Last night, the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation awarded 10 Whiting Awards. Since 1985, these honors have gone annually to emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and plays. The award comes with $50,000 and is "based on accomplishment and promise."
Though you may have never heard of some of the recipients, these people are writers to watch. For proof, just look at the list of past winners: Jonathan Franzen (1988), Justin Cronin (2002), Kim Edwards (2002), Daniel Alarcon (2004), Yiyun Li (2006), Allegra Goodman (1991), Michael Cunningham (1995) and many other best-selling authors and iterary superstars.
Michael Dahlie, A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living
Rattawut Lapcharoensap, Sightseeing
Lydia Peelle, Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing (and a Nashville resident!)
Elif Batuman, The Possessed
Amy Leach, writing a book of essays about animals, plants and stars
Said Sayrafiezadeh, When Skateboards Will Be Free
Matt Donovan, Vellum
Jane Springer, Dear Blackbird
L. B. Thompson, Tendered Notes (a chapbook)
David Adjmi, Stunning
What other writers are on your "to-watch" list?
Pat Conroy announced the National Book Award Finalists today at the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home in Savannah, Georgia.
There are certainly some surprises on the list—small press representation; an absence of Jonathan Franzen; the presence of rocker Patti Smith—along with a few BookPage favorites, like Nicole Krauss, Lionel Shriver and Rita Williams-Garcia.
According to an announcement from the National Book Foundation, this year's bunch of Finalists includes 13 women—"the largest number of women Finalists in a single year in the Awards' history."
Without further ado, here is the list. Click the links to read BookPage reviews.
Peter Carey, Parrot and Olivier in America (Knopf)
Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule (McPherson & Co.)
Nicole Krauss, Great House (Norton)
Lionel Shriver, So Much for That (Harper)
Karen Tei Yamashita, I Hotel (Coffee House Press)
Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea (Spiegel & Grau)
John W. Dower, Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, Iraq
Patti Smith, Just Kids (Ecco)
Justin Spring, Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward (FSG)
Megan K. Stack, Every Man in This Village Is a Liar: An Education in War (Doubleday)
Kathleen Graber, The Eternal City (Princeton University Press)
Terrance Hayes, Lighthead (Viking Penguin)
James Richardson, By the Numbers (Copper Canyon Press)
C.D. Wright, One with Others (Copper Canyon Press)
Monica Youn, Ignatz (Four Way Books)
Young People's Literature
Paolo Bacigalupi, Ship Breaker (Little, Brown & Co.)
Kathryn Erskine, Mockingbird (Philomel Books)
Laura McNeal, Dark Water (Alfred A. Knopf)
Walter Dean Myers, Lockdown (Amistad)
Rita Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer (Amistad)
Which books do you hope will win? What books did not make the list that should have?
Winners will be announced on November 17 in New York.
Another surprise prizewinner for the 2010 season: Howard Jacobson nabs the Man Booker Prize for The Finkler Question, just published today in the U.S.
Betting on the prize in the U.K. had to be closed early after they got a flood of bids on Tom McCarthy's C, but apparently Jacobson's novel exploring "what it means to be Jewish today in the UK" took the prize in a 3-2 vote. Andrew Motion, Chair judge of the committee, says that "The Finkler Question is a marvellous book: very funny, of course, but also very clever, very sad and very subtle. It is all that it seems to be and much more than it seems to be. A completely worthy winner of this great prize" of 50,000 pounds (about $79,000).
Check back on Monday for an excerpt from the book—and a chance to win your own copy.
dark horse Mario Vargas Llosa, a 74-year-old Peruvian novelist whose work runs the gamut from plays to literary fiction to essays to mysteries (our Whodunit columnist, Bruce Tierney, reviewed his 2001 thriller The Feast of the Goat).
The Academy praised Llosa “for his cartography of the structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat.”
Like the work of other recent Nobel winners, Llosa's writing often has a political angle—not surprising, considering his interest in the subject ran deep enough for him to launch an unsuccessful bid for the Peruvian presidency in 1990. He is currently working as a Latin American Studies professor at Princeton.
Anyone getting up early tomorrow to watch a webcast of the Nobel Prize announcement?
You can start getting excited for BookPage's "Best of 2010" lists—coming in December!
This past week has brought us news of two major awards:
Miéville's "The City & The City is a murder mystery, old-fashioned in its way, narrated by a tough-talking police investigator and layered with all the shadow and menace of a film noir." (BookPage, June 2009)
And how's this for premonition? From the September 2009 issue of BookPage: Bacigalupi's "The Windup Girl will almost certainly be the most important SF novel of the year for its willingness to confront the most cherished notions of the genre, namely that our future is bright and we will overcome our selfish, cruel nature."
Click here to read the complete list of Hugo winners. What SF&F book would you rank at the top?
The Man Booker Prize shortlist was announced on Sept. 7. The Man Booker honors the best novel (written in English) published by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland or Zimbabwe. Here's the shortlist, narrowed down from a longlist of 13:
Peter Carey for Parrot and Olivier in America
Emma Donoghue for Room
Damon Galgut for In a Strange Room
Howard Jacobson for The Finkler Question
Andrea Levy for The Long Song
Tom McCarthy for C
Each of these novels is currently available in hardcover, with the exception of The Finkler Question, which is available on a Kindle.
Got any predictions for the award? The big winner will be announced on October 12. (I'll admit that I'm rooting for Room.)
