Here at BookPage, we are anxiously awaiting tomorrow’s announcement for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Word on the street is that Amos Oz (Israeli author and political activist); Herta Müller (Romanian-born German novelist); and Americans Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Roth and Thomas Pynchon are in top contention – although who knows? Maybe it will go to a wild card (like Bob Dylan, whose odds are supposedly 25/1).
While you’re waiting for the announcement, check out this amusing webpage that details where certain Nobel Prize winners were when they got “The Magic Call” informing them of the big news.
Here, you can find some interesting Nobel Prize facts. A sample: From 1901 to 2008, there have been 36 female Nobel Laureates… and 757 men. The oldest Nobel Laureate was 90 (Leonid Hurwicz, for economics) The youngest was 25 (Lawrence Bragg, for Physics). Two Nobel Laureates have declined the Prize, including Jean-Paul Sartre, who won in 1964 for Literature.
Tomorrow at 1 p.m. Central European Time (that’s 6 a.m. in Nashville) there will be a live web cast of the announcement on the Nobel Prize website.
Any Book Case readers care to make a prediction?
As much as I enjoy graphic novels, my first love will always be old-school cartoons and comics—specifically, Archie Comics. (My feminist self recognizes the absurdity of Archie’s double-playing of Betty and Veronica, although I never would have gotten through childhood car trips without Archie Double Digests.)
Other than occasionally flipping through an Archie comic at the grocery store checkout line, I’d been out of the Riverdale loop for a while… until I spotted this article in yesterday’s New York Times: “Archie’s Destiny, as Shaped by Robert Frost.”
The article asks, “Is Archie Andrews a bigamist?” and details his proposal of marriage to Veronica... and Betty:
The wedding story was written by Michael E. Uslan and illustrated by Stan Goldberg, a longtime “Archie” artist. The first half was called “Archie Marries Veronica,” but issue No. 603, on sale next month, is called “Archie Marries Betty.” The end of bachelorhood began in issue No. 600, in which Archie found himself on a road named Memory Lane, which he has often traveled. This time he walked a different direction and encountered a fork in the road. He chose the left path, which allowed him to see his future with Veronica and their twins, and himself working for her tycoon father.
At the end of the October issue, No. 602, Archie goes for an evening stroll and encounters the fork again. In the November issue Archie will find himself back in Riverdale High, this time envisioning a future with Betty as his wife. (A set of twins factors into this destiny as well.)
Uslan said that there will be an ultimate fate for Archie, noting, “Everything they say, don’t say, every action they take and fail to take, is going to add up to determine which of these two roads are taken. And one of them will be.”
So, readers, here’s an important question for you to think about at the end of your day: Betty or Veronica?
And if Archie's not your thing, check out this extensive list of comics and graphic novels covered in BookPage through the years.
a riveting portrait of Thomas Cromwell, chief advisor to King Henry VIII and a significant political figure in Tudor England. Mantel’s crystalline style, piercing eye and interest in, shall we say, the darker side of human nature, together with a real respect for historical accuracy, make this novel an engrossing, enveloping read.
If you're in the mood for a laugh, or interested in the other finalists (most of which have yet to be published here, alas), don't miss Jim Crace's Digested Read of all six books.
p.s. see more on our News item.
In January, author Amy Bloom returns with her first work since 2007's much-lauded Away. The new book, Where the God of Love Hangs Out (Random House) will be an interconnected collection of short stories that "explores the unexpected patterns that all forms of love and loss weave into our lives"—at least, according to the catalog copy.
Away, which made several "Best Book of the Year" lists, was something of a comeback for Bloom, whose previous work of fiction, A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, was published in 2000. BookPage reviewer Arlene McKanic described Bloom's writing in Away as "clear, rich and shot through with moments of humor" that perhaps made it more accessible than the edgier tales of "people on the edge" she'd published previously.
We'll be interested to see where God of Love fits into Bloom's oeuvre. Title-wise, it seems more in line with her early works: of her first four works of fiction, two have the word "love" in the title.
