Marlon James’s explosive novel about Jamaica, “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” has won this year’s Anisfield-Wolf fiction prize.
Billed as “the only national juried prize for literature that confronts racism and examines diversity,” the Anisfield-Wolf book awards in fiction, nonfiction and poetry are sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation.
Puget Sound seems to be a center of fandom for what’s often called speculative fiction. For one thing, Tacoma was the home of Frank Herbert, author of the 1965 science fiction classic “Dune.”
In 2015, the calendar is filled with fan functions devoted to science fiction and fantasy from Emerald City Comicon, in Seattle from Friday through Sunday, to Tacoma’s Jet City Comic Show in October
In the Tacoma newspaper The News Tribune, Craig Sailor interviews Brett Rogers, assistant professor of classics at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. Rogers “pursues a wide range of subjects that include Homer and classical drama, superhero narratives and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’”
Rogers and colleague Ben Stevens recently published The Once and Future Antiquity: Classical Traditions in Science Fiction and Fantasy, a book of essays about the links between the ancient classics and present day science fiction and fantasy.
This Friday and Saturday the University of Puget Sound will host a conference that focuses on “all things related to speculative fiction.”
Asked how he defines science fiction, Rogers replied that it’s not just about robots and space travel:
We’re more interested in how science fiction is not product oriented, cyborgs (for example), but process oriented — the way it gets people to think differently and imaginatively about their interaction with the world.
Rogers says he doesn’t believe in rigid definitions for terms such as science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction. To Sailor’s question of what science fiction and fantasy allow us to do that regular fiction does not, Rogers replied that many people say they allow us to run thought experiments: If you have different starting premises, how might things turn out differently? Mystery and wonder, a way to explore the unknown, are other aspects of the power of speculative fiction, according to Rogers.
This year is the 50th anniversary of Tacoma writer Frank Herbert’s Dune. Rogers praised Herbert’s ability at creating a complete world: “What Tolkien does with elves and dwarves and dragons, Herbert does with prophetic powers and spice that is mined from the desert planet of Arrakis.” Rogers also says that Herbert plays with narrative structure in the novel in a way that challenges readers’ expectations. By presenting various parts of the narrative from different characters’ points of view, Herbert requires readers to put the various pieces of the story together.
In addition to this weekend’s conference at UPS in Tacoma, the Emerald City Comicon will take place Friday through Sunday at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Tickets for Comicon are sold out.
Mary Ann Gwinn reports that spring used to be a quiet time for publishing, but not any more. Here she lists notable books to be published between March and June, including the following:
- Fiction by Kazuo Ishiguro, Sara Gruen, Toni Morrison, Kate Atkinson, Jane Smiley, Neal Stephenson, Judy Blume, Stephanie Kallos, and Stephen King
- Nonfiction by Robert Putnam, Tony Angell, David Brooks, David McCullough, Val McDermid, Willie Nelson, and Oliver Sacks
The finalists for the prestigious literary award the Man Booker International Prize were announced on Tuesday by the chair of judges, Marina Warner, in South Africa at the University of Cape Town. The Man Booker International Prize recognizes an author’s achievement through a body of work covering the writer’s career. Previous winners include American novelist Philip Roth, Canadian writer Alice Munro, and the late Chinua Achebe.
Here is the list of finalists:
- Mia Couto of Mozambique
- Marlene van Niekerk of South Africa
- Ibrahim al-Koni of Libya
- Alain Mabanckou of the Republic of Congo
- Cesar Aira of Argentina
- Maryse Conde of Guadeloupe
- Amitav Ghosh of India
- Fanny Howe of the United States of America
- Laszlo Krasznahorkai of Hungary
- Hoda Barakat of Lebanon
“This is a most interesting and enlightening list of finalists,” said Jonathan Taylor, chairman of the Booker Prize Foundation. “It brings attention to writers from far and wide, so many of whom are in translation. As a result, our reading lists will surely be hugely expanded.”
The prize is 60,000 pounds, or about $90,000. The winner will be announced in London on May 19.
Marilynne Robinson won the National Book Critics Circle Award on Thursday for her novel “Lila,” the final book in her trilogy set in the fictional Gilead, Iowa.
. . .
David Brion Davis won the nonfiction award for “The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation,” the third volume of his trilogy and the culmination of nearly 50 years of research.
Claudia Rankine won the poetry award for “Citizen: An American Lyric,” a meditation on race in America that weaves together poetry, sports and pop culture references and cultural criticism. (Ms. Rankine was nominated in two categories: poetry and criticism.) The criticism award went to “The Essential Ellen Willis,” a collection of work by the rock critic Ellen Willis. John Lahr won the biography prize for “Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh.”
