Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

Knockin’ on Dylan’s Door

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

The NYT , as well as many other news sources, wonders if Bob Dylan will attend the Nobel Prize ceremony on December 10, noting that he has not made a public statement one way or the other and hasn’t mentioned the Award in his two performances since the announcement.

Dylan also hasn’t said anything to the Nobel committee. The paper reports that “the academy has been in contact with an associate of Mr. Dylan, but apparently not with the artist himself.” A spokesman for Dylan declined to comment.

If the past is prologue, there’s not much reason to worry he will spurn the award. According to the NYT, “Mr. Dylan, who may be a contrarian or may just be unpredictable, has turned up for far-lesser honors,” such as the Golden Globes.

Mick Jagger, who followed Dylan at one of his two shows since winning was far less reticent, saying “We have never shared the stage with a Nobel Prize winner before … Bob is like our own Walt Whitman.”

Nobel Laureate in Print

Monday, October 17th, 2016

9781451648768_40dbcReactions to Bob Dylan’s winning the Nobel Prize in Literature have been mostly favorable, mixed with a few objections that awarding the prize to a singer-songwriter takes much-needed attention away from books and reading. Anna North argues this viewpoint in the NYT, writing, “Bob Dylan does not need a Nobel Prize in Literature, but literature needs a Nobel Prize. This year, it won’t get one.”

The usual routine following the announcement of a new laureate is to try to determine if any of the author’s books are available in English and if they have been published in the US.

This year’s winner presents a different issue. While he writes in English, he has few books in print. Simon & Schuster, in the fortunate position of being about to release The Lyrics: 1961-2012, moved the publication date up a week to Nov. 1. A revised edition of the oversized volume published in 2014 at $299, it is now a more accessible $60.

Other than collections of lyrics, Dylan has published two books, both currently out of print. The first, in 1971, a widely panned collection of poetry and prose, Tarantula (Macmillan), which has since developed some supporters.

In 2004, he published the much more well-received memoir and best seller, Chronicles: Volume One (S&S). There’s been no news about the second in the planned three-part memoir since 2012, when Dylan told the Rolling Stone, “Let’s hope [it happens] … I’m always working on parts of it … it’s a lot of work. I don’t mind writing it, but it’s the rereading it and the time it takes to reread it – that for me is difficult.”

Nobel Prize in Literature Goes to Bob Dylan

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

9781451648768_40dbcFor the first time since 1993, when Toni Morrison won, the Nobel Prize in Literature goes to an American, Bob Dylan, for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

For years, Dylan has been on bettors’ lists, so often that has become a bit of a joke. Some people made out well betting on that joke this year. At one point, his odds were 50/1 and a headline in the New Republic a few days ago read, “Who Will Win the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature? Not Bob Dylan, that’s for sure.” As the story points out, the winner is notoriously difficult to predict.

Several books about Dylan’s songs are available in print, including one that was published last year:

Bob Dylan All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track
Philippe Margotin, Jean-Michel Guerdon (Black Dog & Leventhal)

Dylan expert Clinton Heylin published analyses of all of Dylan’s songs through 2008 in two volumes:

Revolution In The Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan: Vol. 1: 1957-73 (Chicago Review Press, 2009)

Still On The Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan: Vol. 2: 1974-2008 (Chicago Review Press, 2010; released in trade paperback in September)

Coming next month is a compilation of his lyrics:

The Lyrics: 1961-2012 by Bob Dylan, (S&S) — cover, above

Finally, the Final Finalists

Monday, October 10th, 2016

news-world All That Man Is 9780393609882_59ec7

The final three of the finalists for major book awards in fiction have just been released and are getting media attention.

Selected as the number one LibraryReads pick for October, News of the World by Paulette Jiles (HarperCollins/Morrow; Brilliance Audio) is one of five finalists for the National Book Awards in fiction. Entertainment Weekly hails it this week on their “Must List,” saying, “Jiles’ gorgeously written novel … follows a retired soldier in 1870 tasked with bringing a kidnapped 10-year-old girl to her faraway relatives after her rescue.”

Just released in the US., the Man Booker finalist, David Szalay’s All That Man Is (Graywolf; OverDrive Sample) gets double coverage from the New York Times. Dwight Garner in the daily paper uses an arresting analogy, “you climb into … All That Man Is, as if into an understated luxury car. The book has a large, hammerlike engine, yet it is content to purr. There’s a sense of enormous power held in reserve.” He notes the book is not actually a novel, but “closer to a collection of linked short stories,” In the Sunday Book Review, author Garth Greenwell, whose debut novel What Belongs to You (Macmillan/FSG; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample) is a National Book Award finalists, writes, “there’s very little explicitly interlinking its separate narratives. The stories cohere instead through their single project: an investigation of European manhood. ” The New Yorker ‘s esteemed critic James Wood goes further, saying that Szalay is “The latest novelist to give voice to what he has called a ‘disaffection with the novel form,’ ”and that the result “takes the novel form and shakes out of it a few essential seeds.”

