPage reviewed Pigeon English in August as part of our roundup of debut authors to watch. We also interviewed Kelman about what it felt like when he found out his first novel would be published. He responded: "I was surprised, elated, honoured and grateful. I’d wanted to be a published author for as long as I can remember, so it was very much the fulfilment of a dream." I wonder what he feels like now?!
Which one of these novels are you rooting for to win? Do you have a favorite past Man Booker winner?
You probably already know that Jennifer Egan won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for A Visit from the Goon Squad, her quirky novel described in BookPage as "a series of pastiches that deftly and lyrically illustrates the ways people and culture change, yet stay remarkably the same."
But did you know that Egan's award-winning novel is set to become a series from HBO? Deadline has the scoop:
Egan has closed a deal with HBO to turn her sprawling tale into a TV series. Groundswell's Michael London will be executive producer and Jocelyn Hays Simpson will be co-exec producer. Egan will be a consultant. The network hasn't yet set a writer to draft the series pilot, but it will happen quickly . . .
(Side note: A Visit from the Goon Squad came out in paperback on March 22, and it's one of our top picks for book clubs in the April issue of BookPage.)
As far as other Pulitzer news, I admit that I was even more excited about the finalists for the fiction prize, because both novels are very special to me—two of my favorite reads of 2010, in fact.
The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee and The Privileges by Jonathan Dee are the two finalists, and here's what the Pulitzer website has to say:
A haunting and often heartbreaking epic whose characters explore the deep reverberations of love, devotion and war. (The Surrendered)
A contemporary, wide ranging tale about an elite Manhattan family, moral bankruptcy and the long reach of wealth. (The Privileges)
Were you pleased with the Pulitzer for fiction winner and finalists? Have you read A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Surrendered and/or The Privileges? Why did you love them (or not)?
The award honors fiction written by a woman and written in English. The longlist, announced yesterday, includes several BookPage favorites—including our current cover story, The Tiger's Wife. Here's the complete lists, with links to our reviews or features:
Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela
Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi
Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
The London Train by Tessa Hadley
Grace Williams Says it Loud by Emma Henderson
The Seas by Samantha Hunt
The Birth of Love by Joanna Kavenna
Great House by Nicole Krauss
The Road to Wanting by Wendy Law-Yone
The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
Repeat it Today with Tears by Anne Peile
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin
The Swimmer by Roma Tearne
Annabel by Kathleen Winter
This is unusual for me, but I actually do not have a strong opinion on who I want to win. I thought Emma Donoghue should have won the Booker, so I would be thrilled with a victory for Room. But I'd also root for Nicole Krauss, Karen Russell, Aminatta Forna and several others on this list . . . sigh.
In this longlist of stand-outs, are you especially rooting for a particular author?
The shortlist will be announced on April 12, and the awards ceremony is June 8. Stay tuned for more news!
Both proven prize winners and relatively new faces appear on the list of LA Times Book Award finalists for 2010, which were announced on Tuesday.
Books were nominated in 10 categories: Biography, current interest, fiction, first fiction (the Art Seidenbaum Award), graphic novel, history, mystery-thriller, poetry, science and technology, and young adult literature.
In fiction, old hands Jonathan Franzen, Richard Bausch and Rick Bass will be battling it out against Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad) and Frederick Reiken (Day for Night). We were also excited to see BookPage favorites Tana French and Tom Franklin up for the mystery-thriller award (alongside Laura Lippman, Stuart Neville and Kelli Stanley).
Of course, Laura Hillenbrand made it to the nonfiction category with her best-selling (and riveting) Unbroken, as did Edmund Morris with Colonel Roosevelt. Somewhat surprisingly, Patti Smith's Just Kids is included in the current interest category along with books like War and The Big Short.
For a full list of the nominees in all categories, click here.
Today is the 202nd anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe—the perfect day to announce the nominees for the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Awards (honoring the best in the mystery genre). You can see the full list on the TheEdgars.com, but I thought I'd give a special shout out to a couple of the categories, both packed with BookPage favorites.
