On Thursday, November 15, the National Book Award winners were announced in New York, in a ceremony hosted by Nick Offerman. In addition, writer Luís Alberto Urrea presented the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to Isabel Allende, saying in his presentation that “Isabel is calling us to believe in words of love, words of witness. You can’t build a wall to keep them out. You can’t lock them up. She has taught us that words have wings. They fly over barriers, and they sing all over the globe.” Hidden Figures author Margot Lee Shetterly presented Doron Weber with the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. Weber is the vice president and program director for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation,which runs a program for Public Understanding of Science, Technology & Economics, which supports projects that bridge science and the arts (check out the link–it’s a pretty amazing place!).
Then came the announcement of the Winners of National Book Awards in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature. We are pleased to list the winners below, with links to their NOBLE catalog entries. Come into the Library and check out these award-winning books for yourself!
Over the summer, we discussed the PBS’ eight-part series, The Great American Read, which explored and celebrated the power of reading, told through the prism of America’s 100 best-loved novels (as chosen in a national survey). Today, we are pleased to share the results of this nationwide survey and study of literature.
In order to obtain the most representative and encompassing list, PBS and the producers worked with the public opinion polling service “YouGov” to conduct a demographically and statistically representative survey asking Americans to name their most-loved novel. Approximately 7,200 people participated. From that survey, a list was developed that included books from the 1600s to 2016, genres from thrillers to young adult novels, from sci-fi/fantasy and adventure to historical fiction.
One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father—a crusading local lawyer—risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.
To Kill a Mockingbird led The Great American Read voting from the first week, and kept the lead for the entire five months of voting, despite strong competition from the rest of our five finalists. It also topped the list of votes in every state except North Carolina (who went for Outlander) and Wyoming (who preferred Lord of The Rings). Such widespread support from readers across the country make To Kill a Mockingbird a worthy winner of The Great American Read.
Did you watch this series? Did you vote? Are you participating in reading the books on the Great American Read list? If so, come in and let us know! And, as ever, our hearts and our thanks are with Harper Lee, for giving us a book that brought together nearly all of the country.
Ever the fans of the dramatic, the National Book Awards are drip-feeding us their nominations for the best books of the year. The nominations for Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature have all been announced, and we’re looking forward to bringing you the announcement of the Fiction long list tomorrow, after the announcement is made around 10:00am EST.
The nominations this year reflect the surge of new talent and diverse voices that we have been fortunate enough to enjoy in our reading this year. Among the poetry long list, only one author has previously won (Terrance Hayes; Pulitzer-Prize winner Rae Armantrout was nominated in 2009).
This year also marks the first award for translated literature, a sign that the award itself is hearing the multitude of voices telling stories around us. Not only are the authors themselves telling stories from a range of different locations and in a number of different languages, but seven of the titles were also put out by independent presses, highlighting how publishing itself is changing around us, as well. It’s a heady time to be a reader, beloved patrons, and we are 100% on board for all the fun!
So here, without further ado, are the current National Book Award long lists. We look forward to adding to this list in the coming days, and seeing how the awards program progresses to the final announcement of the National Book Awards on November 14!
A note: If you click the link in the authors’ names, you will be taken to the National Book Award website for that writer. If you are looking to locate the books in our library catalog, please click on the book’s title where a link is available.
We’ve covered the Hugo Awards here before, beloved patrons, especially the attempt of a number of disaffected, insular members of WorldCon (the body responsible for suggesting nominees and winners) who have attempted to topple the awards to suit their own agendas. This year’s awards had nothing to do with them.
Instead, this year’s Hugos were marked by an historic win for N.K. Jemisin, who won her third consecutive Hugo for the third book in her Broken Earth trilogy. With this win, she becomes the first ever three-time winner of the Hugos (The Fifth Season won in 2016, and The Obelisk Gate won in 2017).
The Hugos are voted on by WorldCon members rather than by committee, and thus they’re generally seen as a barometer of changing trends and evolving conversations within sci-fi/fantasy (SFF) culture. By voting for Jemisin’s trilogy three years running, the speculative fiction community has effectively repudiated a years-long campaign, mounted by an alt-right subculture within its midst, to combat the recent rise to prominence of women and other marginalized voices in the SFF space.
But perhaps the best part of the whole award ceremony was Jemisin’s acceptance speech, in which she acknowledged the roots of her writing, her role within a community of story-tellers, and her hopes for the future through sci-fi and fantasy writing. We quote from the speech here in part, but you can read the whole thing here:
I get a lot of questions about where the themes of the Broken Earth trilogy come from. I think it’s pretty obvious that I’m drawing on the human history of structural oppression, as well as my feelings about this moment in American history. What may be less obvious, though, is how much of the story derives from my feelings about science fiction and fantasy. Then again, SFF is a microcosm of the wider world, in no way rarefied from the world’s pettiness or prejudice.