Tthe last of the Booker finalists to be published in the US arrives this week, Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien, (Norton; OverDrive Sample; Recorded Books audio coming in April).  Publishers Weekly gave it a star, but it has not yet been reviewed in the US consumer press [Update: The Wall Street Journal reviews it, calling it “elegant”]. Earlier this summer, Canada’s The Globe and Mail wrote that the book “cements Madeleine Thien as one of Canada’s most talented novelists” with a “gorgeous intergenerational saga, stretching as far back at the 1940s and traversing China” told from the perspective of a woman living in present-day Vancouver, who begins the book with the story of her father’s suicide.

The winner of the Man Booker will be announced on Oct. 25, the National Book Awards on Nov. 16.

National Book Awards Shortlists Revealed

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

bookaward_sq-9155c02d0c32104fed0b09f295badf6a95776e2d-s6-c30The 2016 shortlists for the National Book Awards have just been posted on the New Yorker site.

Tweet your opinions on the selections using #nbawards.

Winners will be announced on Nov. 16.

Awards Season Cheat Sheet

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

francis-h-c-crick-nobel-prize-medal-1  the_man_booker_prize_2015_logonba-winner-400

Many major book awards will be announced soon. The New York Times offers a guide to the contenders, beginning with the Nobel Prize in Literature, to be announced a week later than usual this year, on Oct. 13. It’s the most difficult to predict, both because the voting process is secretive and because the prize is often awarded less for literary excellence than for political reasons. As Philip Roth, a perennial contender, once remarked, “I wonder if I had called ‘Portnoy’s Complaint’ ‘The Orgasm Under Rapacious Capitalism,’ if I would thereby have earned the favor of the Swedish Academy.” With so little to go on, the NYT reports on betting in the U.K., which is led by usual suspect Haruki Murakami and the Syrian poet Adonis.

The Man Booker Prize, which will be announced on Oct. 25, is easier because the judges have announced a shortlist of six titles. The two U.S. contenders were published here in 2015 (as a U.K. award, eligibility is based on U.K. publication dates) and have track records. The Sellout by Paul Blatty (Macmillan/FSG, 3/3/15; OverDrive Sample) won the National Book Critics Circle Award last year and Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen (PRH/Penguin; OverDrive Sample; 8/18/15) was on the shortlist. On the other hand, David Szalay’s  All That Man Is (Macmillan/Graywolf; OverDrive Sample; 10/4/16) has just been released here and is just beginning to receive consumer reviews. The NYT does not hazard a guess at who will win.

The U.K.’s Guardian offers analyses of the list from the perspective of one of the judges, who claims to love them all, and from the odds makers who put Deborah Levy in the lead for Hot Milk (Macmillan/Bloomsbury USA; OverDrive Sample; 7/12/16), described by the judge as “like Virginia Woolf with good jokes.” Don’t take much stock in the odds, however, as the Guardian notes, “the frontrunner hardly ever wins.”

The fiction and nonfiction longlists for National Book Awards are also analyzed, but not the poetry and young people’s lit. longlists. The shortlists will be announced on Oct. 6.

The Interview

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

9781510719217_2caa3The author of the most under-the-radar title on the Man Booker Prize shortlist  His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae (Skyhorse; OverDrive Sample), Graeme Macrae Burnet is interviewed by The Wall Street Journal today [subscription may be required].

The brief exchange focuses on the author’s writing process.

In a response to a question about the novel’s structure, including the use of fictional primary documents, Burnet talks about the personal differences in recollection and says he “wanted to present the reader with different viewpoints of the same incident, so they can … make up their own mind about what happened.”

He says he gathered some of his insider details from working his way through primary source “documents [that] still have wax seals on them. These are original, handwritten documents of post-mortem reports on victims or psychiatric evaluations of prisoners about to stand trial.”

As to the eloquence of his murderer he says “it goes against one’s expectations of how somebody who has committed a violent act will behave.”

Very interested in the interior workings of a character, Burnet concludes the interview by saying his favorite crime writer is Georges Simenon, author of the Inspector Jules Maigret series because he “is a brilliant writer on the psychology of his characters, and he’s brilliant at setting a scene in very simple language. You’re completely transported to whatever place he’s writing about.”

