Archive for the ‘Awards & Prizes’ Category

Details on the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winners

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Details on the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winners – KansasCity.com.

Donna Tartt has won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her novel The Goldfinch.

Read about all the Pulitzer winners here.

Announcing the L.A. Times Book Prize finalists for 2013 – latimes.com

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Announcing the L.A. Times Book Prize finalists for 2013 – latimes.com.

The finalists for the 34th annual L.A. Times Book Prizes were announced Wednesday morning: 50 books in 10 categories are in the running to win the L.A. Times Book Prizes, to be awarded in April. Two authors will receive special recognition: John Green with the Innovators Award and Susan Straight with the Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement.

. . .

Among the 50 finalists are John Grisham, “Robert Galbraith” (aka J.K. Rowling), Doris Kearns Goodwin, A. Scott Berg, Joe Sacco, Percival Everett, Claire Messud, Rainbow Rowell, Alan Weisman, and Gene Luen Yang.

Be sure to look at the complete list of books/authors nominated.

Monday Miscellany

Monday, February 10th, 2014

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards

The Coretta Scott King Book Award was founded in 1969 in honor of the late Mrs. Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for her passion and dedication to working for peace. The awards are given to “outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.” Created by the American Library Association, this page provides a variety of resources, including a section on the history of the award and a list of all past award winners. Another great facet of this page is the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Donation Grant. The goal of this program is to increase children’s access to books by building the libraries of nontraditional institutions that provide services to children. Within Resources and Bibliographies, a series of educational materials related to multicultural and diversity resources and collections are also available.

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2014. https://www.scout.wisc.edu/

Oxford African American Studies Center: Focus on Women and Literature

The Oxford African American Studies Center has created this website to house its comprehensive collection of scholarship documenting the many and varied experiences that make up African and African American history and culture. Along with over 10,000 articles, 2,500 images, and 200 maps, the site features an excellent “Focus On” series each month, in which the editors compile various short articles, picture essays, and links on a designated topic. The Focus on Women and Literature is particularly noteworthy. Here, visitors can explore the life and works of influential women in American literature, from Phillis Wheatley to Toni Morrison. The site can be easily navigated by subject or by specific biography, with suggestions for related sources and content provided in each section. Additionally, curious visitors will find links to all of the previously featured subjects within the series, ranging from African Americans in Science and Technology to Black Homesteading in the American Western Frontier.

From The Scout Report, Copyright Internet Scout 1994-2014. https://www.scout.wisc.edu/

New Jane Austen manuscript criticises ‘men repeating prayers by rote’

A newly uncovered manuscript in which Jane Austen writes of men reciting prayers unthinkingly could shed light on the gestation of one of her novels.

The scrap of paper features a fragment copied out by the author from a sermon written by her brother, the Rev James Austen.

Now conservation experts are painstakingly lifting the snippet from the book it is stuck into so scholars can read the mysterious words she wrote on the back.

The passage in Austen’s handwriting, dating from 1814, states: “Men may get into a habit of repeating the words of our Prayers by rote, perhaps without thoroughly understanding – certainly without thoroughly feeling their full force & meaning.”

This reflects a theme that she wrote about in her novel Mansfield Park, which was published in the same year.

The Road Back: Frost’s Letters Could Soften a Battered Image

Few figures in American literature have suffered as strangely divided an afterlife as Robert Frost.

Even before his death in 1963, he was canonized as a rural sage, beloved by a public raised on poems of his like “Birches” and “The Road Not Taken.” But that image soon became shadowed by a darker one, stemming from a three-volume biography by his handpicked chronicler, Lawrance Thompson, who emerged from decades of assiduous note-taking with a portrait of the poet as a cruel, jealous megalomaniac — “a monster of egotism” who left behind “a wake of destroyed human lives,” as the critic Helen Vendler memorably put it on the cover of The New York Times Book Review in 1970.

A preview of The Letters of Robert Frost, “a projected four-volume edition of all the poet’s known correspondence that promises to offer the most rounded, complete portrait to date.” Harvard University Press will begin publishing the collection in late February.

Author Jonathan Lethem: Feminism seems so self-evident

Some writers would rather do anything but discuss their own work. Not Jonathan Lethem. A wiry bundle of passionate and lucid self-analysis, the guy can talk. And talk.

