Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

Dylan Celebrated

Sunday, December 11th, 2016

After weeks of seeming to snub his Nobel Prize, Bob Dylan won many over at Saturday night’s Nobel Banquet, without even attending. His letter of thanks, read by Azita Raji, the American ambassador to Sweden, was applauded by the NYT as “a warm, humble statement.” In it, he explains that his songs are,

“the vital center of almost everything I do … Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, ‘Are my songs literature?’ … So, I do thank the Swedish Academy, both for taking the time to consider that very question, and, ultimately, for providing such a wonderful answer.”

That answer was driven home by one of the Nobel Committee members who said at the event that Dylan is,

“a singer worthy of a place beside the Greek bards, beside Ovid, beside the Romantic visionaries, beside the kings and queens of the blues, beside the forgotten masters of brilliant standards. If people in the literary world groan one must remind them that the gods don’t write, they dance and they sing.”

Patti Smith, who, as The Rolling Stone reports, was invited to perform before the announcement of Dylan’s Nobel, chose to sing his 1962 protest song, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall.” She got tangled in the long and complicated lyrics, halting at one point to say “I’m sorry, I’m so nervous,” and received a round of applause. She recovered so well that she brought many in the audience to tears. 

And The Grammy Nominees Are …

Friday, December 9th, 2016

The Grammy Awards announced their finalists in the Best Spoken Word category this Tuesday. Spanning poetry, audiobooks, and storytelling, the category has a rich history of winners, including Jimmy Carter, Stephen Colbert, President Obama, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Maya Angelou.

This year’s nominees are:

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy Schumer (Simon & Schuster Audio). Also nominated for Best Comedy Album.

In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox, Carol Burnett (RH Audio/BOT)

M Train, Patti Smith (RH Audio/BOT)

Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk, John Doe with Tom Desavia and various artists (RH Audio/BOT). Review from the L.A. Times.

Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, Elvis Costello (RH Audio/BOT)

The Missing Nobel Laureate

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

francis-h-c-crick-nobel-prize-medal-1This is Nobel Week, featuring press conferences with the winners, the official Nobel Lectures, and the awarding of the prizes at a banquet on Saturday night.

Many of the events will be streamed live on the Nobel page, but not the Lecture in Literature. The Nobel site states, “As Literature Laureate Bob Dylan will not be present during Nobel Week, the Nobel Lecture in Literature will not be held.”

He has, however, sent a thank you speech to be read at the Nobel banquet on Saturday, which begins at 4:30 pm Stockholm time (10:30 am, Eastern). It will be streamed live on the site.

In addition, Patti Smith will perform Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” during the banquet. RollingStone reports that Smith is “also taking part in the Nobel Week Dialogue event the day before on December 9th, where she’ll discuss the ‘importance of role models.'” They further report that not even the Nobel organizers know who will read Dylan’s “speech of thanks” at the gala.

Smith tells the magazine that Nobel organizers asked her to sing in September, before Dylan was named the Literature Laureate, “I had planned to perform one of my own songs with the orchestra … But after Bob Dylan was announced as the winner and he accepted it, It seemed appropriate to set my own song aside and choose one of his. I chose ‘A Hard Rain’ because it is one of his most beautiful songs. It combines his Rimbaudian mastery of language with a deep understanding of the causes of suffering and ultimately human resilience.”

The New Grand Masters

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

9781783298143_ff7679781250088635_4325fThe Mystery Writers of America have announced Max Allan Collins and Ellen Hart as the 2017 Grand Masters, an award that recognizes “the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality.” It is the highest honor the association bestows.

In the press release, Collins said, “To be in the company of Agatha Christie, Rex Stout and Mickey Spillane is both thrilling and humbling. This is an honor second to none in the art of mystery and suspense fiction.”

Hart said. “A writer’s stock-in-trade is imagination. I’ve always felt mine was pretty good, but never in a million years did I ever think winning the MWA Grand Master award was a possibility. I’m stunned, grateful, and profoundly honored.”

Collins has written over 100 novels. Some of the best known are his award-winning Nathan Heller historical series which begins with True Detective (Macmillan/St. Martins, 1983, reprinted 2011, Amazon/Thomas & Mercer), the graphic novel Road to Perdition (DC/Vertigo, 1998, reprinted 2011), and the Quarry books (now a Cinemax series). His newest novel is Quarry in the Black (Hard Case Crime, 2016).

