Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

James Beard 2016 Award Winners

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

9780544373280_b69fcZahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook (HMH/Rux Martin), has won the 2016 James Beard Book of the Year award.

Chef Solomonov is no stranger to the Beard honors. In 2011 he won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. Now his debut cookbook, which highlights the pleasures of Israeli food and profiles his restaurant and life journey, gets similar accolades.

The James Beard Awards, billed as the Oscars of the food world, are given for 14 book categories (as well as for chefs, journalists, TV shows and more). Zahav also took home the International book award.

9781607745532_35ad0Deborah Madison won the Cookbook Hall of Fame category. Her most recent title is The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (RH/Ten Speed).

The very timely Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning) by Marion Nestle (Oxford UP) won for Writing and Literature while The Beetlebung Farm Cookbook by Chris Fischer with Catherine Young (Hachette/Little, Brown) took the prize for American Cooking. V Is for Vegetables: Inspired Recipes & Techniques for Home Cooks — from Artichokes to Zucchini by  Michael Anthony with Dorothy Kalins (Hachette/Little, Brown) won for Vegetable Focused and Vegetarian.

Best seller 9780393081084_5fb39The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, J. Kenji López-Alt (Norton) topped the General Cooking category. It won the IACP Cookbook of the Year award earlier this month (see our coverage here).

Other than The Food Lab there are no overlapping winners between the two highly regarded food awards.

The full list of James Beard winners is available online.

Hugo Awards Under Attack

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

The finalists for the Hugo Awards, which along with the Nebula Awards are the Oscars of Science Fiction and Fantasy, have been announced. Among picks, controversy continues as the Rabid Puppies group seeks to stuff the ballot box once again. The result, claims George R.R. Martin on his blog is, “to say the least, a mixed bag. A lot of good books and stories, writers and artists… cheek by jowl with some stuff that is considerably less worthy.”

9780316246682_2dffb9780316229296_62f5a The Best Novel category seems to have escaped the takeover. The finalists are: Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Hachette/Orbit), The Cinder Spires: the Aeronaut’s Windlass, Jim Butcher (Penguin/Roc), The Fifth Season, N. K. Jemisin (Hachette/Orbit), number one LibraryReads pick for May last year,  Uprooted, Naomi Novik (PRH/RH/Del Rey), and  Seveneves, Neal Stephenson (HC/William Morrow), also a May 2015 LibraryReads pick.

9781401248963_423a7Other well-known and highly regarded names receiving nods include Lois McMaster Bujold (for Best Novella), Neil Gaiman (for Best Graphic Story), Stephen King (for Best Novelette), and Brandon Sanderson (for Best Novella). Star Wars and The Martian both got nods for for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form).

However, he full list of nominees reveals that the divisive gamesmanship continues. New Republic writes “The Hugo Awards are still a mess” and The Guardian reports, “the Puppies and their supporters have redoubled their efforts to ‘game”’the awards … out of 80 recommendations posted by [Rabid Puppies] 62 have received sufficient votes to make the ballot.”

Author John Scalzi, one of the newly announced Los Angeles Times Critics at Large and three-time Hugo winner is less concerned, writing for the paper he says that this year’s ballot stuffing was largely blunted in the big categories by more votes from the anti-Puppies side and that the Puppies can take little credit for successfully lobbying for titles already widely considered shoo-ins. The Puppies he says, are “running in front of an existing parade and claiming to lead it.”

Eisner Award Nominees Announced

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

The Oscars of the comics world, the Eisner Awards, honoring outstanding comics creator, Will Eisner, announced its nominees this week. Topping the lists are Bandette, March: Book Two, Hip Hop Family Tree, Book 3: 1983–1984, and The Eternaut

Each received three nominations across the many categories the award recognizes, more than any of the other nominated titles.

41Npu9e+qKL9781616556686_1989dBandette is an ongoing online comic featuring a teen burglar the publisher says “treads a thin line between Tintin and Nancy Drew.” The webcomic earned nominations for Best Continuing Series, Best Digital/Webcomic, and Best Painter (for Coover). It has also been released in two paper editions thus far, Bandette Volume 1: Presto! and Bandette Volume 2: Stealers Keepers! both by Paul Tobin with art by Coleen Coover (Dark Horse, 2013 and 2015).

march_book_two_72dpi_lgMarch: Book Two,by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell (Top Shelf, 2015) counts among its nomination nods both Best Reality-Based Work and Best Publication for Teens. As we have noted, the award-winning comic memoir series has become a must-buy in libraries. March: Book Three publishes this August. The Washington Post offers a first look at the cover.