I’m waiting at his publisher’s office near the Thames when he swoops in from the rain, ready to bat for the British release of his new novel, Dissident Gardens. A postwar family saga about Rose Angrush, a Jewish communist in Lethem’s native New York, it’s a funny, often filthy book with a heavy subject – the slow death of political alternatives to capitalism after Stalin tainted Marxism.

For a writer who lifts tropes from science fiction and superhero comic strips, it feels like a gear change. His 2003 novel, The Fortress Of Solitude, featured two boys who procure a magic ring that enables them to fly. One reviewer ordered Lethem to grow up.

‘It’s like I took his advice, right?’ he laughs. Not really, he says, preppy in neat specs and trim blazer. ‘I turn 50 in a couple of weeks. It’s kind of funny the idea that I might have suddenly matured, as if everything up to this point was a retarded adolescence and – like the Hulk – I shook it off and became this mature novelist.

‘If you were to put my work into a really super-deliberate two-word synopsis, you might call the whole project “against escapism”. Ideology in Dissident Gardens is like the flying ring in The Fortress Of Solitude. It’s the thing that doesn’t help you live in the world.’

William S. Burroughs at 100: Exploding Five Major Myths

William S. Burroughs, literary scourge of the banal and the boring, best known as the author of the still outrageous Naked Lunch (1959), would have turned 100 on February 5.

Whether as novelist, essayist, painter, filmmaker, recording artist, mystic, expatriate, psychological patient, Scientologist, Beat progenitor, plagiarist, punk music godfather, anti-censorship activist, queer hero, science-fiction guru, junkie, media theorist, advertising model — or accidental murderer — the figure of Burroughs (1914-1997) casts as many shadows as the limits of each of these labels.

 

B&N Discover Finalists Revealed

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Barnes & Noble announced the six finalists for its 2013 Discover Great New Writers Awards, which “highlight works of exceptional literary quality that might otherwise be overlooked in a crowded book marketplace.”

The winners in each category, announced March 5, will receive $10,000 and a full year of additional promotion from Barnes & Noble. Second-place finalists receive $5,000, and third-place finalists receive $2,500.

via B&N Discover Finalists Revealed.

2014 Edgar Nominees Announced

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

The Mystery Writers of America revealed the nominees for the 2014 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction and television, published or produced in 2013. The Edgar award winners will be announced at a gala banquet on May 1, in New York City.

via 2014 Edgar Nominees Announced.

National Book Awards go to James McBride, George Packer

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

National Book Awards go to James McBride, George Packer – latimes.com.

AP News: Mexican author wins Spain Cervantes letters prize

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

AP News: Mexican author wins Spain Cervantes letters prize.

Lynn Coady Wins The 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Lynn Coady has been named the 2013 winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize for her short story collection Hellgoing, published by House of Anansi Press.

via Lynn Coady Wins The 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Monday Miscellany: Big Literary News Edition

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Meet Alice Munro, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

Cover: Dear LifeThe big literary news of last week was the announcement of Canadian writer Alice Munro as recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Munro is generally considered to be the current master of the short-fiction form.

The announcement generated a lot of articles about Munro’s life of literary accomplishments. Here are some of the most useful that serve as a primer of Alice Munro’s life and works.

A Beginner’s Guide to Alice Munro

Back in July 2012, to celebrate the publication of Munro’s most recent book, Dear Life, Ben Dolnick, a self-proclaimed Alice Munro fanatic, offered this overview at The Millions:

Considering which of Alice Munro’s stories to read can feel something like considering what to eat from an enormous box of chocolates. There are an overwhelming number of choices, many of which have disconcertingly similar appearances — and, while you’re very likely to choose something delicious, there is the slight but real possibility of finding yourself stuck with, say, raspberry ganache.

A Nobel reading list: Essential Alice Munro books

From USA Today:

Canadian writer Alice Munro, “master of the contemporary short story,” has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for her body of work. Here is a list of books by the 82-year-old author, who recently said she was retiring from writing:

From the Archive: From fact to fiction

The Montreal Gazette reprinted this article from 2005:

The events of Alice Munro’s life – an Ontario girlhood, university, marriage and a move to the West Coast, motherhood, the breakup of the marriage and a move back east – are the stuff of fiction (hers) and the stuff of life, a life laid bare in Robert Thacker’s new biography, Alice Munro: Writing Her Lives.