Phil Klay’s “Redeployment,” a debut collection of searching, satiric and often agonized stories by an Iraq war veteran, has won the National Book Award for fiction.
Klay was chosen Wednesday night over such high-profile finalists as Marilynne Robinson’s “Lila” and Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven.” His book was the first debut release to win in fiction since Julia Glass’ “The Three Junes” in 2002, the first story collection to win since Andrea Barrett’s “Ship Fever” in 1996 and the first fiction win for an Iraq veteran.
This article also includes news of the other National Book Awards.
The National Book Foundation has revealed the finalists for the 2014 National Book Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. The fiction shortlist includes 2014 “5 Under 35″ honoree Phil Klay, along with two-time National Book Award finalist and a Pulitzer Prize winner, Marilynne Robinson. Also shortlisted, for nonfiction, is Roz Chast, the first cartoonist to be honored by the National Book Awards in the adult categories.
The Australian novelist Richard Flanagan was awarded the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday for “The Narrow Road to the Deep North,” which tells the harrowing story of an Australian surgeon who is held in a Japanese P.O.W. camp and is forced to work on the Thailand-Burma Railway.
This city [Portland, Oregon] has a deeply dyed liberal impulse beating in its veins around social and environmental causes, and a literary culture that has flourished like the blackberry thickets that mark misty Northwest woods. It is also one of the most bike-friendly, if not bike-crazed, urban spaces in the nation, as measured by commuters and bike lanes. All three of those forces are combined in Street Books, a nonprofit book service delivered by pedal-power for “people living outside,” as Ms. Moulton, the founder, describes the mission.
Here’s an article about a subject I couldn’t even have imagined: William James stoned.
These words were set to paper in 1882 by William James, one of the most celebrated proponents of the new science of psychology, and a newly minted assistant professor of philosophy at Harvard. James was in many ways the paragon of an eminent Victorian—his writing tends to summon images of the author ensconced beside a roaring fire in some cozy wood-paneled study in Cambridge. And yet here James comes off as utterly, absurdly stoned.
. . .
James acknowledged to his readers that these ravings were the product of a mental state that, like alcohol intoxication, “seems silly to lookers-on.” But he came away from the experience with a remarkably positive take on nitrous oxide. James had argued that drunkenness produced a kind of “subjective rapture” occasioned by its ability to make “the centre and periphery of things seem to come together.” Nitrous oxide, he believed, produced a similar effect, “only a thousandfold enhanced.” On the gas, his mind was “seized … by logical forceps” and jolted into a new order of consciousness which, he thought, made the logic of Hegelian dialectics perfectly obvious to him.
This year’s Washington State Book Awards include a best-selling nonfiction book about the University of Washington crew team that won a gold medal in the 1936 Olympics; one writer’s investigation into his ancestors in Eastern Europe and the fate of their descendants; a novel based on the life of a seventh-century English saint; and poetry by a Seattle author.
Brian Turner packed his poetry and went to war with a Joint Base Lewis-McChord Stryker brigade. Now, he’s returned with an acclaimed memoir.
With “My Life as a Foreign Country,” Turner has earned both accolades and, it seems, a measure of peace. The former infantryman has also fleshed out what he previously hinted at in poems dug from the hard ground in Iraq.
“The landscape is war,” the Fresno, California, native said in an interview, not for the first time, “but the actual subject is love and loss.”
Patrick Modiano, the French novelist whose works often explore the traumas of the Nazi occupation of France and hinge on the themes of memory, loss and the puzzle of identity, won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.
In an announcement in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy cited Mr. Modiano’s ability to evoke “the most ungraspable human destinies” in his work.
As one wit on Twitter put it, “Paul Modiano has never heard of you, either.”
BuzzFeed Books is honored to celebrate the fantastic young writers of the National Book Foundation’s 9th annual 5 Under 35, chosen by past winners and finalists of the National Book Awards. “The National Book Foundation’s 5 under 35 program is about supporting a rising generation of talented authors,” said Leslie Shipman, Assistant Director of the National Book Foundation.
What I particularly like about this list is its international flavor.
Walter Isaacson’s study of digital innovators and E.O. Wilson’s reflections on human existence are among the books on the longlist for the National Book Award in nonfiction, announced this morning.
Given the elastic dimensions of the category (anything nonfiction) and the number of submissions (almost 500), the NBA judges still managed to come up with a group of 10 contenders that includes only one woman: New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast. (She’s also the first cartoonist to come this close to a National Book Award in one of the adult categories.)