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G&A: The Contest Blog

Three Percent, the University of Rochester's international literature program, announced late last week the winners of the five-thousand-dollar Best Translated Book Awards in poetry and fiction. Brian Henry's translation of Slovenian poet Aleš Šteger's collection The Book of Things (BOA Editions) won in poetry and Thomas Teal was honored in fiction for his translation from the Swedish of late Finnish author Tove Jansson's novel The True Deceiver (New York Review Books).

Thirty-seven-year-old Šteger is the author of three other volumes of poetry, but The Book of Things is his first to be translated into English. Poetry judge Kevin Prufer said of Šteger, "His objects reflect our own strange complexities—our eagerness to consume, our rationalizations and kindness. Our many cruelties and our grandiosities." Prufer was joined on the jury by Brandon Holmquest, Jennifer Kronovet, Erica Mena, and Idra Novey.

Jansson, perhaps best known for her Moomins, a cast of fantastical characters she created over a half-century through comic strips and children's books, began writing for adults in later life. Among her novels translated into English are The Summer Book and Fair Play, published by New York Review Books. Jansson died in 2001.

The fiction panel, comprised of Monica Carter, Scott Esposito, Susan Harris, Annie Janusch, Matthew Jakubowski, Brandon Kennedy, Bill Marx, Michael Orthofer, and Jeff Waxman said of Jansson's winning book, "Subtle, engaging and disquieting, The True Deceiver is a masterful study in opposition and confrontation."

The awards were announced at New York City's Bowery Poetry Club in conjunction with the PEN World Voices Festival, which closed last Sunday.

To get a sense of Jansson's sources of inspiration, check out the video below, which offers a tour of the author's longtime summer home on an idyllic shoreline near Helsinki.

The American Fiction Prize sponsored by New Rivers Press has pushed its deadline to June 1. Fiction writers have an additional month to submit a story of up to 7,500 words to be considered for the one-thousand-dollar prize and inclusion in an anthology, American Fiction: The Best Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers, to be released in 2012 by the press.

This year's judge is Croatian-born fiction writer and essayist Josip Novakovich, whose most recent book is the story-essay hybrid Three Deaths, published last year by Montreal press Snare Books. His story collections include Yolk and Salvation and Other Disasters, both published in the United States by Graywolf Press.

For complete American Fiction Prize guidelines, visit the New Rivers Press Web site.

New Hampshire outfit Bauhan Publishing has launched a first book prize in honor of the late May Sarton. The winning poetry collection will be published in 2012 in celebration of Sarton's one hundredth birthday, and will appear in conjunction with a reissue of her collection As Does New Hampshire, originally published in by Bauhan 1967.

State poet laureate W. E. Butts, author of Sunday Evening at the Stardust Café (First World Library) and Movies in a Small Town (Mellen Poetry Press), will judge. The winner will receive one thousand dollars as well as one hundred copies of the published book.

Book manuscripts, which should be accompanied by a twenty-five-dollar entry fee, are due on June 30. Full guidelines are available on the Bauhan Web site.

A feminist, advocate for social justice, and contemporary of writers such as Virginia Woolf and H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), Sarton authored more than fifty books of poetry, fiction, and memoir. In the video below, Sarton reads her poem "My Sisters, O My Sisters."

The Pulitzer Prizes in letters have been announced, with two women writers snagging literary honors. U.S. poet laureate Kay Ryan, praised for her "witty, rebellious and yet tender" verse, won for her collection The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (Grove Press). The winner in fiction, Jennifer Egan was honored for the "big-hearted curiosity" of her novel A Visit From the Goon Squad (Knopf), which also recently won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The finalists in poetry are Maurice Manning for The Common Man (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and Jean Valentine for Break the Glass (Copper Canyon Press). Jonathan Dee and Chang-rae Lee received citations in fiction, for The Privileges (Random House) and The Surrendered (Riverhead Books), respectively.

Also of note, writer and doctor Siddhartha Mukherjee won the Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction for his "biography" of cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies (Scribner), "an attempt to enter the mind of this immortal illness, to understand its personality, to demystify its behavior."

In the video below, Egan discusses her novel on PBS NewsHour.

Lionel Shriver, who some posit is among the greatest living American writers, finds her Orange Prize–winning novel recognized for another honor this spring. The film adaptation of We Need to Talk About Kevin, starring Tilda Swinton—an actress with more than a few literary films under her belt—is up for the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival. (Meanwhile, the Independent reports, Shriver has not seen the film and will not go to Cannes, though she was not opposed to the adaptation of her book.)

The novel, Shriver's seventh, took the 2005 Orange Prize, given since 1996 for a novel by a woman of any nationality. We Need to Talk About Kevin, which was rejected by dozens of publishers before finding break-out success, was also voted the Orange Prize "winner of winners" in a public vote last summer. (Shriver dismissed the subsequent honor, however, telling the Independent, "I'm critical of the Orange people on this front. The more prizes you give, the more meaningless they become.")

Whether the story of Kevin will be recognized with another honor will be revealed on the final day of Cannes, May 22.

The two-year-old Sunday Times Short Story Award, given by the U.K. weekend newspaper for a single story, goes this year to an American author. Anthony Doerr, who won the Story Prize in March for his second collection Memory Wall, took the thirty-thousand-pound prize (nearly fifty thousand dollars) for "The Deep," set in 1920s Detroit.

Doerr's story, set in 1920s Detroit, centers on a boy with a hole in his heart who lives among salt miners in a world that "continually drains itself of young men." It originally appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story's Fall 2010 issue.

Also honored are stories by Will Cohu ("East Coast—West Coast"), Roshi Fernando ("The Fluorescent Jacket"), Yiyun Li  ("The Science of Flight"), Hilary Mantel ("Comma"), and Gerard Woodward ("The Family Whistle"). Each was given five hundred pounds (about eight hundred dollars).

Last year's inaugural Sunday Times Short Story Award winner was seventy-eight-year-old New Zealand author C. K. Stead, for his story "Last Season's Man." In order to be eligible, authors, regardless of nationality, must have had work previously published in the United Kingdom.

In the video below, actor Damian Lewis reads an excerpt from Doerr's winning piece.

Among the ten finalists for the one-hundred-thousand-dollar International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award are three American writers, the same number that hail from the librarian-driven award's home country. Barbara Kingsolver is shortlisted for her novel The Lacuna, Yiyun Li for The Vagrants, and Joyce Carol Oates for Little Bird of Heaven, all published in 2009.

Representing Ireland (with a touch of New York City) are the novels Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín, and Love and Summer by William Trevor. Also shortlisted are Michael Crummey of Canada for Galore and Australian writers David Malouf for Ransom, Craig Silvey for Jasper Jones, and Evie Wyld for After the Fire, a Still, Small Voice.

The titles were selected from a pool of 162 books nominated by librarians around the world, and for the first time since 2000, no translations appear on the shortlist (the Guardian's books blog probes the issue). The winner, selected by an international panel of writers, will be announced on June 15.

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