Hart writes the Jane Lawless and Sophie Greenway series. There are 23 Lawless novels, many of them either Lambda Literary Award winners or finalists. Hallowed Murder (Seal Press, 1989) is the first and Fever in the Dark (Macmillan/Minotaur, forthcoming Jan 2017) is the newest. There are 8 Greenway novels. The first came out in 1994, This Little Piggy Went to Murder (PRH/Fawcett), and the last hit shelves in 2005, No Reservations Required (PRH/Fawcett).

Slate Book Club Reads UNDERGROUND

Sunday, November 27th, 2016


Slate critics Jamelle Bouie, Laura Miller, and Katy Waldman return with the newest Audio Book Club. They “discuss two novels that reimagine our racist past and present,” The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (PRH/Doubleday; RH Audio; BOTOverDrive Sample) and Underground Airlines by Ben Winters (Hachette/Mulholland Books; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample).

The panel discuses each book on its own and then compares them in a wide ranging conversation that dips into the roots of hard-boiled genre fiction, the history of slavery, and segments of the history of the abolitionist movement.

Whitehead recently won the National Book Award for his novel, which is also on most of the year-end best of books of the year lists. PW picked Underground Airlines as one of the best Mystery/Thriller books of 2016.

The next discussion will be about the winner of the Nobel Prize, Bob Dylan, focusing on The Lyrics: 1961-2012 (S&S).

John Lewis On The MARCH

Friday, November 18th, 2016

9781603093958_0e365Winning the National Book Award has sent the March trilogy, by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf) zooming on Amazon, jumping from #1,321 to #17.

The individual volumes are all soaring up the sales ranks as well, each leapfrogging over a thousand other titles.

It has also resulted in a glowing NYT book review: “The three volumes of March … aren’t just a record of Lewis’s activism but one of its brilliant examples, designed to help new generations of readers visualize the possibilities of political engagement.”

The review continues, saying the comics are a:

“galvanizing account of [Lewis’s] coming-of-age in the movement, it’s a capsule lesson in courage of conscience, a story that inspires without moralizing or simplifying in hindsight … Emphasizing disruption, decentralization and cooperation over the mythic ascent of heroic leaders, this graphic novel’s presentation of civil rights is startlingly contemporary. Lewis may be one of the “great men” of the movement, but his memoir is humble and generous.”







Collectively the trilogy has received a number of groundbreaking honors:

March: Book One is a Coretta Scott King honor book, a Margaret A. Edwards honor book, an ALA Notable Children’s Book, and is the first graphic novel to win a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. It was also nominated for three Eisner awards.

March: Book Two won the Eisner Award for Best Reality-Based Work.

March: Book Three won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. This is the first time a graphic novel has been so honored (there have been graphic novel finalists. Raina Telgemeier’s Ghosts, Scholastic/GRAPHIX, was also a finalist this year).

For just a taste of the power of the comics, see our post on the Congressman’s recent appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

National Book Awards Live Stream

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Below is the live stream of Wednesday night’s National Book Awards Ceremony, hosted by Larry Wilmore, begins at 7:40 p.m., Eastern.

The winners as they were announced:

Literarian Award — Poets Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady, creators of Cave Canem

Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters — Robert A. Caro

Young People’s Literature, presented by Katherine Paterson — John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell (Artist), March: Book Three, Top Shelf Productions / IDW Publishing — an emotional Lewis said he remembered trying to get a library card as a child and being told that the library was for whites only. Going from that to winning this award is just “too much.”

Poetry, presented by Joy Harjo — Daniel Borzutzky, The Performance of Becoming Human, Brooklyn Arts Press — Borzutzky said he had been supported throughout his career by “people who publish books in their apartments.” Jewish and Chilean-American, he asked that everyone do their part to make sure this country continues to be safe and welcoming to immigrants.

Nonfiction, presented by Masha Gessen — Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
Nation Books / Perseus Books Group — Kendi noted that, in writing this book, he has spent years looking at the worst of America, but he never lost faith that the terror of racism would one day be dead, and even as the first black president is about to leave the White House, while a man enthusiastically supported by the Ku Klux Klan is about to enter, he still has that faith.

Fiction, presented by James English — Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad Doubleday / Penguin Random House — In an understatement, Whitehead said the last four months have been surreal (his book was an Oprah pick). In a year he went from wondering if anyone would read his book, to seeing it become a best seller, a reminder that we don’t know where we may be a year from now. “Right now, we’re happy in here; outside is the blasted hellhole wasteland of Trumpland.” He offered advice that makes him feel better, “Be kind to everybody, make art and fight the power.”

