On Friday, the National Book Foundation, in partnership with The New Yorker, announced the Longlist for Fiction for the 2017 National Book Awards, rounding out the Longlists for the four categories celebrated by the Award, among the highest literary awards given in the United States.
The mission of the National Book Foundation and the National Book Awards is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America. Though it’s had it’s ups and downs, trying to find cultural relevancy and “fit in” to American culture, the National Book Award today has emerged as an important way to recognize some of the great work going on in American literature–and a great way for us readers to discover new books! So here are the longlists for each of the four categories that the National Book Award celebrates. Come into the Library soon to learn about each of these titles!
The short list will come out on Oct. 4, and the winners will be announced in a ceremony on Nov. 15. And we’ll be here for both announcements!
In the wee hours of the morning, we learned the titles that made the shortlist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize, one of our favorite fiction awards here at the Library.
As a lot of news outlets have noted, there are a number of surprises in this list. The first is that many of the really big names who were a part of the longlist, including Sebastian Barry, Arundhati Roy, and Zadie Smith, did not make the shortlist. The second is that two debut authors, Emily Fridlund and Fiona Mozley, who are also the youngest nominees. For many, the final surprise is that half the list are American authors.
The bidding has begun, with bookmakers giving George Saunders’ Lincoln at the Bardothe best odds to win, and there is no doubt that speculation, debates, and a lot of reading, will be going on between now and when the final announcement is made on October 17th. But, as noted on the Man Booker website:
If there is anyone who will find the next month more relaxing than previous ones, it is the judges themselves. Not that their work is done but rather that they can take a bit more time over things. They have read each of the shortlisted books a minimum of twice already and now they will have to read them for a third time and ask themselves not which book is a contender to win but which book deserves to win. For all concerned the next four weeks will seem simultaneously a very long and a very short time. Hopefully, for a few days at least, they can all take a couple of moments to reflect – and maybe even congratulate themselves – on what they have achieved so far.
So here, without further ado, is the shortlist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. Come in and check out these titles, and make your own educated guesses about who will win, today!
As we discussed back in May, the International Dublin Literary Award is funded entirely by the City of Dublin, Ireland, and is awarded each year for a novel written in English or translated into English. It’s among the richest literary prizes in the world–and it also one of our favorites, because all the books are nominated by Libraries from around the world! The diversity of reading habits, culture, and geography makes this award a genuinely unpredictable, eclectic, and rewarding one, and so it was with great excitement that we received the news about Mr. Agualusa’s win for A General Theory of Oblivion, along with Daniel Hahn, who translated the work into English.
Agualusa’s novel recounts the story of an Ludo, a Portuguese woman living in Angola, who locks herself into her apartment during the Angolan War of Independence, just before independence from Portugal. She attempts to cut herself off from the external world, growing vegetables in her apartment and luring in pigeons. Her only knowledge of the outside world comes from the snippets of conversation she overhears from her neighbors and the radio. Three decades pass this way, until until she meets a young boy who informs her of the radical changes which have occurred in the country in the intervening years.
Critics praised Agualusa for his subject matter, with The Scotsman stating that he was responsible for opening up “the world of Portuguese-speaking Africa to the English-speaking community.” He attracted further critical praise for the manner in which he condensed a cryptic and complicated conflict into something that everyday readers can digest, understand, and feel. His work has also drawn comparisons to Emma Donoghue’s Roombecause it so deftly creates an entire world in a tiny, confined space.
You can read Agualusa’s acceptance speech here, via the Dublin Literary Award website, but I would like to point out a specific excerpt from the speech here, because it warmed the cockles of my Library-loving heart:
I was glad to learn that a book of mine was chosen for this prize for many reasons, but particularly because of the selection process – because the books are chosen by public libraries – and because the whole award process is run by Dublin City Public Libraries. I became a writer in public libraries. Not only because if I hadn’t had access to books in some of these libraries, as a child, I never would have started writing, but because to a great extent my first book was actually written in a public library.
If literature develops our empathy muscles, makes us better people, then you might think of public libraries as weapons of massive construction: powerful tools for personal development and the development of societies.
“What we really need is a public library, because people don’t have access to books, so if I can do something to help that, it will be great,” Agualusa says. “We have already found a place and I can put my own personal library in there and open it to the people of the island. It’s been a dream for a long time.”
From Libraries, back to Libraries–so congratulations, and Thank You to José Eduardo Agualusa!
If you’d like to read A General Theory of Oblivion, come in or call, and talk to a member of your friendly Reference Staff, who can order you a copy through the Commonwealth Catalog!
