Today the final National Book Award category longlist was announced. For the authors involved, that means it's time for nervous hand-wringing to commence. For readers, well, it's time to dig into those lists and start reading, dissecting the judges' motives and/or rooting for your favorite . . . which is exactly what we're doing at BookPage! Read on for the behind-the-scenes action.
I’m pulling for young, experimental poet Maureen N. McLane—third er, collection’s the charm, right? The New York University English professor blends lush natural imagery with pointed, contemporary syntax in This Blue. At once playful and profoundly sobering, these poems examine mankind’s history and our tendency to exploit and abuse the beauty of our earth. Now is the perfect time to dive in if you missed this fantastic collection during National Poetry Month.
—Hilli Levin, Editorial Assistant
Looking at the NBA’s nonfiction longlist reminds me of the old “Sesame Street” song: One of these things is not like the others. Roz Chast’s hilarious and moving graphic memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, stands out from a crowd of traditional narrative history and biography. Could Chast emerge as the winner? It seems highly unlikely, but I’m thrilled to see her deeply personal look at the perils of aging among this year’s contenders.
—Lynn Green, Editor
One farm. One family. One hundred years. Jane Smiley is taking on a seriously ambitious literary project with her Last Hundred Years trilogy, so it doesn’t surprise me a bit that the first novel, Some Luck, grabbed a spot on the NBA longlist this year. This installment takes us through the life of the Langdons from 1920 to 1953, and if the next two books are anywhere near as marvelously executed, then don’t be surprised if the critical praise and award nominations continue to flow her way.
—Hilli Levin, Editorial Assistant
It might feel shocking to see John Darnielle, a man most famous for being the lead singer of The Mountain Goats, on the NBA longlist for his first novel, Wolf in White Van. But when you consider the fact that his lyrics might as well be poetry or short stories, it's really not that surprising. Blame it on my love of the underdog, but I'm hoping for a win for this musician-turned-novelist.
I'm also rooting for Molly Antopol and her quietly beautiful collection of short stories, The UnAmericans, because, well, wow. She's under 35 and this is her debut work of fiction. I'm under 35 and I just googled "how to handwash stuff" so I find this immensely impressive.
—Lily McLemore, Assistant Editor
As the fiction editor at BookPage, I'm starting to have a visceral reaction to the descriptor "post-apocalyptic fiction." But Canadian author Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven brings a breath of fresh air to the genre with her fourth novel, a beautiful and deeply felt story that uses its dystopian setting to explore our very human need for shared culture, art and stories. Here's hoping this original and insightful work moves on to the shortlist.
—Trisha Ping, Managing Editor
It’s no surprise to see Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir-in-verse, Brown Girl Dreaming, on this list, and you’ll likely see it on several more award lists before the end of the year. Her accessible and poignant story shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and ’70s in a country “caught / between Black and White” and how writing helped her find her voice.
Also, is there any living writer who better captures the hilarity, messiness (sexual, social and emotional) and adventure of being a teenage boy than Andrew Smith? Not likely. Although I thought Grasshopper Jungle was the better of his two books that came out this year, 100 Sideways Miles is another winner—and it’s about time Smith was publicly and widely recognized for his talent.
—Cat Acree, Associate Editor
This morning, the PEN/American Center released the shortlist for their annual awards, which are some of the most lucrative (and therefore most coveted!) in the United States. The 18 awards cover categories from debut fiction to science writing to essays, and this year the various judging panels included the likes of Cheryl Strayed, Jonathan Dee, Terry McMillan, Ariel Levy, E.L. Doctorow and Zadie Smith.
Here are the shortlists for some of the bigger prizes; for the full list of finalists visit PEN's site. Which books are you rooting for?
PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000 to the author of a debut work of fiction)
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
Brief Encounters With the Enemy by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
Everybody’s Irish by Ian Stansel
Godforsaken Idaho by Shawn Vestal
The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000 award)
PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5000 award)
Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson
Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore by Linda Leavell
Margaret Fuller by Megan Marshall
American Mirror by Deborah Solomon
A Life of Barbara Stanwyck (Volume 1) by Victoria Wilson.
Yesterday the winner of the 2014
Orange Bailey's Prize for Women's Fiction was announced, and it was a bit of a dark horse: debut author Eimear McBride's modernist masterpiece, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing.
The Irish author, who is 38, snagged the prize despite a highly competitive shortlist that included Jhumpa Lahiri, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Donna Tartt, as well as the acclaimed debut Burial Rites.
Published in the Commonwealth last year, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing is a challenging stream-of-consciouness narrative, told from the perspective of a young girl, that proved a tough sell: McBride spent most of a decade shopping it around before finding a home with Norwich's Galley Beggar Press. But its vital, visceral voice—one UK reviewer called the book "an instant classic"—proved impossible for the judges to ignore.
In her announcement, judge chair Helen Fraser called the book, “An amazing and ambitious first novel that impressed the judges with its inventiveness and energy. This is an extraordinary new voice—this novel will move and astonish the reader.”
A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing will be published in the U.S. in September by Coffee House Press. Will you read it?
The 2014 Edgar Allan Poe Award winners—honoring the very best in mystery fiction, nonfiction and television published or produced in 2013—have been announced! The Edgars are awarded annually by the Mystery Writers of America. A few highlights:
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (Simon & Schuster)
BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews (Scribner)
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood (Penguin)
BEST FACT CRIME
The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower (Minotaur)
One Came Home by Amy Timberlake (Knopf)
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher (Little, Brown)
MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman (Ballantine)
View the full list of nominees and winners here.