9781606998489_4108dHip Hop Family Tree, Book 3: 1983–1984, by Ed Piskor (Norton/Fantagraphics, 2015) is up for Best Reality-Based Work and creator  Piskor is up for Best Writer/Artist and Best Cover Artist. Piskor won the 2015 Eisner for the best nonfiction graphic work for Hip Hop Family Tree Book 2: 1981-1983. Book 3 covers the rise of Run DMC and more. Hip Hop Family Tree Book 4: 1984-1985 comes out this August.

9781606998502_81c82The Eternaut by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano Lòpez (Norton/Fantagraphics, 2015) is nominated for Best Archival Collection–Comic Strips, Best U.S. Edition of International Material, and Best Publication Design. The Argentinian science fiction graphic novel originally ran as a weekly, starting in 1957. In its starred review, PW says it is:

“one of the great alien-invasion stories of the golden age of SF … [with a] taut against-all-odds plot … As with much ’50s science fiction, the political subtext—made more poignant by the knowledge that Oesterheld agitated against the Argentinean government and was “disappeared” in 1977—is so smoothly embedded … that it slides right past most readers while still resonating once the true masterminds are revealed.”

Beyond these four, 2016 also turns out to be a good year for women. Comic-Con points out that “49 women have received a record 61 nominations (compared to 44 last year) and are represented in 27 of the 30 categories.” The judging panel included librarian Jason M. Poole of Webster Public Library, Webster, NY.

The full list of nominees as well as rich commentary from Comic-Con is available online.

Pulitzer Surprise

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

9780802123459_c9befAlthough it’s been a contender for major literary awards, winning the ALA’s Andrew Carnegie Medal and was named a best book by most sources, The Sympathizer (Grove Press, April 2015), Viet Thanh Nguyen’s 2016 Pulitzer Prise-winning debut may not be that well-known to general readers (the Guardian‘s headline says it went “from overlooked to Pulitzer winner“). If you’re struggling to describe it to readers, the following reactions to the award announcement may help.

Calling the central character “a wickedly smart double-agent,” the Los Angeles Times, says the novel is “Part thriller, part political satire … sharp-edged fiction.”

The NYT echoes that almost exactly, calling it “Part satire, part espionage thriller and part historical novel,” while The Washington Post describes it as a “cerebral thriller.”

Bustle, which also offers a handy 9 Books To Read If You Loved The Sympathizer list, summaries the start of the novel in atmospheric prose that invites readers to dive in:

“The novel begins in Saigon, a city in complete chaos. Helicopter blades pound as quickly as the hearts of fearful villagers, and communist tanks are just about to roll in. Amidst the chaos, the General of the South Vietnamese army lists off the lucky few individuals who will make it aboard the last flights out of the country. His trusted Captain, the narrator of the novel, is one of the few.”

LitHub lures readers with:

“What begins casually turns murderous and then absurd as the unnamed narrator tries unsuccessfully to separate from his past. He winds up having to participate in assassinations to cover his tracks. He even takes a turn in Hollywood working on a film that sounds an awful lot like Apocalypse Now.”

9780674660342_023e9LitHub goes on to pair the novel with a recent piece of criticism by Nguyen, Nothing Ever Dies (Harvard UP, March 2016) to make the case for understanding the novel’s importance, saying:

“Put together, the two books perform an optic tilt about Vietnam and what America did there as profound as Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and Toni Morrison’s Beloved were to the legacy of racism and slavery.”

In a good bit of timing, the novel was just release in trade paperback. On news of the award both editions zoomed up Amazon’s rankings: Trade pbk: Sales rank: 18 (was 10,077); Hardcover: Sales rank: 88 (was 23,191).

That’s the highest ranking the novel has reached to date by far, the previous high was #5,938. The Sympathizer was on the ABA IndieBound best seller list for six weeks (at a high of #24) and the L.A. Times best seller list for 2 weeks, but did not crack any other list.

Librarians identified its pleasures, however. It was selected as a 2016 Notable Books title by the RUSA Notable Books Council and then went on to win the Andrew Carnegie Medal.

UPDATE: More Surpises

The General Nonfiction medal did not go to the expected book, Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates (PRH/Spiegel & Grau), but to Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, by Joby Warrick (PRH/(Doubleday). Coates was named as a finalist.

