On Saturday, the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) announced the finalists for its awards honoring books published in 2009. The awards ceremony will be on March 12. The board of directors of the NBCC nominates and votes on the books. (See a list of that group here.)
Click the highlighted titles for books reviewed in BookPage. See a full list of the nominees, which also include criticism and poetry. Which books are you rooting for to win?
Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage
Marlon James, The Book of Night Women
Michelle Huneven, Blame
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
Jayne Anne Phillips, Lark and Termite
Wendy Doniger, The Hindus: An Alternative History
Greg Grandin, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City
Richard Holmes, The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science
Tracy Kidder, Strength in What Remains
William T. Vollmann, Imperial
Diana Athill, Somewhere Towards the End
Debra Gwartney, Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love
Mary Karr, Lit
Kati Marton, Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America
Edmund White, City Boy
Blake Bailey, Cheever: A Life
Brad Gooch, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor
Benjamin Moser, Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector
Stanislao G. Pugliese, Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone
Martha A. Sandweiss, Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line
Joyce Carol Oates will be honored with the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. Read a handwritten interview with Oates in BookPage, in which the author tells us about her inspiration, favorite activity and whether it's possible for humans to be happy.
Congratulations, Erin! You are the winner of our teaser galley of The Passage. (Click here to read our original post about this buzz-generating book.) Please e-mail me at eliza at bookpage dot com in order to claim your prize.
Read a review in BookPage of Erin's favorite “end of the world” novel: The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier. Reviewer Becky Ohlsen wrote of the novel: "The book may serve as an indictment of such contemporary threats as biological weapons and unfettered corporate power, but it's also simply a beautiful story."
We’re working to improve our coverage of new books — and we need your help. We’re asking readers to fill out a short survey about BookPage. That might sound boring. . . but there’s more:
If you fill out the survey, you could win. . . A YEAR’S WORTH OF BOOKS!
One new book a week, for a year. That’s right—52 free books. Click the graphic below to enter. Good luck!
2nd Place: 10 books
Ten Runners-up: $10 gift card
Survey ends February 28, 2010
French graphic novelist Joann Sfar, best known for comics like the acclaimed Rabbi's Cat, is moving into a new medium in 2010. His first project: A biopic of French singer Serge Gainsbourg, which has debuted to rave reviews in France.
Serge Gainsbourg: La Vie Heroique takes a non-traditional approach—using special effects by the team that worked on Pan's Labyrinth, Sfar has created an exaggerated alter ego, played by actor Doug Jones, for the famous singer. The actual Gainsbourg is played brilliantly by French stage actor Eric Elmosnino, while British actress Lucy Gordon plays his muse and eventual wife, Jane Birkin (Sfar dedicated the film to Gordon, who sadly committed suicide in May 2009). Supermodel Laetitia Casta takes a turn as Brigitte Bardot.
Gainsbourg's exploits with women are well-known, but Sfar also takes on his early years growing up as a Jewish child in Vichy France who narrowly escaped deportation. An article in The Independent provides many interesting details on the production—most notably, that Sfar originally asked Gainsbourg's daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, to play her father.
Sfar's next film project will be based on his own work: The Rabbi's Cat comes to the big screen in 2010, as a 2D-animated film aimed at both adults and children. This charming story, set in 1930s Algeria, is about a merchant, his beautiful daughter, and their cat—who, after eating a parrot, can speak. (Sfar told the Wall Street Journal that the cat was based on his own pet.) An exact release date is still to be announced.
Related in BookPage: reviews of Sfar's graphic novels.
Natural disasters force us to think about man vs. nature, a conflict that is no doubt in many of our minds as we watch devastating footage from Haiti.
Considering this, I attended historian Jeffrey Jackson’s talk at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Nashville with great interest. Jackson’s latest book (published January 5 by Palgrave Macmillan) is titled Paris Under Water: How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910.
The Flood of 1910 is fascinating because it has long existed, in the words of Jackson, “in the realm of myth and legend.” The author argues that because the flood occurred in 1910—between the Dreyfus affair (a political scandal that divided France) and World War I—it has faded into the background of more prominent historical events.
Most Parisians’ knowledge of the Flood is based on postcard images, which remain collectable. According to Jackson, prior to his publication there was only one book on the event—a picture book from 1997—although families do pass down stories of how their ancestors dealt with the rising waters. Jackson explained: “[The Flood] is not totally forgotten, but not totally remembered.”
In Paris Under Water, Jackson explores how communities came together and, against all odds, saved Paris in the midst of collapsing infrastructure, looters and failed electricity and public transportation. Although media images from natural disasters typically represent chaos, Jackson explained that in uncontrollable, dangerous situations “people generally pull together. . . collaborate to save themselves.”
Although he promises no bullet-pointed list of “what to do in a disaster,” Jackson did say that his research has made him think about “how and why communities are viable, how communities form.”