But another thing I tried to touch on in the Broken Earth is that life in a hard world is never just the struggle. Life is family, blood and found. Life is those allies who prove themselves worthy by actions and not just talk. Life means celebrating every victory, no matter how small.
So as I stand here before you, beneath these lights, I want you to remember that 2018 is also a good year. This is a year in which records have been set. A year in which even the most privilege-blindered of us has been forced to acknowledge that the world is broken and needs fixing—and that’s a good thing! Acknowledging the problem is the first step toward fixing it. I look to science fiction and fantasy as the aspirational drive of the Zeitgeist: we creators are the engineers of possibility. And as this genre finally, however grudgingly, acknowledges that the dreams of the marginalized matter and that all of us have a future, so will go the world. (Soon, I hope.)
The Free-for-All is delighted to congratulate all the winners on their achievements! Here is a selection of the list of winners. You can read the full list via the WorldCon 76 website.
It’s here! It’s here! Not that we are excited about this or anything, but the judges of the 2018 Man Booker Prize released their long list this week, and we are all a-twitter with excitement, not only because the Man Book adds so much to our “To Be Read” lists around here, but also because this year, a graphic novel made the long list! This is also the first year that novels published in Ireland are eligible for the prize, following a change in rules announced at the start of 2018 that recognised the special relationship between the UK and Irish publishing markets.
This year’s longlist of 13 books was selected by a panel of five judges: by the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah (Chair); crime writer Val McDermid; cultural critic Leo Robson; feminist writer and critic Jacqueline Rose; and artist and graphic novelistLeanne Shapton. Their choice was not an easy one–this year saw some 171 submissions to the prize panel, representing the highest number of titles put forward in the prize’s 50 year history.
“Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the times, there were many dystopian fictions on our bookshelf – and many novels we found inspirational as well as disturbing…All of these books – which take in slavery, ecology, missing persons, inner-city violence, young love, prisons, trauma, race – capture something about a world on the brink. Among their many remarkable qualities is a willingness to take risks with form. And we were struck, overall, by their disruptive power: these novels disrupted the way we thought about things we knew about, and made us think about things we didn’t know about. Still, despite what they have in common, every one of these books is wildly distinctive. It’s been an exhilarating journey so far and we’re looking forward to reading them again. But now we’ll have thousands and thousands of people reading along with us.”
So let’s take a look at the list. As ever, where the books are available in NOBLE, or not (yet) available in the US, we have done our best to provide a point of access for you, or the expected publication date. Let us know if you need assistance accessing these (or any other) titles!
2018 Man Booker Long List, featuring titles, author, and author’s nationality.
Congratulations to all the long-listed books and authors! On September 20, the judges will be announcing the short list of nominees, and the 2018 Man Booker Prize will be awarded on Tuesday, October 16. Check back here for all the details!
Flights is a fascinating, genre-defying set of linked fragments that travel from the 17th century to the present day, connected by themes of travel and human anatomy: A seventeenth-century Dutch anatomist discovers the Achilles tendon by dissecting his own amputated leg. Chopin’s heart is carried back to Warsaw in secret by his adoring sister. A woman must return to her native Poland in order to poison her terminally-ill high-school sweetheart, and a young man slowly descends into madness when his wife and child mysteriously vanish during a vacation and just as suddenly reappear. Through these brilliantly imagined characters and stories, interwoven with haunting, playful, and revelatory meditations, Flightsexplores what it means to be a traveler, a wanderer, a body in motion not only through space but through time.
In a statement by the Man Booker Prize committee, Lisa Appignanesi, who led the judging panel, said: ‘Our deliberations were hardly easy, since our shortlist was such a strong one. But I’m very pleased to say that we decided on the great Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk as our winner: Tokarczuk is a writer of wonderful wit, imagination and literary panache. In Flights, brilliantly translated by Jennifer Croft, by a series of startling juxtapositions she flies us through a galaxy of departures and arrivals, stories and digressions, all the while exploring matters close to the contemporary and human predicament – where only plastic escapes mortality.’
Olga Tokarczuk and Jennifer Croft will share the £50,000 prize. If you would like to experience the wonder of Flights—and Croft’s incredible translation–come by and talk to our friendly reference staff soon!
"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." ~Frederick Douglass