Nominees for Best Novel include:
Caught by Harlan Coben
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Faithful Place by Tana French
The Queen of Patpong by Timothy Hallinan
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
Nominees for Best First Novel by an American Author include:
In the Best Novel category, I've got my fingers crossed for Tom Franklin's atmospheric page-turner, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. (Okay—maybe I'm biased because I interviewed the guy in person.) In the other category, I'd be thrilled to see Paul Doiron take home the prize. After mystery columnist Bruce Tierney declared The Poacher's Son to be "one of the best debut novels in recent memory," I asked Doiron to write a guest post on how he came to write about the Maine wilderness. Check it out here.
The winners will be announced on April 28 in New York City . . . what books are you rooting for?
After last week's Newbery and Caldecott announcements at ALA Midwinter, we have been dying to hear from the big winners.
Clare Vanderpool won the Newbery Medal for Moon Over Manifest, the Depression-era story of 12-year-old Abilene Tucker, and Erin E. Stead won the Caldecott Medal for A Sick Day for Amos McGee, described in BookPage as "a heart-warming story, comforting without a lot of fuss."
Today, both winners answered seven of our most pressing questions. Like: Are they nervous about writing an acceptance speech? What was the first thing to go through their heads when they found out they had won? Who provides inspiration? And perhaps my favorite question: Which book character would be the best desert island companion?
What would you like to ask the Newbery and Caldecott winners?
This morning's edition of Reading Corner highlights several award-winning children's books—from the recent Caldecott winner A Sick Day for Amos McGee to Black Radishes, a new middle grade novel that was named a Sydney Taylor Honor Book for its authentic portrayal of the Jewish experience.
What is your favorite award-winning children's book?
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you already know my answer: anything by Madeleine L'Engle. Favorites include A Ring of Endless Light (Newbery Honor Book, 1981) and A Wrinkle in Time (Newbery Award, 1962).
Speaking of award winners, Judy Blume has won too many accolades to name. Currently, Random House's Listening Library is running a contest which might win you a personalized message from Judy herself!—not to mention an iPod Touch. Check it out here.
Yesterday morning, the American Library Association announced the best books of the year for children and teens. I look forward to this annoucement all year because some of my favorite books of all time are Newbery winners (from Island of the Blue Dolphins to The View from Saturday), and as an elementary school kid I made an effort to read as many past winners as possible.
Over at A Fuse #8 Production (the School Library Journal-hosted blog), Betsy Bird wrote an interesting post about Newbery/Caldecott trends. For example, 2008 was The Year of Breaking Barriers (when awards went to Hugo Cabret and Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!) and last year was The Year of the Givens (The Lion and the Mouse and When You Reach Me). Bird accurately predicted that 2011 would be The Year of the Wild Cards.
Like many bloggers (including Bird), I was rooting for Rita Williams-Garcia to take home the big prize (the Newbery) for One Crazy Summer. BookPage interviewed Williams-Garcia back in February 2010 and praised the author's "gift for combining everyday settings with social commentary and wry wit." One Crazy Summer ended up receiving a Newbery Honor (nothing to frown on), along with the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award, not to mention the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.
The major surprises at the Youth Media Awards were that the Newbery and Caldecott went to a debut novelist and a debut picture book illustrator. Clare Vanderpool, the Newbery winner for Moon Over Manifest, a Depression-era story, lives in Kansas. Erin E. Stead, a 28-year-old illustrator in Ann Arbor, won the Caldecott for A Sick Day for Amos McGee, which was written by her husband Philip.
Even though I was surprised by this year's announcement, I'm still happy with how things turned out. I haven't read Moon Over Manifest, but now I can't wait to get my hands on it. It's always fun to be introduced to new talent.
Were you surprised by this year's big winners? Excited?
Below the jump, find the list of winners and honorees for the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz and Coretta Scott King Awards:
Newbery Medal "for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature":
Winner: Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Honors: Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm; Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus; Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman; One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Caldecott Medal "for the most distinguished American picture book for children":
Winner: A Sick Day for Amos McGee illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Honors: Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave illustrated by Bryan Collier; Interrupting Chicken, written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein
Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award"recognizing an African American author of outstanding books for children and young adults":