Burnet talks more about his research in a video created by his Scottish publisher:

Bookers on Screen

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

9781510719217_2caa3Another of the 2016 Man Booker Prize shortlist titles had made the first step towards adaptation.

Deadline Hollywood reports that Graeme Macrae Burnet’s historical crime thriller His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae (Skyhorse; OverDrive Sample), has been optioned for a TV series.

The Scottish production company Synchronicity Films, known in the UK as the force behind Not Another Happy Ending, has bought the rights.

Originally published by a tiny 2-person house Saraband, the novel earned praise from The Guardian, which said “The book’s pretense at veracity, as well as being a literary jeux d’esprit, brings an extraordinary historical period into focus.”

Skyhorse picked it up for US publication after its Booker nod.

Another of this year’s shortlist titles, Ottessa Moshfegh’s literary thriller Eileen, as we noted earlier, is being adapted by screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson, “Hollywood’s Go-To Scribe for Thrillers” for producer Scott Rudin, known for his many successful literary adaptations.

If the projects make it to screens, they will follow in the footsteps of adaptations of previous Booker titles. Hilary Mantel’s two winners Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies were made into a BBC/PBS Masterpiece series. Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally became the now iconic 1993 film Schindler’s List. Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi were also successfully adapted.

NBA Longlists, 2016

Monday, September 19th, 2016

News of the World  blood-in-the-water  Pax
Best Books season begins officially with the announcement of the National Book Awards longlists.

In fiction, one of the ten titles is the number one LibraryReads pick for October, News of the World, Paulette Jiles (HC/William Morrow). It is also an Indie Next selection for October. Below is the LibraryReads annotation.

“Readers fortunate enough to meet Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an old ex-soldier who makes a living reading the news to townspeople in 1870s Texas, and Joanna, the Indian captive he is charged with returning to her relatives, will not soon forget them. Everything, from the vividly realized Texas frontier setting to the characters is beautifully crafted, right up to the moving conclusion. Both the Captain and Joanna have very distinctive voices. Wonderful storytelling.” — Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY

Missing from the list is Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton (PRH/Viking; OverDrive Sample; 1/13/16), a Booker longlist title, that did not make the cut to the shortlist (the two titles by U.S. writers on that shortlist were published here in 2015, so are not eligible for the NBA).

The nonfiction list is dominated by titles on racism in America, including a book which has received media attention, Heather Ann Thompson’s Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy (Pantheon Books/Penguin Random House; OverDrive Sample; 8/23/16).

Middle grade novels were winners in the Young Peoples Lit category in 2015 and 2013. They make a good showing on the 2016 longlist, taking four of the ten slots. Included is Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray; HC Audio; OverDrive Sample; 2/2/16). A bestseller, it may be the only one of all the nominees to have been optioned for a film. CORRECTION: At least one other adaptation is in the works, but as a limited TV series. Deadline reports that Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, on the fiction longlist, is “about to hit the TV marketplace.”

In poetry, mainstays Rita Dove and Donald Hall received nominations. So did a debut poet, Solmaz Sharif for Look: Poems, Solmaz Sharif (Macmillan/Graywolf; OverDrive Sample; 7/5/16). Sharif and Hall share a notable distinction, both are among the rare poets who have books selected as Indie Next picks. Sharif made the July list and Hall’s collection was the #1 December 2015 pick:

“This is a gift of honesty, intimacy, and the pure genius that is Donald Hall, as he hand-picks what he considers to be the best of his poetry from more than 70 years of published works. From this former U.S. Poet Laureate comes one essential volume of his works, where ‘Ox-Cart Man’ sits alongside ‘Kicking the Leaves’ and ‘Without.’ As he is no longer writing poetry, this ‘concise gathering of my life’s work’ is the perfect introduction to Hall’s literary contributions, as well as closure for his many ardent followers.”–Katharine Nevins, of MainStreet BookEnds of Warner, Warner

The finalists will be announced on Oct. 13, the winners on Nov. 16.

Man Booker Shortlist, 2016

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

The six books that are still in the competition for the Man Booker Prize were announced today, winnowed down from the longlist of 13 titles announced in July.

Two of the titles are by authors from the U.S.  (in 2014, the rules were changed to make U.S. authors eligible). Three others did not make the cut, including  Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton (PRH/Viking).

the-sellout  eileen

Paul Beatty, U.S., The Sellout (Macmillan/FSG, 3/3/15; OverDrive Sample)
On several U.S. best books lists for the year, including the NYT Book Review‘s Top Ten, it was heavily reviewed here.

Ottessa Moshfegh, U.S., Eileen (PRH/Penguin; OverDrive Sample;  8/18/15)
Featured on the cover of the  NYT Book Review,  it was also reviewed in the LA TimesThe Washington Post, and NPR, appeared on several 2015 “best”  lists and is being adapted as a movie.

