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G&A: The Contest Blog

The National Book Foundation has announced the shortlists for its 2014 National Book Awards. The finalists in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and young people's literature were announced this morning on NPR’s Morning Edition by Mitchell Kaplan, cofounder of Miami Book Fair International and former president of the American Booksellers Association. 

The finalists in poetry are Louise Glück, Faithful and Virtuous Night (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Fanny Howe, Second Childhood (Graywolf Press); Maureen N. McLane, This Blue (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Fred Moten, The Feel Trio (Letter Machine Editions); and Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press).

The finalists in fiction are Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman (Grove Press); Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See (Scribner); Phil Klay, Redeployment (Penguin); Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (Knopf); and Marilynne Robinson, Lila (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

The finalists in nonfiction are Roz Chast, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury); Anand Gopal, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes (Metropolitan Books); Evan Osnos, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); John Lahr, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (Norton); and Edward O. Wilson, The Meaning of Human Existence (Liveright).

The finalists in young people’s literature are John Corey Whaley, Noggin (Atheneum Books); Deborah Wiles, Revolution (Scholastic); Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen Books); Eliot Schrefer, Threatened (Scholastic); and Steve Sheinkin, The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights (Roaring Books Press).

The finalists were selected from a longlist in each category. Fiction heavyweights Richard Powers and Jane Smiley failed to make the cut, while relative newcomers Phil Klay and Emily St. John Mandel join Pulitzer Prize–winner Marilynne Robinson, whose novel Home was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2008. On the poetry side, veteran Edward Hirsch was also cut from the longlist, while favorites Glück, Howe, and Rankine (who earlier this year received the $50,000 Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers, Inc.) top the list.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in New York City on November 19, headlined by Daniel Handler—also known as Lemony Snicket. 

Photo: Claudia Rankine

Australian author Richard Flanagan has won the 2014 Man Booker Prize for his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Flanagan, fifty-three, was presented with the award by the Duchess of Cornwall at a ceremony this evening at London's Guildhall. He receives £50,000, or approximately $80,000.

Flanagan is the author of five previous novels and several works of nonfiction. The Narrow Road to the Deep North, published in the U.K. by Chatto & Windus and in the United States by Knopf, tells the story of Australian prisoners of war forced by imperial Japan to construct the Thailand-Burma Death Railway during World War II. Flanagan based the novel on the experiences of his father, who died the day Flanagan finished the book.

For the first time in its forty-six-year history, Britian’s most prestigious literary prize was expanded this year to include writers of any nationality. The decision has been controversial, with the Man Booker Prize Foundation consistently taking heat from the British literary community. The award was previously limited to authors from the U.K. and the British Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland, and Zimbabwe.

Flanagan was chosen from among six short-listed finalists, including the American authors Joshua Ferris for To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Viking) and Karen Joy Fowler for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Putnam); and British authors Howard Jacobson for J (Jonathan Cape), Neel Mukherjee for The Lives of Others (Chatto & Windus), and Ali Smith for How to Be Both (Hamish Hamilton). A panel of six judges chose the winner from more than a hundred novels. 

New Zealand’s Eleanor Catton won the 2013 prize for her novel The Luminaries. At twenty-eight, Catton became the youngest writer to win the award. Flanagan is the third author from Australia—and the first from the island of Tasmania—to win the prize.

French novelist Patrick Modiano of Paris has won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature. The announcement was made today in Stockholm by Peter Englund, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy. Englund praised the 69-year-old author, whose work explores “the art of memory, with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.”

Modiano was born in a west Paris suburb in July 1945, two months after the end of the second world war. His parents—a Jewish Italian father and Belgian mother—met during the Nazi occupation of Paris. Jewish identity, the Holocaust, and loss of memory, identity, and time are recurring themes in Modiano's work. He published his debut novel, La Place de l'Etoile, in 1968; though few of his books have been translated into English, he has since gained both critical and popular acclaim throughout France. One of his most well known novels is Missing Person (Jonathan Cape, 1980), which was awarded France's Prix Goncourt in 1978. His most recent book is Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier.

American authors Phillip Roth and Thomas Pynchon were favorites for this year’s award, along with Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, and the Syrian poet Adonis.

Founded in 1901, the Nobel Prize in literature is given to a writer who, according to the will of Alfred Nobel, has “produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” The winner receives eight million Swedish kronor, or approximately $1.1 million. Modiano will receive the award at a ceremony on December 10.

Canadian short story writer Alice Munro received last year’s prize. Chinese novelist Mo Yan won in 2012, Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer won in 2011, and Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa won in 2010.

Submissions are currently open for the second-annual Christopher Doheny Award, sponsored by the New York City–based Center for Fiction and Audible, Inc. The award is given for a book-length manuscript of fiction or creative nonfiction on the topic of serious physical illness. The award includes a $10,000 prize, along with publication and promotion of the book in print and audio editions.

Works by "a writer who has personally dealt or is dealing with life-threatening illness, either his or her own or that of a close relative or friend" are eligible. Writers must have previously published in literary journals or magazines, or have had a book published by an independent or traditional publisher. Previously unpublished manuscripts of any length written in English are eligible. Both adult and young adult works will be considered.