Read Jackson’s book for yourself to learn why the Great Flood of 1910 was a “perfect storm situation,” and how Parisians triumphed over nature to save the city they loved. This book has contemporary relevance and incredible detail. For a preview, visit Jackson’s website: Paris Under Water.
Anyone interested in urban planning, disaster relief or French history would enjoy Paris Under Water — and lucky for you, we’re giving away an AUTOGRAPHED copy. Respond by Wednesday for a chance to win: What is your favorite work of nonfiction?
For another take on what happens after natural disaster, read journalist Jed Horne’s behind-the-book essay on Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City.
A new release from Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley is always a big deal, and Private Life, her first novel since 2007's Ten Days in the Hills, is no exception. The book, which will be published by Knopf on May 4, is a departure from Smiley's previous work—it's historical, a sweeping saga that spans the life of an American woman, from the 1880s to World War II.
Margaret Mayfield marries late, but she also marries up: Captain Andrew Jackson Jefferson Early is an influential person in their small Missouri town, one who is a military officer and a brilliant scientist/astronomer. Though Margaret realizes soon after their marriage that Andrew is more interested in his work than his wife, they stay together—until the start of World War II reveals a dark side to her husband's scientific work.
Will you be reading?
The Solitude of Prime Numbers, by Paolo Giordano, has sold more than 1 million copies in Italy, and Pamela Dorman—the force behind The Secret Life of Bees and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt—snagged the American rights for her eponymous imprint at Viking. After hearing all the buzz about this debut, which was penned by a 27-year-old physicist, I had to take a sneak peek. And folks: this one’s going to be good. I casually started reading before bed last night, and ended up waking up early to squeeze in some more pages. All I’ll say is that the opening chapters include a disaster on a ski slope and a REALLY bad decision in a park. And good news for everyone: Solitude is not really an April release, although we’ll cover it in our April issue. The pub date is March 18.
In 2000, Connie May Fowler told us that the world becomes a clearer place with stories, which are filled with magic and might. We’re hoping that her latest story, How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly, will live up to that lofty description. About an unexpected midlife awakening, we predict that How Clarissa will be a perfect pick for your book club. Read it on April 2.
Sue Miller’s 2003 memoir, The Story of My Father, was billed in BookPage as being “impossible to adequately praise.” We hope The Lake Shore Limited, her first novel since the bestseller The Senator’s Wife, will also blow us away. The novel is publicized as a “tour de force about the dislocations wrought in our lives by accidents of fate and time,” and in this case, the accident is a terrorist bombing of a train. Miller is a BookPage favorite, so we have high expectations for this April 6 release.
If you think it’s unfair for us to tease you with books that are coming out in two months, revisit some of our older posts about upcoming titles. The January books we previewed in August are out now. February books are coming soon (click here and here for previews). And March books are about a month away.
Which book are you most excited about?
Stay tuned for an April nonfiction preview. . .
For Outlander fans, this week brought good news and bad news. First, the good news: Last week, Diana Gabaldon sold the 8th book in the saga to her current publisher Delacorte. Bad news: The new book won't be published until 2013. But then, Gabaldon fans are used to waiting four years for a new installment. 600 pages weren't written in a day, after all. In an interview last fall, Gabaldon gave BookPage a peek into her writing process:
“I don’t write with an outline. In fact, I don’t write in a straight line. I write when I can see things happening. What I need on any given day to start writing is what I call a kernel. A line of dialogue, an emotional ambience, anything I can sense very concretely. I write very painstakingly in these little disconnected bits. But as I write these disconnected pieces, and I continue doing research and of course thinking about the book all the time, they begin to stick together. They develop little connections." (read the rest of the interview)
Author photo © Jennifer Watkins
If you read James Frey's much-contested memoir, A Million Little Pieces, or his followup novel, Bright Shiny Morning, and thought to yourself, This guy should be writing young adult books!—well, you were way ahead of me. But indeed, Frey and a co-writer, Jobie Hughes, signed a deal last summer with HarperCollins for their young adult science fiction novel I Am Number Four, the first in a projected six-book series.
Dreamworks immediately snapped up the film rights to I Am Number Four, which won't hit bookstores until this fall, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Initial reports named Michael Bay as a potential director, but the latest news is that D.J. Caruso, of Disturbia and Eagle Eye fame, has signed on to direct. (Bay will still produce the film.)
According to the New York Times, I Am Number Four is about "a group of nine alien teenagers on a planet called Lorien, which is attacked by a hostile race from another planet. The nine and their guardians evacuate to Earth, where three are killed. The protagonist, a Lorien boy named John Smith, hides in Paradise, Ohio, disguised as a human, trying to evade his predators and knowing he is next on their list."
What do you think about Frey's latest project? Why do you think he made the jump to the YA market? Are you looking forward to the book or the movie—or both?
Three months before the April 13 release date, the cover for Yann Martel's second novel has been revealed! And so, a monkey and a donkey in the desert take the place of a boy and a tiger on a life raft. Now, if we could only get galleys! (via)