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.)
The National Book Foundation’s plan to release the news of its fiction long list Thursday morning was foiled by news outlets that posted the list Wednesday afternoon. With the embargo broken, we bring you the list now; it includes a National Book Award winner, two National Book Award finalists, and a debut novelist who happens to be a popular musician.
The National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards, announced that it will award its 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to Ursula K. Le Guin. Neil Gaiman will present the award to Le Guin at the 65th National Book Awards Ceremony on November 19, in New York City.
Trailing Philip Roth by a few months and Toni Morrison by two years, Cormac McCarthy (who turns 81 this weekend) is one of America’s greatest and most decorated writers. His cultural stock has risen immeasurably in the last decade — whether it’s the Coen brothers adapting No Country for Old Men and winning Best Picture at the Oscars for it, or his recent (disappointing) original screenplay for the Ridley Scott-directed film The Counselor, McCarthy has made the transition from great novelist to phenomenon. He’s continuously successful, but he’s never changed, and doesn’t show any signs of letting his advanced age soften him. His entire body of work includes screenplays, plays, and short fiction — but it’s his novels that remain his greatest achievement, so to celebrate his birthday, we rank the five McCarthy novels you must read (and if it helps, the order in which you should do it.)
This was perhaps the biggest literary news of the past week:
The Man Booker prize longlist was revealed today with American authors in the running for one of literature’s top honours for the first time.
Organisers of the UK’s best-known fiction award – worth £50,000 to the winner – announced last year they were opening up the 46-year-old prize to writers of any nationality writing in English.
The American writers on the list include David Mitchell, David Nicholls, and Howard Jacobson.
Michele Filgate tells us, “some of the most interesting and useful hashtags on Twitter are designed to build community in the far-flung literary world.”
To join the community, take a look at these seven hashtags she explains.
- The Zhivago Affair: the Kremlin, the CIA and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book by Peter Finn and Petra Couvée
- The Most Dangerous Book: the Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses by Kevin Birmingham
- The Rushdie Fatwa and After: a Lesson to the Circumspect by Brian Winston
Chances are that, if you’re reading this blog, you probably already know some of the tricks listed here.
However, I bet you’ll find something new in these suggestions by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. If nothing else, you’ll get permission to stop reading a book that doesn’t grab you instead of soldiering through to the bitter end.
Cable network FXX will run a non-stop marathon of all 552 episodes of The Simpsons from August 21 through September 1.
If you need a literary reason to justify watching or recording, here it is:
To mark the ultimate Simpsons marathon, we’re highlighting our favourite hilarious literary references that made their way onto the show in past years.