Writers should submit a manuscript along with a bibliography of published books, articles, or stories; a paragraph-long bio and contact information; if submitting an unfinished manuscript, a book proposal for the work being submitted and two sample chapters; if submitting a finished manuscript, a synopsis of up to two pages with the full manuscript. Submissions should be sent by e-mail to doheny@centerforfiction.org or by mail to the Christopher Doheny Award, Center for Fiction, 17 E. 47th Street, New York, NY 10017. The deadline is October 30. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

A panel of three distinguished writers and two representatives of Audible, Inc. will judge.

The winner of the 2013 award was Michelle Bailat-Jones for her novel Fog Island Mountains, forthcoming in November, about a South African expatriate living in a small town in Japan who faces a terminal cancer diagnosis. For those in New York City, Bailat-Jones will appear at the Center for Fiction on November 6 to discuss her novel.

The annual is named in honor of Christopher Doheny, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was an infant and worked for Audible, Inc. for eight years. He passed away in February 2013.

Detroit’s new Write a House program has announced the winner of its inaugural writers residency, through which renovated houses in Detroit are given permanently to creative writers.

The winner is Casey Rocheteau, a poet, writer, historian, and performance artist currently living in Brooklyn, New York. Rocheteau is the author of the poetry collection Knocked Up On Yes, published by Sargent Press in 2012; her next collection, The Dozen, will be published by Sibling Rivalry Press in March 2016. She has also self-published four books, released two spoken-word albums, and has performed slam poetry and led writing and performance workshops for youths and adults throughout the United States.

“Being granted with this opportunity to take root in a city so rich with history, creativity and tenacity is truly an honor,” Rocheteau wrote on the Write a House blog. “I look forward to exploring Detroit and getting to know its literary community.” She plans to move from Brooklyn to Detroit in November.

Billy Collins, the former U.S. poet laureate and one of the judges that selected Rocheteau, said of her work, “These are witty but deeply serious poems. The poet uses straightforward language and clear syntax to address some of the more frightening aspects of racism.”

Serving as judges alongside Collins were dream hampton, Major Jackson, Sean MacDonald, Michael Stone-Richards, Tamara Warren, and Write a House cofounder Toby Barlow. Hundreds of poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers applied for the residency; Rocheteau was chosen from a shortlist of ten finalists that was announced in August 2014.

Detroit will welcome Rocheteau to the city’s literary community at a public event sponsored by the Detroit Free Press on September 19. Write a House will open a new round of applications in early 2015 for its next set of houses, which will be located in the same Banglatown/No Ham neighborhood where Rocheteau will reside.

To learn more about the Write a House program, read an article in the current issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

Photo: Casey Rocheteau, credit Thomas Sayers Ellis, 2013.

Submissions are currently open for the inaugural Payton James Freeman Essay Prize, cosponsored by the Freeman family and Drake University’s English department. The prize will be given for an essay on a theme. The winner will receive $500 and publication in the Rumpus, and will be invited to read at Drake University in Des Moines in February 2015.

Using the online submission system, submit an essay of up to 3,500 words on the subject “After the Unhappy Ending” by September 30. There is no entry fee. The students and faculty of Drake University will select the finalists; Cheryl Strayed will choose the winner. The winner and finalists will be announced in December 2014.

The Freeman family established the award to honor their son Payton James Freeman—who died at the age of five from the genetic disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy—and to raise awareness about the disease.

Judge Cheryl Strayed is the author of the popular memoir Wild (Knopf, 2012), the novel Torch (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006), and Tiny Beautiful Things (Knopf, 2012), a collection of pieces from Strayed’s advice column for the Rumpus, Dear Sugar.

Photo: Cheryl Strayed (Joni Kabana)

The longlist for the 2014 National Book Award in Fiction has been announced. The list represents a notable range of emerging and established writers, including such heavy-hitters as Richard Powers (who won the award in 2006) and Pulitzer Prize winners Marilynne Robinson and Jane Smiley, alongside debut novelist and Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle, and Molly Antopol and Phil Klay, who were both nominated for debut story collections.

The ten long-listed finalists are: Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman (Grove Press); Molly Antopol, The UnAmericans (Norton); John Darnielle, Wolf in White Van (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See (Scribner); Phil Klay, Redeployment (Penguin); Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (Knopf); Elizabeth McCracken, Thunderstruck & Other Stories (The Dial Press); Richard Powers, Orfeo (Norton); Marilynne Robinson, Lila (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); and Jane Smiley, Some Luck (Knopf).

Robinson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her 2004 novel Gilead, has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award, for her novels Home (2008) and Housekeeping (1980). Antopol was named one of the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 recipients in 2013.

The judges in for the 2014 National Book Award in Fiction are Geraldine Brooks, Sheryl Cotleur, Michael Gorra, Adam Johnson, and Lily Tuck. Publishers submitted a total of 417 titles for this year's award.

The nonfiction longlist was announced yesterday, and the poetry longlist was announced on Tuesday. The longlist in young people’s literature was released on Monday.

Shortlists in all four categories will be announced October 15, and the winners on November 19 at the National Book Foundation’s annual awards ceremony in New York City.

For bios of the finalists and judges, visit the National Book Foundation website.

Photo: Marilynne Robinson

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