Yesterday, the National Book Foundation announced the “5 Under 35” selections for 2009:
Now in its fourth year, "5 Under 35” has become the highly-anticipated kick-off event for National Book Awards week. In a nod to Brooklyn’s status as the literary epicenter of New York City, the Foundation has moved the event to the Powerhouse Arena in DUMBO. That evening, each author will be introduced by the writer who selected them.
C.E. Morgan’s gossamer debut novel, All the Living, tells a simple story with a graceful, probing style that elevates it far above simplicity. Chronicling a young woman’s self-discovery through the promise of love and the inevitable disappointments that ensue, Morgan’s spare but intense narrative is a poetic meditation that burrows to our most basic human emotions.
Our reviewer called the book a “startlingly original collection… [which] features graceful and seductive prose that transports the reader into surreal and yet utterly plausible realms."
As we posted yesterday in our News update, this weekend is one of the most anticipated literary events of the year for readers in the South. The Southern Festival of Books will descend on Nashville this Friday through Sunday.
The Festival is organized by Humanities Tennessee. According to the SFoB site:
The Festival annually welcomes more than 200 authors from throughout the nation and in every genre for readings, panel discussions and book signings. Book lovers have the opportunity to hear from and meet some of America's foremost writers in fiction, history, mystery, food, biography, travel, poetry and children's literature among others.
Inman Majors (1-2 p.m. on Friday) will discuss his third novel, The Millionaires, a “story of two small-town brothers who rise to dangerous big-city heights.” In the May edition of BookPage, Majors told us, “I think it was Faulkner who said that all writers are frustrated actors. So I loved waking up each morning and putting on a different character’s outfit each day.”
Trenton Lee Stewart (9-10 a.m. on Saturday), will speak about the latest installation in the Mysterious Benedict Society series: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma. (Disclosure: I reviewed this book and will be hosting the session at the Festival.) In this children’s adventure novel, four children “thoughtfully discuss actions and consequences, make sacrifices and explore themes of trust and forgiveness”… in addition to “cracking puzzles and battling the evil Mr. Curtain.”
Kate DiCamillo (10-11 a.m. on Saturday), the Newbury Award-winning author of The Tale of Despereaux, will read from her latest children’s book, The Magician’s Elephant. Our reviewer gave the book a rave review, writing: “Everything about this story is masterful. The prose is remarkably simple, with underpinnings of delicious dry humor.”
Robert Hicks (11-12 noon on Saturday) will discuss his novel, A Separate Country: “Part historical novel, part love letter to New Orleans, A Separate Country is the remarkable new novel by Robert Hicks, author of the bestseller The Widow of the South. Based on the real life of Confederate General John Bell Hood, the novel imagines Hood in the years after the war, crippled and trying to find peace despite his infamy.”
Jacquelyn Mitchard (11-12 noon on Saturday) will discuss her book No Time to Wave Goodbye. In a column from the September issue of BookPage, Mitchard wrote: No Time to Wave Goodbye takes up “where my first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, left off, 13 years ago. But it begins a series of new events, not a new take on old ones. What I learned from No Time to Wave Goodbye, other than that I could do this with dignity, was that I had the time of my life. I didn’t realize how vital these ancient characters still were. I didn’t recognize the places they inhabit in my writer’s heart.”
Alice Randall (12-1 p.m. on Saturday) will discuss Rebel Yell, “which brings together two hot-button issues—race and terrorism—in what Randall calls ‘a very grown-up novel.’” In an interview with BookPage, Randall said of a message in the book: “It is my experience that terrified people and terrified nations must hold tight to their courage, to their humanity, to their very willingness to die before they would do something wrong.”
Food lovers lost a 69-year-old companion today in Gourmet magazine. Condé Nast, the publishing company, announced that it will fold the culinary giant, along with magazines Cookie, Modern Bride and Elegant Bride.
We were saddened to hear the news at BookPage, particularly because of our longtime coverage of Gourmet cookbooks and Ruth Reichl, the magazine’s editor-in-chief.