The Award winner in Criticism caused some consternation, because it did not go to a newspaper writer but to Emily Nussbaum who writes about television for a magazine, the New Yorker. A change in the rules opened both that category and Feature Writing to magazines this year, reflecting the sad fact that newspapers have cut their arts coverage over the years. Thus, in a first, the New Yorker won its first Pulitzers and in two categories.

The Drama award went to a play with book connections, Hamilton. Although, given the acclaim it has arleady received, it was not a surprise, it is the first musical to win in many years.

 

THE SYMPATHIZER Wins Pulitzer

Monday, April 18th, 2016

The 2016 Pulitzer Prize Winners in the book categories are:

Fiction —  The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press, April 2015)

History — Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America, T.J. Stiles (PRH/Knopf)

Biography or Autobiography — Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, William Finnegan, (Penguin Press)

Poetry — Ozone Journal, Peter Balakian, (U. Of Chicago Press)

General Nonfiction —  Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS (PRH/Doubleday; BOT)

In addition, Hamilton wins the Drama Award.

Once again, the criticism award does not go to book coverage, but to Emily Nussbaum, for television reviewing, in the New Yorker. The last time the award went to a book reviewer was in 2001, to Gail Caldwell who was then chief book critic for The Boston Globe.

Pulitzer Prize Announcements, Today at 3 p.m., E.T.

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Marking its one hundredth anniversary, the Pulitzer Prize Awards will be announced today at 3 p.m. ET.

The very first award for a fiction title went to the now largely forgotten His Family, by Ernest Poole (Macmillan), but that was followed by many titles that went on to become classics (winners in the category originally designated as Novels 1918 through 1947, are listed here; since 1948, it was designated as Fiction; winners are listed here).

In recent years, the Fiction Award has created best sellers (e.g.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout), or added longevity to titles that were already best sellers (last year’s winner, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr just passed it’s 100th week on the NYT Hardcover Fiction list).

In addition to Fiction, the other Pulitzer Prize book categories are:

History (1917-present)

Biography or Autobiography (1917-present)

Poetry (1922-present)

General Nonfiction (1962-present)

There is also an award for Criticism (1970-present), a wide-ranging category which includes film and book reviewing (the NYT‘s Michiko Kakutani won in 1998), and even reviewing of automobiles.

A live stream of the awards announcements is below:

Honoring International Authors and Their Translators

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

The shortlist of six finalists for the 2016 Booker International Prize has been announced. A younger sibling to the more well-known Booker Prize for Fiction (that longlist will be announced in July), it has been given every two years since 2005 to authors who are not citizens of the Commonwealth, for an entire body of work in any language (past winners have included Canadian Alice Munro and US citizens Philip Roth and Lydia Davis).

Now that the main Booker Award is open to all writers in English, regardless of citizenship, the International Award has been changed to one for individual novels in English translation, recognizing not only the authors, but also the translators, a change that the Guardian notes, “should help raise the profile of translated books.”

The judges call this shortlist “exhilarating,” praising its diversity.

9781609452865_92e01The finalist best-known in the US is Elena Ferrante for The Story of the Lost Child: Neapolitan Novels, Book Four, translated by Ann Goldstein (PRH/Europa Editions, Sept. 1, 2015; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample). All the titles in the author’s series have been best sellers here, with even the translator achieving celebrity status.

9780553448184_795d0Also having received attention here is The Vegetarian, by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith (PRH/Hogarth; Feb. 2, 2016; OverDrive Sample)

A profile of the author in the daily NYT Books section calls the novel, which was published ten years ago in South Korea,  a “mesmerizing mix of sex and violence.” The review in the NYT “Sunday Book Review” comes with the warning that nothing can “prepare a reader for the traumas of this Korean author’s translated debut in the Anglophone world.”

9780307700292_5f8d2The winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature is also among the finalists, Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk for A Strangeness in My Mind, translated by Ekin Oklap (PRH/Knopf, Oct. 20, 2015; BOT; OverDrive Sample)

Daily NYT reviewer Dwight Garner calls this a minor work, lacking the “the visceral and cerebral impact of Mr. Pamuk’s best novels.”

