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G&A: The Contest Blog

Eleanor Catton was awarded the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday for The Luminaries, an epic novel set in nineteenth-century New Zealand. Catton, twenty-eight, is the youngest person to ever receive the prize.

Born in Canada and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, Catton began writing the book, her second novel, at age twenty-five. The previous youngest recipient of the award, Ben Okri, won the prize in 1991 at age thirty-two. At 848 pages, The Luminaries (published by Granta in Britain and Little, Brown in the U.S.) is also the longest novel to win the award. Catton is only the second person from New Zealand to win.

Eleanor CattonThe prize was announced at a ceremony in London’s Guildhall. Chair of judges Robert Macfarlane called the book a “dazzling work, luminous, vast” with an “extraordinarily gripping” narrative. “The Luminaries is a novel you pan, as if for gold, and the returns are huge,” Macfarlane said. “Maturity is evident in every sentence, in the rhythms and balances. It is a novel of astonishing control.”
 
Catton beat out five other finalists for the prize: We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo; Harvest by Jim Crace; A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki; The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri; and The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin. According British betting site Ladbrokes, Crace was the favorite to win. Catton will receive £50,000, or about $80,000.

It’s been a few good years for historical fiction, Hilary Mantel having won the prize both in 2009 and 2012 for Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, respectively, the first two books in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy.

Britain’s most prestigious literary prize, the Booker has been awarded annually for forty-five years to a novelist from the United Kingdom, Ireland, or the British Commonwealth. Last month, however, the Booker Prize Foundation announced that, beginning in 2014, the prize would be open to all novels written in English and published in the United Kingdom, regardless of the author’s nationality.

In total, 151 books were nominated for this year’s prize. The winner is selected by the judging panel on the day of the ceremony.

Canadian short story writer Alice Munro has won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. Munro, eighty-two, is the first Canadian writer and only the thirteenth woman to win the award.

Peter Englund, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, made the announcement today in Stockholm, calling Munro a "master of the contemporary short story." Munro, who lives in Clinton, Ontario, and whose work often deals with small-town life and the complicated relationships between women and men, announced earlier this year that she may be retiring. Her fourteenth story collection, Dear Life, was published in 2012 by Knopf.

One of the most prestigious prizes in the world, the Nobel Prize is given to a writer for a body of work, rather than a single book. The winner receives eight million Swedish kronor, or approximately $1.2 million.

Recent winners of the prize include Chinese writer Mo Yan, in 2012; Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, in 2011; Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, in 2010; and the Romanian-born German novelist and essayist Herta Müller, in 2009.

Starting next year, the London–based Man Booker Prize—whose 2013 winner will be announced next week—will be expanded to include all books written in English.

The prize has been given since 1969 for books of fiction written by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the British Commonwealth, or the Republic of Ireland. The expansion will make all books written and published in English, by authors from any country, eligible for nomination.

While the announcement, made last week on the Man Booker website by Foundation Chair Jonathan Taylor, has drawn a flurry of mixed reviews, the Foundation insists that by expanding the prize it will be “embracing the freedom of English in its versatility, in its vigour, in its vitality and in its glory wherever it may be. We are abandoning the constraints of geography and national boundaries.”

Eligible books must still be published in the United Kingdom, and UK publishers must submit titles for consideration. A few other submission guidelines have also changed.
 
The 2013 shortlist, which was announced in September, was chosen from a longlist released in July. The winner, who will be announced on October 15, will receive 50,000 British pounds, or approximately $75,000.

The Man Booker Foundation has also partnered with Apple to host a series of free podcasts featuring readings and interviews with the shortlisted authors.

The Rona Jaffe Foundation has announced the winners of its nineteenth annual Writers’ Awards, given to emerging women writers. The program offers grants of $30,000 each to writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

The 2013 winners are fiction and nonfiction writer Tiffany Briere of San Diego, California; fiction writer Ashlee Crews of Durham, North Carolina; nonfiction writer Kristin Dombek of Brooklyn, New York; poet Margaree Little of Tuscon, Arizona; fiction writer Kirstin Valdez Quade of Palo Alto, California; and nonfiction writer Jill Sisson Quinn of Scandinavia, Wisconsin. Visit the website for the winners’ complete bios.