Did your favorites win?
“A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are.”
Find the list of winners in all categories here.
Love is in the air . . . love of romance books, that is. This week, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) announced the finalists for the 2014 RITA and Golden Heart Awards. A big congratulations goes to our very own romance columnist, Christie Ridgway, whose Beach House No. 9 is up for a Best Contemporary Romance RITA! Check out our interview with Christie about the book.
Other RITA finalists include veterans Jill Shalvis (nominated twice, for It Had to Be You and Rumor Has It), Nora Roberts (for Whiskey Beach), Elizabeth Hoyt (for Duke of Midnight), along with relative newcomers Sarah MacLean (for No Good Duke Goes Unpunished) and Bella Andre (for The Way You Look Tonight).
The Golden Heart Awards recognize excellence in novels or novellas that have not yet been published, with finalists in eight categories chosen from more than 1,000 manuscript entries each year.
Check out the complete list of finalists here. Winners will be announced at a black-tie gala at the RWA annual conference in San Antonio on July 26. Which books are you rooting for?
Listen up! The Audio Publishers Association has announced the nominees for the 2014 Audie Awards across 29 categories. Two of our own here at BookPage—Julia Steele, our associate publisher, and Sukey Howard, contributing editor who writes our Audio column—will be serving as judges this year, and we certainly don't envy their having to select just one winner from all of the nominees, which include:
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (read by Will Patton)
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (read by George Guidall)
The Good House by Ann Leary (read by Mary Beth Hurth)
The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler (read by Tavia Gilbert)
Jacob's Oath by Martin Fletcher (read by Ari Fliakos)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (read by Neil Gaiman)
Amy Falls Down by Jincy Willett (read by Amy McFadden)
The Curiosity by Stephen P. Kiernan (read by Kate Udall, George Guidall, Jason Culp, Erik Bergmann)
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (read by David Pittu)
The Son by Philipp Meyer (read by Will Patton, Scott Shepherd, Kate Mulgrew, Clifton Collins Jr.)
The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín (read by Meryl Streep)
White Dog Fell From the Sky by Eleanor Morse (read by Carla Mercer-Meyer)
Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill (read by Sandy Rustin)
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell (read by Malcolm Gladwell)
The End of Nature by Bill McKibben (read by Jeff Woodman)
The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti (read by L.J. Gasner)
Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel (read by Arthur Bishop)
C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race by Geoff Williams (read by Robertson Dean)
Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King (read by Peter Francis James)
Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff (read by Mitchell Zuckoff)
The Hour of Peril by Daniel Stashower (read by Edoardo Ballerini)
Nero's Killing Machine by Stephen Dando-Collins (read by Robert Fass)
One Summer by Bill Bryson (read by Bill Bryson)
See the full list of nominees here. Winners will be announced at a gala in New York City on May 29. Which books will you be rooting for?
We always look forward to the Newbery, Caldecott and Printz Awards, and this morning was filled with delight (and some surprise!) over this year's recipients.
We're perhaps most ecstatic that Kate DiCamillo won the 2014 Newbery Medal for Flora & Ulysses, the adventurous, hilarious story of a cynical, comic-loving girl who befriends a most unusual squirrel. (We were looking forward to this one several months before it came out; watch us chat with DiCamillo about seal blubber, poetry and giant donuts here.)
Mad props to our teen literature expert, Jill Ratzan, for predicting the Printz winner! She shared her prediction for Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick, saying, "Midwinterblood makes its readers work hard to uncover its secrets. That makes it a top Printz contender in my book." Seven intertwined narratives, full of blood and magic, unfold in reverse chronological order on a mysterious, remote island.
We are also tickled that Brian Floca won the Caldecott Medal for Locomotive, a gorgeous picture book about the beginnings of the transcontinental railroad in the United States.
Here's a (partial) list of the 2014 Youth Media Award winners. Find the full list here, and click the links below to read coverage in BookPage.
2014 CALDECOTT MEDAL
Locomotive by Brian Floca (Atheneum)
CALDECOTT HONOR BOOKS:
2014 NEWBERY MEDAL
Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick)
NEWBERY HONOR BOOKS:
2014 PRINTZ AWARD
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (Roaring Brook)
PRINTZ HONOR BOOKS:
MARGARET A. EDWARDS AWARD (lifetime achievement in writing for young adults)
Markus Zusak (The Book Thief)
So, what do you think, readers? We're definitely thrilled by some, surprised by others.
For even more recommendations for fantastic children's and teen books, see our list of the Best Children's Books for 2013.
• Publishers Weekly asked 20 children's books editors to share some behind-the-scenes stories about their experiences editing some true classics, including The Napping House and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.
• On Buzzfeed, a whole slew of authors offer up advice on how they combat writer's block and how they got their first books published.
• As you've likely heard by now, James McBride's National Book Award win for The Good Lord Bird was a surprise to many. Vulture published this dishy history of the ups and downs of the award's 64-year history.
The wait is almost over, book lovers! Tomorrow is the 2013 National Book Awards gala, during which one winning book will be named in each of four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature.
This evening, the finalists—instead of merely twiddling their thumbs in nervous anticipation of tomorrow—will be reading from their nominated books at an event to be held at the New School in New York City. If the idea of all of those stellar authors in one room sends you into a swoon, fret not. You can watch the whole thing as it's streamed live online! The readings begin at 7:00 pm (EST) right here.
To catch up on everything NBA—including interviews with the finalists—click on the image below. Which books are you rooting for?