Just this month, Sybil Pratt wrote about Gourmet Today in our cooking column. She wrote:
Gourmet began its illustrious career in 1941 and has become the magazine of record, the gold standard for food magazines. There are others to be sure, but Gourmet maintains its cachet and its excellence due, in good part, to Ruth Reichl’s leadership. Reichl, Gourmet’s famed editor-in-chief, edited The Gourmet Cookbook in 2004, the more-than-magnum opus compiled to celebrate the magazine’s 60th birthday. With more than 1,000 recipes, it was a grand retrospective that gathered the best of the best—retested, retasted and updated. Now, only five years later, the indomitable Gourmet team has done it again with Gourmet Today.
In a 2001 interview with BookPage about her memoir Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table, Reichl said, “You can't be a good cook if you don't have a generous soul and the impulse to take care of people… I only know two good cooks who are stingy in their souls.”
Our reviewer, Eve Zibart, wrote that “Reichl’s passion, humor, abandon, intelligence, whimsy and vital sense of food as culture have revolutionized a nation raised on Betty Crocker cookbooks and school cafeterias.”
In a company-wide memo, Condé Nast CEO Chuck Townsend wrote that “Gourmet magazine will cease monthly publication, but we will remain committed to the brand, retaining Gourmet’s book publishing and television programming, and Gourmet recipes on Epicurious.com.”
We may get to enjoy more Gourmet cookbooks, although the ink-and-paper magazine will be greatly missed.
To commemorate its legacy, prepare a meal from Gourmet Today. Thankfully, there are many options. Writes our reviewer: “Encyclopedic in an exciting way, there’s not a cooking category missing, from minty Mojitos to Zucchini Curry, Quail with Pomegranate Jus and an impressive Frozen Passion Fruit Meringue Cake.”
Any readers want to share a favorite Gourmet recipe?
Over the summer, I posted about the ABC series "Castle," about a novelist and a cop who form an unlikely partnership when the author decides to make the cop the model for the heroine of a new series. Well, season two is airing now—and more real-life authors appeared in the very first episode. I still get a kick out of seeing writers on TV, especially when Castle starts referring to plot points in their novels in order to get them to let him know where a "tattooed Russian mobster" is most likely to hang out.
But wait, there's more: "Richard Castle's" first mystery starring detective Nicki Heat went on sale—outside TV land—at the end of last month. And for a based-on-TV book, it's getting some great early reviews. (Perhaps those illustrious literary extras were also contributors?) You can watch a trailer here.
Would you read a book that's inspired by TV? Or if you already have, what's your favorite? As a dedicated viewer of the late, lamented (by me anyway) "Passions" I have to admit to checking out a copy of Hidden Passions back when it came out.
Well, King fans can rejoice because the wait is over; Scribner released the complete cover image today:
According to King’s publisher:
“The jacket concept for Under the Dome originated as an ambitious idea from the mind of Stephen King. The artwork is a combination of photographs, illustration, and a 3-D rendering. This is a departure form the direction of King’s most recent, illustrated covers.”
Thoughts on the cover? No doubt Scribner wanted something spectacular to pair with King’s 1,088-page novel. In May, Abby posted about the plot of Under the Dome: “Featuring more than 100 characters facing a menacing supernatural element in their small Maine town, early reads are comparing Under the Dome to King’s classic epic, The Stand.”
Click here for a listing of BookPage’s Stephen King coverage through the years, and happy reading on Nov. 10 -- when Under the Dome hits bookstores!
In a new video interview with The Guardian, Audrey Niffenegger reveals more tantalizing tidbits about the inspiration behind Her Fearful Symmetry, as well as atmospheric scenery from Highgate Cemetery.
As she told our interviewer, much of the novel was consciously structured along the lines of Victorian classics like The Woman in White—but a good bit was organic as well. It wasn't until she started writing about Elspeth that she realized the character needed to be a ghost. She tells The Guardian, "having killed this character before she even existed, I started trying to think who she might have been and what she was like . . . I really liked her, I thought she was interesting and cool and I wanted to write about her, but I had already killed her, so I thought right, OK, she's a ghost."
Of course, you'd have to check out our interview to see how Niffenegger feels about God and the film version of the Time Traveler's Wife. If you haven't read it yet, what are you waiting for?
And for anyone who's already finished Symmetry–what did you think? I'd love to discuss it with you.