Here in Nashville, we're still mourning the loss of the RWA 2010 convention, but the RITA and Golden Heart winners have a lot to celebrate. We were especially pleased to see Kristan Higgins' Too Good to Be True get the nod for Best Contemporary Romance (read our interview with Higgins for The Next Best Thing). Former BookPage columnist Barbara O'Neal's The Lost Recipe for Happiness (read our review) took home the trophy for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Element.
Click on over to the RWA site for the full list of winners.
At what other formal occasion would you take a seat at your table in a grand ballroom and be greeted by a gaggle of giraffes on top of your plate?
Only at the Newbery Caldecott Banquet, an annual event honoring the best in children's literature. This year's banquet was held Sunday night in Washington, D.C. as part of the American Library Association's annual conference, and Kate and I were thrilled to be among the hundreds in attendance. Changing quickly out of our convention clothes into something spiffier, we rushed over to the Hilton and took our seats at a fun table with BookPage husband-and-wife super reviewers Dean Schneider (2008 Newbery Committee member) and Robin Smith (2011 Caldecott Committee member).
After dinner, librarians, authors, illustrators, publishing industry pros and others who love children's books listened with rapt attention as Rebecca Stead accepted the Newbery Medal for When You Reach Me and Jerry Pinkney accepted the Caldecott Medal for The Lion & the Mouse. The Newbery honors the "most distinguished American children's book" of the previous year, while the Caldecott goes to "the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children." Though both award winners were announced in January, the summer banquet and acceptance speeches are a cherished tradition that give children's authors and illustrators a chance to shine.
And shine they did. A gracious Jerry Pinkney, who's 70 years old and has been illustrating children's books since 1964, joked about being a five-time Caldecott Honor recipient (the runner-up award). When Caldecott Committee Chair Rita Auerbach called early on a January morning with the announcement that he had won the Caldecott, Pinkney said he waited anxiously for her to add the word "Honor." When she didn't -- and it finally dawned on him that he had won the big one -- Pinkney turned from the phone to share the exciting news with Gloria, his wife of 50 years.
Pinkney's winning book takes young readers to the plains of the Serengeti for what Auerbach called "a stunning and caring retelling of a classic tale." Since The Lion & The Mouse is a wordless picture book, Pinkney said, illustrator Mo Willems advised him to give a wordless acceptance speech. He passed on that suggestion, and instead gave listeners an introduction to his creative process, noting that he is "just as excited today as he was 50 years ago," when he was illustrating his first book. In a wordless book, Pinkney said, "it's about what you discover in the images. Each reader is free to take his or her own journey through the pages." And what a beautiful journey it is, reproduced in miniature in the illustrations that graced the evening's program.
Next up at the speaker's podium was Rebecca Stead, who was honored for what Newbery Committee chair Katie O'Dell described as a "highly original, brilliantly crafted novel," When You Reach Me. "I wanted to write a great speech," Stead said. "I wanted you to know the kind of happiness I felt on the morning of January 18." But having been warned by a friendly librarian that she should keep her remarks as short as possible (and having given the librarian a flashlight to wave from the audience if she talked too long) Stead decided instead to give what she called four short speeches: on becoming a storyteller, on the creation of When You Reach Me, on getting the Newbery news and on being grateful.
"Like many people who secretly want to write, I became a lawyer," she told the crowd with a laugh, relating her personal journey from a childhood where books held a special place to a writing workshop where an editor spotted her talent. She touched on some of the elements from her own life that inspired When You Reach Me (including her work in a Subway sandwich shop) and explained that, ultimately the book is more about exploring "the mysteries of life" than about time travel. Finally, Stead saluted many of those she is grateful to, from her agent and editor, to the members of the Newbery Committee (for "a lightning bolt of joy"), to illustrator Sophie Blackall ("for the gift of her gorgeous cover art") to librarians everywhere ("the smartest, funniest, most open-minded people I have ever met"). Stead's presentation was self-effacing, sometimes hilarious and extremely touching. We can't wait for her next book, though we hear she's been so overwhelmed by the Newbery hoopla she'll only now have a chance to start writing again.
Congratulations also to Newbery Honor winners Phillip Hoose (Claudette Colvin); Jacqueline Kelly (The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate): Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon); and Rodman Philbrick (The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg); and to Caldecott Honor recipients Marla Frazee (All the World) and Pamela Zagarenski (Red Sings from Treetops).
It was a wonderful night for listening to inspiring authors, and for spotting many others in the audience (Libba Bray, John Green, Linda Sue Park, Brian Selznick and Jon Scieska, to name but a few). I'm already looking forward to next year's banquet in New Orleans!
Yesterday Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book—which won the Newbery Medal in 2009—took home The Carnegie Medal in Literature. The Carnegie is the UK's most prestigious children's book award, and according to Gaiman in his acceptance speech, it's also the most important book award that exists—since it was the first literary award he became familiar with when he read C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle.
Gaiman is the first author to win both the Carnegie and the Newbery.
For more on The Graveyard Book, read a review in BookPage—in which Angela Leeper praises Gaiman's "sharp, spine-tingling storytelling." Also, watch Gaiman's acceptance speech or the embedded video below of Gaiman talking about the award.
Did you enjoy The Graveyard Book?
The Audie Awards were given out last night in New York City, and the biggest prize—Audiobook of the Year—went to Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales. (Read more about this book and listen to an excerpt.)
Mandela and the 23 artists who participated in this recording must be pretty pleased to have beaten out the Bible and Patrick Swayze. We're guessing that the talented readers combined with the fact that 100% of the proceeds from the audiobook go to a nonprofit working in South Africa and the U.S. to combat HIV/AIDS and The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, convinced judges that this one deserved the prize.