The other four titles are by authors from Canada and the U.K. Only one of the titles has been published in the U.S. The rest are set for release in time for the announcement of the winner on Oct. 25.

9780393609882_10fde  9781555977535_ff119   9781510719217_43f40  9781620406694_35d27

Madeleine Thien, Canada, Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Norton; 10/11/16)
Reviewed by Publishers Weeklythe Guardian and by The Globe and Mail.

David Szalay, Canada-U.K.,  All That Man Is (Macmillan/Graywolf; OverDrive Sample; 10/4/16)
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly, the Guardian and the Telegraph.

Graeme Macrae Burnet, U.K., His Bloody Project, (Skyhorse, 10/4/16)
Published by the “tiny” press Saraband in Scotland, this title’s appearance on the list has drawn headlines in the U.K.. Up until the longlist announcement, the book had received little attention. In its review, the Guardian, said “this Man Booker-longlisted historical thriller deftly masquerades as a slice of true crime.”

Deborah Levy, U.K.,  Hot Milk (Macmillan/Bloomsbury USA; OverDrive Sample; 7/12/16)
Reviewed in the daily NYT, the Washington Post and the NYT Book Review

Taking Odds

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

9780307593313_66750 9780679743460_9b3f7Betting is underway on who will win the Nobel Prize in Literature with Japan’s Haruki Murakami topping the list.

He may be the Susan Lucci of authors, having led the betting for the last three years, only to see Svetlana Alexievich, a Belarussian journalist and oral historian take the prize last year, French novelist Patrick Modiano win in 2014 and Canadian Alice Munro in 2013.

He is not alone. Americans Philip Roth and Joyce Carol Oates and Irish writer John Banville annually get bandied about as the bookies make odds and this year is no different. Roth is the third favorite to win with Oates right behind him. Banville’s odds have, oddly enough, fallen out of the top 10. Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, another frequent pick for several years, is still in the top five.

There is a new name in the top three, Adunis, the pen name for a Syrian poet and essayist, has risen through the ranks and is now holding the #2 spot on the oddsmakers list.

Predictably unpredictable, the Nobel Prize in Literature has baffled odds makers for years and is just as likely to go to a  dark horse this year.

The exact announcement date has yet to be set but is most often awarded in early to mid October.

Man Booker Drop-In

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

9780393609882_10fdeAnother of the titles on the Man Book Awards longlist will be released in the U.S. this fall. W.W.Norton is publishing  Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien, making it the second award contender picked up by a US publisher since the list was announced in July (after His Bloody Project).

Norton clearly has faith in the novel, pubbing it on Oct. 11, nearly a month after the Booker shortlist announcement and just two weeks before the winner is announced on Oct. 25.

Set during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the novel is a family saga of music, loss, and politics that travels in time to the Tiananmen Square protest and on to the present day.

Macleans calls it “a serious accomplishment.” The Guardian says it is “a moving and extraordinary evocation of the 20th-century tragedy of China, and deserves to cement Thien’s reputation as an important and compelling writer.” The Globe and Mail writes that the book is a “gorgeous intergenerational saga, stretching as far back at the 1940s and traversing China from Beijing in the north to rural Guangxi in the south … [cementing] Madeleine Thien as one of Canada’s most talented novelists.”

Critics compare Thien to Amy Tan, Dai Sijie, and Rohinton Mistry.

Of the 13 title longlist, only one title is not currently scheduled for publication in the U.S., Wyl Menuir’s The Many.

Booker Longlist Title Gets US Publishing Date

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

In addition to famous names and international publishing houses, the Booker Prize also shines a light on small presses.

9781510719217_43f40Last year Marlon James and the U.K. indie press Oneworld took top honors for A Brief History of Seven Killings (published here by Riverhead, an imprint of the much larger Penguin Random House). This year’s longlist includes a title by an even smaller press, His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae, Graeme MaCrae Burnet (OverDrive Sample), published by the tiny 2-person house, Saraband.

At the time of the longlist announcement in July, the novel was not scheduled for a US release, but it is now set to be published here, also by an indie press, but one that is much larger, Skyhorse. The ship date is Sept. 13 [Correction: Ship Date is Sept. 27] , which will work well if the title makes it to the shortlist, which will be announced that very day.

Back in Scotland, the staff at Saraband fielded an endless round of inquiries after the longlist was announced. Publisher Sara Hunt told The Guardian, “It’s been crazy but fantastic … it’s hard to take in when most of the time we’re fighting to tell people about how good our books are, then suddenly everyone who hasn’t been in touch is wanting to speak to you at the same time – it’s that tricky day at work that you dream of having.”