The other titles on the list are:
9780374289867_84b40A Whole Life, Robert Seethaler, translated by Charlotte Collins (Macmillan/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sept. 13, 2016) — “Like John Williams’ Stoner or Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, A Whole Life is a tender book about finding dignity and beauty in solitude. It looks at the moments, big and small, that make us what we are.” — from the description on the Booker site

9780802124692_3795aThe Four BooksYan Lianke, translated by Carlos Rojas (Perseus/PGW/Legato/Grove Press, March 8, 2016; OverDrive Sample)– ” No other writer in today’s China has so consistently explored, dissected and mocked the past six and a half decades of Chinese communist rule.” — the Guardian

9780914671312_c2bb4A General Theory of Oblivion, Jose Eduardo Agualusa, translated by Daniel Hahn (PRH/Archipelago, Dec. 15, 2015; OverDrive Sample) — “a wild patchwork of a novel that tells the story of Angola through Ludo, a woman who bricks herself into her apartment on the eve of Angolan independence. For the next 30 years she lives off vegetables and pigeons, and burns her furniture to stay warm. ” — from the description on the Booker site..

The winner of the Prize will be announced on May 16th.

Melanie Townsend Diggs Wins Lemony Snicket Prize

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Snicket-Lanie Headshots-2 (3)In recognition of her efforts to aid the citizens of Baltimore during the 2015 protests that followed the death of  Freddie Gray while in police custody, Melanie Townsend Diggs, Pennsylvania Avenue Branch manager of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library is the recipient of the  2016 Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity, announced yesterday in a press release.

Ms. Diggs will receive $10,000, a certificate, and an “object selected from the personal collection of author Daniel Handler,” aka Lemony Snicket.

In the ALA press release Diggs says :

“in some ways it was a typical day, with people coming and going. But you also would have seen customers and community leaders coming in and thanking us for being open. A woman bringing us flowers, pastries. The media coming in to charge up their batteries, use the restrooms. You would have seen a young man coming in to fill out a job application online, and then coming back the next day to say that he had an interview scheduled for May 5. All of these things happened. If we had not opened our doors, we would have missed all those things.”

Handler adds, “During troubled times, we need open minds. Open minds need open books. Open books require an open library, and the work of Melanie Townsend Diggs provided such a necessary and hopeful beacon.”

Last year’s prize winner, Scott Bonner, was honored for keeping the library in Ferguson, Missouri open during protests there, and the 2014 winner Laurence Copel, was honored for her work in the Lower Ninth Ward Street Library of New Orleans.

Baileys Shortlist Announced

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

Six authors made the leap from the longlist to the shortlist for Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the UK’s most prestigious award for women of all nationalities writing in English:

9780804188241_49c49 Ruby, Cynthia Bond (RH/Hogarth; RH Audio; OverDrive Sample).

Bond’s debut novel was an Oprah pick last Feb. and made the NYT‘s bestseller list. It was also very much admired abroad with The Guardian offering: “Many will compare Ruby to the work of Toni Morrison or Zora Neale Hurston … It may be most apt to compare Bond to Gabriel García Márquez [as] Ruby is woven with magical realism.”

9780393352801_871b8The Green Road, Anne Enright (W. W. Norton; Thorndike; OverDrive Sample).

A Man Booker Prize winner, Enright was also on the Booker’s 2015 longlist for this title. When the hardback edition came out last May, People said, “With language so vibrant it practically has a pulse, Enright makes an exquisitely drawn case for the possibility of growth, love and transformation at any age.” It was one of  New York magazine’s 8 Books You Need to Read This May and an Indie Next pick.

9780804189064_9ddaa The Glorious Heresies, Lisa McInerney (PRH/Tim Duggan Books; Random House Audio).

Also a debut, this title is scheduled to hit shelves in the US on Aug. 9. It is set in contemporary, post-crash Ireland. On that side of the ocean McInerney has already gained considerable praise with The Irish Times writing that she is “arguably the most talented writer at work in Ireland today.” 

9781594206856_3b03aThe Portable Veblen, Elizabeth Mckenzie (Penguin Press; OverDrive Sample).

This was an Indie Next pick for Feb. 2016.  Bookseller Rico Lange, of Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA said: “This story of an engaged couple trying to navigate crazy family dynamics, betrayal, and professional dilemmas on their way to getting married is one of the funniest, most unique novels I’ve ever read.” Kirkus, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly all gave it starred reviews.