The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards program was established by author Rona Jaffe in 1995 “in recognition of the special contributions women writers make to our culture and society.” Since the program began, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.5 million to women writers in the early stages of their careers. Past recipients have included Rachel Aviv, Eula Biss, Lan Samantha Chang, Rivka Galchen, ZZ Packer, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, and Tracy K. Smith. In addition to providing time to write, the program also offers assistance for things like research, travel, and child care. Nominations for the annual awards are solicited by the Foundation from writers, editors, critics, and other literary professionals.

Rona Jaffe (1931–2005) was the author of sixteen books, including Class Reunion, Family Secrets, The Road Taken, and The Room-Mating Season. Her 1958 bestselling debut novel, The Best of Everything, was reissued by Penguin in 2005.

Listen to a podcast of the 2013 winners reading from their work during a recent awards ceremony at New York University.

Georgetown Review, the literary magazine of the Georgetown, Kentucky–based Georgetown College, is currently accepting submissions to its annual magazine contest. A prize of $1,000 and publication is given for a poem, a short story, or an essay. The deadline is October 15. 

Submit a poem, a short story, or an essay of any length with a $10 entry fee ($5 for each additional entry) online via Submittable, or by mail to Georgetown Review, 400 East College Street, Box 227, Georgetown, KY 40324.

The magazine’s editors will judge. Winners will be announced on the Georgetown Review website in February 2014. To have work returned, or to receive the winner announcement by mail, include a self-addressed stamped envelope with paper submissions. Colleagues, friends, and students of the editors are ineligible. All entries are considered for publication.

Georgetown Review also sponsors an annual short story collection contest for a book of stories or novellas; and a poetry manuscript contest, which will be judged this year by Ada Limón. General submissions are read between September 1 and December 31.

Visit the website to read excerpts of work published in the current issue, including Lisa Lenzo’s Strays, which won the 2013 contest.

The MacArthur Foundation announced today that authors Karen Russell and Donald Antrim are among the 2013 MacArthur Fellows. The five-year, no-strings-attached "genius" fellowships, which were increased this year to $625,000 each, are given to individuals working in a variety of disciplines to pursue future work. 

Karen Russell is the author of three books of fiction, including her debut story collection St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (2006); the novel Swamplandia (2011), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and, most recently, the story collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove (2013), all published by Knopf. She was named one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 in 2009.

Donald Antrim is the author of the novels Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World (Viking, 1993), The Hundred Brothers (Crown, 1997), and The Verificationist (Knopf, 2000), and the memoir The Afterlife (2007). He is an associate professor of writing at Columbia University in New York City.

In the following videos from the MacArthur Foundation, Russell and Antrim discuss the inspiration for their work, and what receiving the fellowships will mean for their writing and their lives.




After a week of longlist announcements in the categories of poetry, nonfiction, and young people’s literature, the National Book Foundation wrapped up its announcements late last week with the much-anticipated longlist for the foundation’s fiction prize.

The finalists are Tom Drury, Pacific (Grove Press), Elizabeth Graver, The End of the Point (Harper), Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers (Scribner), Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland (Knopf), Anthony Marra, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth), James McBride, The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead Books), Alice McDermott, Someone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (The Penguin Press), George Saunders, Tenth of December (Random House), and Joan Silber, Fools (Norton).

As the foundation notes, the list includes “four [previous] National Book Award winners and finalists, a Pulitzer Prize winner and finalist, recipients of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship and a Guggenheim fellowship, and a debut novelist.” Among a list of favorites like Pynchon and Saunders, Anthony Marra’s debut, published this past May, has received much praise, and Lahiri has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Charles Baxter, Gish Jen, Charles McGrath, Rick Simonson, René Steinke judged.

Frank Bidart’s Metaphysical Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Lucie Brock-Broido’s Stay, Illusion (Knopf), and Brenda Hillman’s Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (Wesleyan University Press) topped a poetry longlist marked by debut poets. The lists in each category, including nonfiction and young people’s literature, were announced on the Daily Beast.

The foundation also recently named its annual 5 Under 35, and announced that E. L. Doctorow will receive the 2013 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and Maya Angelou will receive the 2013 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.

The National Book Award shortlists in each category will be announced October 16, and the winners will be named at the foundation's annual awards ceremony in New York City on November 20.

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