Reading Literary Fiction Increases Empathy

woman reading

The other recent event of literary interest is the release of findings of a new study suggesting that reading literary fiction increases empathy, or the ability to understand why people act as they do.The research was conducted by a professor and a graduate student from the New School for Social Research in New York City. Here’s what the institution says in its press release:

Ph.D. candidate David Comer Kidd and his advisor, professor of psychology Emanuele Castano performed five experiments to measure the effect of reading literary fiction on participants’ Theory of Mind (ToM), the complex social skill of “mind-reading” to understand others’ mental states. Their paper, which appears in the Oct. 3 issue of Science is entitled “Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind.”

In their experiments the researchers studied three different types of written material:

To choose texts for their study, Kidd and Castano relied on expert evaluations to define three types of writing: literary fiction, popular fiction, and nonfiction. Literary fiction works were represented by excerpts from recent National Book Award finalists or winners of the 2012 PEN/O. Henry Prize for short fiction; popular fiction works were drawn from Amazon.com bestsellers or an anthology of recent popular fiction; and non-fiction works were selected from Smithsonian Magazine.

And the results of the several experiments were consistent:

Across the five experiments, Kidd and Castano found that participants who were assigned to read literary fiction performed significantly better on the ToM [theory of mind] tests than did participants assigned to the other experimental groups, who did not differ from one another.

The study shows that not just any fiction is effective in fostering ToM, rather the literary quality of the fiction is the determining factor. The literary texts used in the experiments had vastly different content and subject matter, but all produced similarly high ToM results.

The researchers’ discussion of the results suggests the following explanation:

Kidd and Castano suggest that the reason for literary fiction’s impact on ToM is a direct result of the ways in which it involves the reader. Unlike popular fiction, literary fiction requires intellectual engagement and creative thought from its readers. “Features of the modern literary novel set it apart from most bestselling thrillers or romances. Through the use of […] stylistic devices, literary fiction defamiliarizes its readers,” Kidd and Castano write. “Just as in real life, the worlds of literary fiction are replete with complicated individuals whose inner lives are rarely easily discerned but warrant exploration.”

Lots of news outlets jumped on this story, eager to give it their own spin. Here are some of the more interesting offerings.

Novel Finding: Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy

Scientific American chose this emphasis:

How important is reading fiction in socializing school children? Researchers at The New School in New York City have found evidence that literary fiction improves a reader’s capacity to understand what others are thinking and feeling.

For Better Social Skills, Scientists Recommend a Little Chekhov

Pam Belluck, writing in The New York Times, chose this approach:

Say you are getting ready for a blind date or a job interview. What should you do? Besides shower and shave, of course, it turns out you should read — but not just anything. Something by Chekhov or Alice Munro will help you navigate new social territory better than a potboiler by Danielle Steel.

That is the conclusion of a study published Thursday in the journal Science. It found that after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking.

Want To Read Others’ Thoughts? Try Reading Literary Fiction

For National Public Radio (NPR), Nell Greenfieldboyce concluded:

This study could be a first step toward a better understanding of how the arts influence how we think, says David Comer Kidd, a graduate student who coauthored the study with Castano.

“We’re having a lot of debates right now about the value of the arts, the value of the humanities,” Kidd says. “Municipalities are facing budget cuts and there are questions about why are we supporting these libraries. And one thing that’s noticeably absent from a lot of these debates is empirical evidence.”

Book News: Reading Fiction May Boost Empathy, and Other Stories from the Week

In a blog post for The New Yorker, Rachel Arons also speculated about the implications of the research:

Though the study leaves many questions unanswered—like how “literary” the fiction has to be to have an impact, or how long the empathy boost lasts—the researchers hope that studies like this one, which demonstrate the quantifiable benefits of reading literature, could have an impact on curriculum design in schools. (The Common Core standards have attracted criticism for emphasizing nonfiction over literature.)

 

Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature – NYTimes.com

Canadian writer Alice Munro, master of the short-fiction form, has won the Nobel Prize in Literature:

Ms. Munro revolutionized the architecture of short stories, often beginning a story in an unexpected place, then moving backward or forward in time. She brought a modesty and subtle wit to her work that her admirers often traced to her background growing up in rural Canada. She said she fell into writing short stories, the form that would make her famous, somewhat by accident.

“For years and years I thought that stories were just practice, till I got time to write a novel,” she told The New Yorker in 2012. “Then I found that they were all I could do, and so I faced that. I suppose that my trying to get so much into stories has been a compensation.”

She is the 13th woman to win the prize, which currently amounts to approximately $1.2 million.