The Improbability of Love9781101874141_9e7a9 by Hannah Rothschild (RH/Knopf; OverDrive Sample) is the final of the three debuts on the list, written by the incoming chair of London’s National Art Galley. Rothschild (yes, one of THOSE Rothschilds) is the first woman to hold that position. Naturally, her first novel is inspired by one of her favorite artists, Jean-Antoine Watteau. It was both a LibraryReads and a Indie Next pick.

9780804172707_0fec7 A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara (RH/Doubleday; OverDrive Sample).

It is doubtful much more needs to be said about Yanagihara’s 2015 sensation. It was a National Book Award finalist and short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. As we wrote when it published, it enjoyed lavish attention. The LA Times’ review began, “I’ve read a lot of emotionally taxing books in my time, but A Little Life … is the only one I’ve read as an adult that’s left me sobbing.” Vogue said the book announces “the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.” Kirkus, in a starred review, claims “The phrase ‘tour de force’ could have been invented for this audacious novel.”

The award winner will be announced on June 8th.

DELICIOUS FOODS Wins PEN/Faulkner

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

9780316284943_96ec5James Hannaham has won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his novel Delicious Foods (Hachette/Little, Brown, March 2015). It is his second novel, after God Says No.

An associate professor of writing at the Pratt Institute in New York, Hannaham told The Washington Post that winning one of the most literary of awards is a surprise for a book he terms as “visceral … It’s also nasty, and it’s not at all genteel.”

Indeed not, as the paper summarizes, it tells the story “of an African American boy who, despite losing his hands, tries to rescue his mother from a Southern produce farm where she’s kept in virtual slavery. It’s a harrowing depiction of drug addiction and the plight of migrant workers. Among the novel’s most radical qualities is that parts of it are narrated by the voice of crack cocaine itself.”

As we reported earlier, the short list included literary darling The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press, April 2015), Luis Alberto Urrea’s short story collection The Water Museum (Hachette/Little, Brown, April 2015), and two under the radar titles, Elizabeth Tallent’s short story collection, Mendocino Fire (Harper, Sept. 2015) and Julie Iromuanya’s debut novel, Mr. and Mrs. Doctor (Coffee House Press, May 2015).

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

9780393081084_5fb39The International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) has announced their awards for 2016 and the big winner is The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, J. Kenji López-Alt (Norton), which took home honors as both Cookbook of the Year and winner in the American category.

The book is already a hitl. It is a NYT Best Seller, entering the list at #4 in October and currently at #10 after 10 weeks.

9780316329514_088c59781101874868_41e4fFamiliar names Madhur Jaffrey and Andrew Weil also took home prizes. Jaffrey for Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking (PRH/Knopf), which won the Single Subject category and Weil for Fast Food, Good Food: More Than 150 Quick and Easy Ways to Put Healthy, Delicious Food on the Table (Hachette/Little, Brown), which won the Health & Special Diet category.

9780553447293_3cb3b9780714870472_106e5Tacos were big winners with Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman winning the Chefs and Restaurants category for Tacos: Recipes and Provocations (PRH/Clarkson Potter) and Deborah Holtz and Juan Carlos Mena winning the Reference & Technical category for Tacopedia (Phaidon).

The winners in all the book categories are listed with ordering information and alternate formats, on our downloadable spreadsheet, IACP 2016 Cookbook Awards.

Secret Author

Monday, March 14th, 2016

9781609452865_92e01The interest in the hidden identity of Elena Ferrante, author of the Neapolitan novels that have swept through the best seller lists, hit a boil this weekend, sending her titles soaring again on Amazon.

The real author behind the Ferrante pseudonym has rigorously kept her (or his) true identity private. She grants email interviews only and those exchanges pass through her publisher.

That only fuels speculation, and the latest, reports The New York Times, comes from an Italian author and professor who has conducted an historical and literary study of the books. He sets his eyes on a fellow professor from Naples named Marcella Marmo. Both Ms. Marmo and Ferrante’s publishers flatly deny it.

“It’s nonsense,” said the publishers and “I’m not Elena Ferrante,” said Ms. Marmo. Those predictable responses have not quelled speculation.

Holds and circulation remain high across the series that includes My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of The Lost Child (all published by Europa Editions)

Just last week, it was announced that Ferrante is on the longlist for the Man Booker International Prize, adding even more interest to this long-running literary parlor game.