At the end, Larry Wilmore summed up the evening by saying, “Wow. The National Book Awards is WOKE.” Referring to the fact that the majority of the people who were on the stage were black, from the new Executive Director if the National Book Foundation Lisa Lucas, to the most of the winners, Wilmore joked this was “the National Book Awards, presented by BET, with a special appearance by Robert Caro.” He hastened to add that he really likes Bob Caro, something that was obvious in his reaction to Caro’s acceptance speech.

Dylan A No Show

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016


Bob Dylan raised eyebrows when he took his time in responding to the announcement that he had won the Nobel Prize in Literature. He finally broke his silence on the subject to say he was honored and would attend the ceremony on Dec. 10 “if at all possible.”

But it seems his schedule makes that impossible. The Swedish Academy announced that they received “a personal letter” from the musician informing them of his decision, citing “pre-existing commitments.”

According to the BBC, Dylan also said he felt “very honoured” and “so much” appreciated the award.

Regardless of the big evening, the BBC reports that Dylan is “required to give a Nobel lecture between now and next June.” UPDATE: Entertainment Weekly reports that he may give the lecture during a 2017 concert in Stockholm.

PW Picks the 150
Best Books of the Year

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

Best Books season starts off with 15-1Publishers Weekly‘s picks of the top titles of 2016.

The author featured on the cover is sure to top most best books lists this year, Colson Whitehead, for  The Underground Railroad (PRH/Doubleday; RH Audio; BOT; OverDrive Sample). PW calls it a “stunning novel … [that] depicts one of America’s darkest moments in a new light. ”

As in past years, the PW editors select a total of 100 adult titles and 50 childrens titles, with a Top 10 list and the remaining picks divided into 12 categories.

Underground Railroad  9780375423222_1e3b7

Whitehead’s novel is also one of the finalists for the National Book Awards, to be announced next week, Wed., Nov. 16. (this year, you can download ballots. Oscar style, for making your own predictions). Surprisingly, none of the other four fiction finalists are on PW’s  Top Ten, or picked in any of the other fiction categories.

In nonfiction, Heather Ann Thompson’s Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy (PRH/Pantheon; OverDrive Sample) is both an NBA shortlist title and one of PW’s top ten. All the titles on the NBA’s shortlist for Young People’s Literature are among PW’s picks in childrens. YA, or Graphic Novel picks, except for  Grace Lin’s When the Sea Turned to Silver (Hachette/ Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) . There is absolutely no crossover between the lists in poetry.

Again this year, we will compile  downloadable spreadsheets of all the Best Books selections, useful for end-of-the year buying, as more lists are released.

NOTHING Is Winning and Circing

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

9780393609882_59ec7Shortlisted for the Man Booker Award, Canadian Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Norton; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample) did not win, but is now sweeping Canada’s literary awards.

It won the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize yesterday, an award worth $100,000 dollars.

The announcement said the novel:

“entranced the jurors with its detailed, layered, complex drama of classical musicians and their loved ones trying to survive two monstrous insults to their humanity: Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in mid-twentieth century China and the Tiananmen Square massacre of protestors in Beijing in 1989. Do Not Say We Have Nothing addresses some of the timeless questions of literature: who do we love, and how do the love of art, of others and ourselves sustain us individually and collectively in the face of genocide? A beautiful homage to music and to the human spirit, Do Not Say We Have Nothing is both sad and uplifting in its dramatization of human loss and resilience in China and in Canada.”

It also won the highly prestigious Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. That jury panel deemed it:

“an elegant, nuanced and perfectly realized novel that, fugue-like, presents the lives of individuals, collectives, and generations caught in the complexities of history. Tracing the intertwined lives of two families, moving from Revolutionary China to Canada, this ambitious work explores the persistence of past and the power of art, raising meaningful questions for our times.”

The NYT calls it “a beautiful, sorrowful work. The book impresses in many senses: It stamps the memory with an afterimage; it successfully explores larger ideas about politics and art (the mind is never still while reading it); it has the satisfying, epic sweep of a 19th-century Russian novel, spanning three generations and lapping up against the shores of two continents.”

Many libraries we checked bought few copies and are now seeing holds ratios skyrocketing while others with more copies are seeing holds top 3:1.

Best Illustrated Children’s Books, 2016

Friday, November 4th, 2016

The New York Times has just released their annual selection of the year’s Best Illustrated Children’s Books online. The print version is included in the upcoming Sunday Book Review.

The influential list has been issued since 1952 and evaluates titles “purely on artistic merit.” As always, the jury includes a librarian. This year, that spot is filled by Cheryl Wolf who works at both the Neighborhood School and S.T.A.R. Academy in NYC.