The novel, a historical crime thriller, got little attention prior to the Booker spotlight, which The Guardian says is an oversight,

“a psychological thriller masquerading as a slice of true crime; a collection of ‘found’ documents …The book’s pretense at veracity, as well as being a literary jeux d’esprit, brings an extraordinary historical period into focus, while the multiple unreliable perspectives are designed to keep the audience wondering …  This is a fiendishly readable tale that richly deserves the wider attention the Booker has brought it.”


Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

9780316229296_62f5aThe 2016 Hugo Awards winners were announced on Saturday at the World Science Fiction Convention. N.K. Jemisin won Best Novel for The Fifth Season (Hachette/Orbit; OverDrive Sample).

The first book in the Broken Earth trilogy grabbed reviewers’ attention for its scope and scale. In the NYT Sunday Book Review, multiple award-winning author Naomi Novik wrote it is a novel of “intricate and extraordinary world–building.” The NPR reviewer  also lauded the author’s world-building as being full of “sumptuous detail and dimensionality.” Wired picked it as their book club title and Smart Bitches Trashy Books gave it an A grade, writing:

The Fifth Season blew my entire weekend. I had plans. I was supposed to, at least at some point, get out of bed and take a shower. Instead I stayed in my blanket fort and devoured this book. The most I managed to accomplish was feeding the cat and tweeting about how much I loved this novel.”

We wrote about Jemisin and critical reaction to the sequel, The Obelisk Gate (Hachette/Orbit; OverDrive Sample), earlier this week.

Jemisin headlines a sweeping win for female authors, with every fiction category going to a woman.

9780765385253_40f87Nnedi Okorafor won Best Novella for Binti (Macmillan/Tor; Macmillan Audio; OverDrive Sample). writes “Okorafor’s stories are where the ancient cultures of Africa meet the future, where what we have been and what makes us human meets what we can be and what we may be in the future.” NPR’s All Things Considered recently aired an interview with the author.

Uncanny2Hao Jingfang won Best Novelette for “Folding Beijing,” translated by Ken Liu. says “it’s not just that this is a smart story doing crunchy, smart things in a clever fashion—that’s just one layer of the thing. It’s also an emotionally resonant and intimately personal piece, grounded thoroughly through the life experience of the protagonist.”

Naomi Kritzer won Best Short Story for “Cat Pictures Please.” io9 includes the story in a round up of “What Are The Best Short Stories of the Year So Far?” (for 2015) and links to a review in Apex magazine.

9781401265199_7147aNeil Gaiman takes home the Best Graphic Story prize for The Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition, (DC Comics/Vertigo). The Nerdist and provide reviews. Last year, NPR’s Terry Gross interviewed Gaiman about the book on Fresh Air.

MV5BMTc2MTQ3MDA1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODA3OTI4NjE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_It was also a great night for Andy Weir. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (which is not a Hugo Award but is given at the same time) and the film The Martian (adapted from Weir’s debut novel) won Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.

An episode of Jessica Jones won Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.

Once again, the “Puppy” effect could be seen. However, it seems the voting members of the Hugo are learning to both live with and ignore the alt-right wing attack on the award (see our overview of the ongoing controversy).

As The Verge put it, “The immediate takeaway from tonight is that once again, slated works [the Puppy nominees] added to the ballot through a coordinated campaign have trouble swaying voters, although they were not unanimously dismissed, but in these instances, the awards largely went  to authors and works that really didn’t need help from slated works in the first place, such as Andy Weir or Neil Gaiman. In all other instances, voters opted to give the awards to extremely deserving works.”

Man Booker Longlist Title to
Big Screen

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Screen-Shot-2015-08-26-at-11.01.59-AM  9780399184260_5f8e2  9780735212169_GirlontheTrain_MTI_MM.indd

On the heels of the announcement that Ottessa Moshfegh’s literary thriller Eileen (PRH/Penguin) is a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, comes the news that screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson has been hired to adapt the novel for producer Scott Rudin.

The Hollywood Reporter writes that Wilson has “become a go-to writer for adapting book-to-screen thrillers with provocative female heroines who are not always likable” ( the WSJ profiled her last year under the headline “Hollywood’s Go-To Scribe for Thrillers“). Having written the screenplay for The Girl on the Train, she was hired last year to adapt Maestra by L.S. Hilton (PRH/Putnam; BOT), another title that was sometimes compared to The Girl on the Train (Note: the cover for the latter, above, is the newly-released art for the tie-in).

Maestra is still in development. No stars or director have yet been named.