Women’s Fiction Prize Longlist

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

The longlist of 20 titles for the Baileys’ Womens Prize for Fiction was announced on Tuesday, International Women’s Day. The prize was created in 1996 by a group of U.K. reviewers, librarians and others in the book world, to address the issue of  book prizes being disproportionately awarded to men. Now funded by R & A Bailey & Co, makers of Bailey’s Irish Cream, it is open to any woman writing in English

dictionary_detailWe were pleased to see one of the debuts on the list was part of our First Flights/Penguin Debut Authors program. Jackie Copleton, the author of  A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding (PRH/Penguin Books, Dec., 2015), a novel about survivors coping with the effects of the bombing of Nagasaki,  chatted with librarians in the program late last year.

Many authors with more novels under their belts, are on the list, including Elizabeth Strout, My Name Is Lucy Barton (a number one LibraryReads pick) Geraldine Brooks, The Secret Chord, Anne Enright, The Green Road, Kate Atkinson, A God in Ruins, and Attica Locke, Pleasantville

Also on the list is a second novel that received a great deal of attention last year, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

Libraries own most of the titles (three have not been released in the U.S.). Attached is our spreadsheet of the titles, for use in creating displays, Baileys Longlist, 2016

PEN/Faulkner Finalists Announced

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

The PEN America Center offers so many awards that they can begin to blur, especially since many of the finalists have already appeared on end-of-the year best books lists, or have won other major national awards.

The PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction shortlist offers two correctives this year, bringing attention to a pair of titles that have slipped under most radars.

9780062410344_1107f9781566893978_87fbcDespite glowing praise in the NYT comparing her work to George Eliot, Elizabeth Tallent’s short story collection, Mendocino Fire (Harper, Sept. 2015), received scant additional attention. The same holds for Julie Iromuanya’s debut novel, Mr. and Mrs. Doctor (Coffee House Press, May 2015), which received little notice beyond a mention in the NYT Sunday Book Review’s debut title round-up. As previously announced, it is also a finalist for the PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction.

The other PEN/Faulkner finalists fared better in the PR stakes.

9780316334372_fcd61Luis Alberto Urrea’s short story collection The Water Museum (Hachette/Little, Brown. April 2015) was on both the Washington Post ‘s and NPR’s best of the year lists. Urrea is well-known for his many other works, including Into the Beautiful North, one of 34 titles on NEA’s Big Read list. Showing particular relevance to today’s political discussions, as the Cleveland Plain Dealer says, The Water Museum “mines the tragedy, the dark comedy and the ultimate futility of erecting walls between cultures.”

9780316284943_96ec59780802123459_c9befThe other two books on the short list are true literary darlings. James Hannaham’s Delicious Foods (Hachette/Little, Brown, March 2015) and The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press, April 2015).

Both won major awards, or were on award short lists, and were on many end-of-year “best” lists. Showing remarkable range, The Sympathizer, called a “cerebral thriller about Vietnam and its aftermath” by the Washington Post, is also a nominee for a 2016 Edgar for Best First Novel as well as on the shortlist for the PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. Earlier this year, it won ALA’s Carnegie Medal for Fiction.

The winners of the PEN/Faulkner Awards will be announced on April 5th.

Oscars By the Book

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Spotlight  Martian tie-in  The Revenant

Ironically, for a year in which most of the Oscar categories were dominated by literary adaptations, the Best Picture winner, Spotlight was one of the few not based on a novel. The film does, however, have a book connection. Based on the story of the Boston Globe‘s Pulitzer Prize winning investigation into charges of sexual abuse in the Catholic church, the articles were published in book form in 2003 and re-released as a tie-in, Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church: The findings of the investigation that inspired the major motion picture Spotlight, The Investigative Staff of the Boston Globe, (Hachette/Back Bay).

If the Oscars had a category for Book That Benefited Most from Film Adaptation, the winner this year would be Michael Punke’s The Revenant (Macmillian/Picador), which propelled the 2002 novel from obscurity to best seller lists. It also won in three official Oscar categories, Best Actor, Director and Cinematography.

The author, while able to attend the Oscars, is prohibited by his day job from appearing on the red carpet, the New York Times reports in a profile. As the United States ambassador to the World Trade Organization, he is not allowed to do any publicity for the movie, or even his own book.

Also benefiting from its film incarnation is Andy Weir’s The Martian (PRH/Broadway), which made its own unlikely journey from a series Weir offered for free on his web site to a best selling book, with the film adaptation bringing it to even wider readership. Despite its being nominated in six categories, the Academy passed over the movie, denying it a single win.

Both movies got special attention from Oscars host Chris Rock in the show’s opening parody.