The ten selections are listed below (and, for ordering purposes, on our downloadable spreadsheet, NYT Best Illus., 2016) :

The Cat From Hunger Mountain
, Ed Young (PRH/Philomel Books; OverDrive Sample)

The Dead Bird, Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Christian Robinson (HarperCollins)

Freedom in Congo Square
, Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (S&S/little bee books)

Little Red, Bethan Woollvin (Peachtree Publishers)

The Polar Bear, Jenni Desmond (Enchanted Lion Books

Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis, Jabari Asim, illustrated by E. B. Lewis (PRH/Nancy Paulsen Books)

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes, Duncan Tonatiuh (Abrams; OverDrive Sample)

The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank’s Window, Jeff Gottesfeld, illustrated by Peter McCarty (PRH/Knopf Books for Young Readers; OverDrive Sample)

A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785, Matthew Olshan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Macmillan /Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR; OverDrive Sample)

The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem “Pangur Bán,” Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Sydney Smith (Perseus/PGW/Legato/Groundwood Books)


Friday, November 4th, 2016

selloutThe first US author ever to win the Man Booker Prize, Paul Beatty, is seeing a strong uptick in sales as a result. We have already reported that The Sellout (Macmillan/FSG; OverDrive Sample) jumped on Amazon‘s sales rankings, and now it hits the USA Today Best-Selling Books list at #12, its first time on the list.

This is the first time any of Beatty’s books have hit the USA Today list. Before the Man Booker, The Sellout appeared on the IndieBound best seller list, with a high of #19. It was also briefly on the L.A. Times list, where it started off strong but soon dropped.9780316251334_a0111

Another new face to the USA Today list, at least in the top ten, is Brent Weeks who is holding the #10 spot with The Blood Mirror (Hachette/Orbit; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample), the fourth in his Lightbringer series. Weeks has been on the list before, his previous high was #26, for The Broken Eye (book three in that same series).

Dylan Breaks Nobel Silence

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

It seems Bob Dylan is pleased by the honor of being named the Nobel Laureate in Literature after all and will attend the ceremony in December, “if at all possible.” He is interviewed in the Telegraph.

Booker Winner Sales Surge

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

selloutPaul Beatty’s The Sellout (Macmillan/FSG; OverDrive Sample) jumped up Amazon’s sales ranking as a result of the announcement of the Man Booker Award yesterday. The trade paperback, released here in March, rose to #2 and the hardcover to #52.

Below is the first part of his emotional acceptance speech. For some reason, all the videos we found cut off before the end of the speech. Please let us know in the comments if you find a video of the full speech.

Below, Beatty speaks to the press after the award.

Man Booker Announcement

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

And the winner, for the first time ever, is a u US citizen, Paul Beatty,  for his satirical novel about race in America,  The Sellout (Macmillan/FSG; OverDrive Sample).

sellout  eileen-01  do-not-say

bloody-project-01 all-that-man hot-milk

US coverage of the longlist titles, below:

Paul Beatty, US, The Sellout (Macmillan/FSG; OverDrive Sample)
On several US best books lists for 2016 when it was published here, including the NYT Book Review‘s Top Ten and won the National Book Critics Award for Fiction. it was heavily reviewed here.

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

Madeleine Thien, Canada, Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Norton)
Published two weeks ago in the US, the daily NYT reviewed it warmly this week, calling it “a beautiful, sorrowful work.”  That followed an equally warm review earlier in the NYT Sunday Review. 

Graeme Macrae Burnet, UK, His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae, by Scotsman Graeme MaCrae Burnet (Skyhorse; OverDrive Sample).
Published by the tiny 2-person press Saraband in Scotland, this title’s appearance on the list has drawn headlines in the UK. Up until the longlist announcement, the book had received little attention and now it’s the best selling of the shortlist titles in the UK. Since it’s the last of the titles released here, it hasn’t received much coverage here yet. The author was recently interviewed by The Wall Street Journal [subscription may be required]. Endearing himself to librarians, just today, he spoke out about library cuts in Scotland, saying that “providing an increasingly vital role for local communities.” It was recently acquired for a TV series adaptation.

David Szalay, Canada-UK,  All That Man Is (Macmillan/Graywolf; OverDrive Sample). Also released in the US this month, it is recently reviewed by the daily NYT as well as the NYT Sunday Book Review and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Deborah Levy, UK,  Hot Milk (Macmillan/Bloomsbury; OverDrive Sample), Reviewed when it came out this summer in the daily NYT, the Washington Post and the NYT Book Review.