Last night, the winners of the 2017 Hugo Awards were announced at Worldcon 75, in Helsinki, Finland. We talked a good deal about the Hugo Awards a few months ago, covering the really troubling “Puppies” and their attempt to hijack the awards (which are voted on at the Con itself), as well as the need to celebrate diverse books of all kinds, genres, and forms.
So it’s a delight to present this list of award winners, which highlights the diversity of the science fiction genre, and, hopefully, will provide you with plenty of ideas for your To Be Read pile!
In total, 2464 valid nominating ballots (2458 electronic and 6 paper) were received and counted from the members of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 World Science Fiction Conventions, and 3319 members of the 2017 Worldcon cast vote on the final ballot.
Best Editor, Long Form: Liz Gorinsky (editor with Tor Books and Tor.com)
A big, Free-For-All Congratulations to all the winners!
*A number of Hugos are awarded for materials that the Library does not stock, such as fan fiction, fanzines, and visual arts. We nevertheless support and celebrate their achievements, and you can read the whole list of winners here.
The lovely people at the Man Booker Prize have announced their longlist for the 2017 award, and the fiction world is abuzz.
As with all awards, there are debates raging about who was left off the list, as I’m sure we’ve all read a book this year that we want lauded from the mountaintops. The Booker Prize year runs from October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017, so books published outside that window are automatically ineligible. It’s also very much worth considering our discussion of class and awards from earlier this summer, and thinking about whose stories aren’t being told here.
However, for what it’s worth, there are some terrific stories being told in these books. Two are from Irish authors, two from UK-Pakistani authors, four Americans authors, four UK authors, and one Indian author (Arundhati Roy’s debut novel, God of Small Things, won the Booker Prize in 1997, and this book is her ‘return to fiction’). Many of these books have been nominated for other awards (especially Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad), and many authors have been shortlisted previously (Sebastian Barry, Ali Smith, Zadie Smith, and Mohsin Hamid), while Jon McGregor is longlisted for a third time. There are also debut novels from young writers, giving us a taste of the geographic breadth, scope, and drive of fiction from around the English-speaking world. As Chair of the 2017 judges, Baroness Lola Young, says:
Only when we’d finally selected our 13 novels did we fully realise the huge energy, imagination and variety in them as a group. The longlist showcases a diverse spectrum — not only of voices and literary styles but of protagonists too, in their culture, age and gender. Nevertheless we found there was a spirit common to all these novels: though their subject matter might be turbulent, their power and range were life-affirming – a tonic for our times.
Together their authors — both recognised and new — explore an array of literary forms and techniques, from those working in a traditional vein to those who aim to move the walls of fiction.
So have a look at the list, place your bets, and we’ll be here to announce the short list to you when it’s released on September 13!
We’re a little late on this news, dear readers, for which please accept our humble apologies. However, we are still thrilled and delighted to offer some big Free For All congratulations to David Grossman and Jessica Cohen for the novel A Horse Walks Into a Bar!
Description: The setting is a comedy club in a small Israeli town. An audience that has come expecting an evening of amusement instead sees a comedian falling apart on stage; an act of disintegration, a man crumbling before their eyes as a matter of choice. They could get up and leave, or boo and whistle and drive him from the stage, if they were not so drawn to glimpse his personal hell.
Dovale Gee, a veteran stand-up comic – charming, erratic, repellent – exposes a wound he has been living with for years: a fateful and gruesome choice he had to make between the two people who were dearest to him.
The Guardian quoted the chair of judges of the award, who said of Grossman’s work:
“David Grossman has attempted an ambitious high-wire act of a novel, and he’s pulled it off spectacularly…A Horse Walks into a Barshines a spotlight on the effects of grief, without any hint of sentimentality. The central character is challenging and flawed, but completely compelling. We were bowled over by Grossman’s willingness to take emotional as well as stylistic risks: every sentence counts, every word matters in this supreme example of the writer’s craft.”
Grossman shares the award with his translator, Jessica Cohen. The New York Times did an interview with Cohen and Grossman just after the prize was announced at the V&A Museum in London, and discussed the process of finding a translator, and the incredibly laborious, loving effort that goes into translating a work–and often, the un-translatable nature of humor:
“A Horse Walks Into a Bar” obviously raises a particular question of how to translate jokes. Are there any examples of jokes you weren’t able to translate?
COHEN There were a few examples of jokes — not so much because of pacing or sound but because of cultural knowledge a non-Israeli reader wouldn’t have — that just weren’t going to work in English. Obviously if you have to explain something, it’s not funny. There were some cases like that where I managed to come up with a kind of equivalent. Some things we just had to drop.