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G&A: The Contest Blog

The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the most lucrative honor of its kind at one hundred thousand euros (more than one hundred forty thousand dollars), was announced this afternoon. Irish-born author Colum McCann, who currently resides in New York City, won the 2011 award for his novel Let the Great World Spin (Random House, 2009).

The "genuinely twenty-first century novel that speaks to its time but is not enslaved by it" won the National Book Award in 2009. It was selected for the IMPAC Award from among more than one hundred sixty titles nominated by one hundred sixty-six libraries around the world.

Other finalists this year were Americans Barbara Kingsolver for The Lacuna, Yiyun Li for The Vagrants, Joyce Carol Oates for Little Bird of Heaven and Irish writers Colm Tóibín for Brooklyn and  William Trevor for Love and Summer. 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.

In the video below, McCann discusses his winning novel on a recent episode of City University of New York's video program City Talk.

Virginia's Fall for the Book Festival, sponsors of three annual awards for prose, and its partner the Washington, D.C., poetry haven Busboys and Poets have announced the festival's inaugural poetry award. Yesterday Claudia Rankine, author of Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2004) and three other collections, was announced winner of the honor, which is accompanied by a five-thousand-dollar prize.

Rankine joins novelists Amy Tan, who is this year's Fairfax Prize winner, and Stephen King, who received the Mason Prize, as a 2011 Fall for the Book honoree. A fourth prize for nonfiction will be announced in the coming weeks. The authors will appear at the festival, which takes place from September 18 to 23, to accept their prizes.

In the video below, Rankine discusses the lure of unknown, but recognizable, worlds in poems, and the hallmark of bad verse.

Yesterday afternoon the PEN/Faulkner Foundation honored short story writer Edith Pearlman with its twenty-fourth annual PEN/Malamud Award. The prize, given to honor a writer's contribution to the short fiction form, includes a five-thousand-dollar honorarium and a reading at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

Pearlman is the author of more than two hundred fifty stories published in four books—most recently Binocular Vision (Lookout Books, 2011)—as well as in numerous literary magazines and anthologies such as Best American Short Stories and New Stories From the South. The author, born in 1936, released her debut collection, Vaquita and Other Stories, in 1996.

"Pearlman’s view of the world is large and compassionate, delivered through small, beautifully precise moments," wrote Roxana Robinson earlier this year in a New York Times review of Binocular Vision. "These quiet, elegant stories add something significant to the literary landscape."

Pearlman joins authors such as Edward P. Jones, John Updike, Eudora Welty, Grace Paley, Joyce Carol Oates, and Lorrie Moore in the ranks of past PEN/Malamud Award winners.

The sixteenth annual Orange Prize was announced this afternoon in London. Twenty-five-year-old Serbian American author Téa Obreht became the youngest writer to receive the thirty-thousand-pound prize, for her debut novel, The Tiger's Wife (Weidenfeld & Nicolson). (The novel was published in the United States by Random House in March.)

"Obreht's powers of observation and her understanding of the world are remarkable," says chair of judges Bettany Hughes. "By skillfully spinning a series of magical tales she has managed to bring the tragedy of chronic Balkan conflict thumping into our front rooms. The book reminds us how easily we can slip into barbarity, but also of the breadth and depth of human love."

Obreht's book won out over the favorite, Emma Donoghue's Room (Picador), which took the Youth Prize yesterday. Also on the shortlist for the prize, given annually to a woman novelist, were The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (Bloomsbury), Grace Williams Says it Loud by Emma Henderson (Sceptre), Great House by Nicole Krauss (Viking), and Annabel by Kathleen Winter (Jonathan Cape).

In the video below, Obreht discusses her book, and how she had to return to the places of her nomadic youth to create it, on PBS's NewsHour.

On the eve of the sweet sixteenth celebration of the Orange Prize, award finalists' books were reviewed by a panel of teenage writers for a special Youth Prize. Irish Canadian novelist Emma Donoghue's Room (Picador) won with the group of three young women and three young men, all age sixteen and hailing from England.

"Tickled pink to be the Orange Prize Youth Panel winner!" Donoghue remarked. "When I wrote Room I was imagining a reader anything from eleven up, so I'm really chuffed it's finding so many young readers."

The thirty-thousand-pound main prize (roughly fifty thousand dollars), given for a novel by a woman writer of any nationality, will be awarded tomorrow in London. The other shortlisted titles are The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (Bloomsbury), Grace Williams Says it Loud by Emma Henderson (Sceptre), Great House by Nicole Krauss (Viking), The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht (Weidenfeld & Nicolson), and Annabel by Kathleen Winter (Jonathan Cape).

The video below is the American book trailer for Room, which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Canadian Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

Last night in Brooklyn the Moby Awards, sponsored by indie press Melville House, celebrated the best, worst, and weirdest of last year's book trailers. A panel of critics, editors, and other lit types representing the Huffington Post, McNally Jackson Books, the Millions, GoodReads, and more selected the following to receive the honorary golden sperm whale.

Lifetime Achievement Award
Ron Charles for his Totally Hip Video Book Review Series for the Washington Post

Grand Jury/We’re Giving You This Award Because Otherwise You’d Win Too Many Other Awards
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

Book Trailer as Stand Alone Art Object
How Did You Get This Number? by Sloane Crosley

Best Small House
Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer

Best Big House
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

Worst Performance by an Author
Jonathan Franzen in his Freedom trailer

Most Celebtastic Performance
James Franco in the trailer for Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story 

Worst Small / No House
Pirates: The Midnight Passage by James R. Hannibal

Worst Big House
Savages by Don Winslow

What Are We Doing To Our Children?
It’s A Book by Lane Smith

General Technical Excellence and Courageous Pursuit of Gloriousness
Electric Literature, including the below short "Can a Book Save Your Life?"

Most Monkey Sex
Bonobo Handshake by Vanessa Woods

Worst Soundtrack
Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

Most Angelic Angel Falling to Earth
Teen tome Torment by Lauren Kate

Most Conflicted (we published the book but the trailer is sooo good!)
The Beaufort Diaries by T Cooper


 

Canada's Griffin Poetry Prize, which awards an international and a Canadian poet sixty-five thousand dollars Canadian (roughly sixty-six thousand American dollars) each, was announced last night in Toronto. The city's poet laureate, Dionne Brand, took the national prize for her long poem Ossuaries (McClelland & Stewart), and Tacoma native Gjertrud Schnackenberg won the international award for Heavenly Questions (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

The judges, Tim Lilburn of Canada, Colm Toíbín of Ireland, and Chase Twichell of the United States, selected the winners from four hundred fifty collections representing thirty-seven countries. Twenty translations were among the entries, which are required to be written in English.

"Reading this book is like reading the ocean," said the judges of Schnackenberg's winning collection, comprised of six long poems, "its swells and furrows, its secrets fleetingly revealed and then blown away in gusts of foam and spray or folded back into nothing but water. Heavenly Questions demands that we come face to face with matters of mortal importance."

Of Brand's sprawling text, the judges said, "The most remarkable part of her achievement is that in fulfilling the novelistic narrative ambition of her work, she has not sacrificed the tight lyrical coil of the poetic line. The story vaults us ahead with its emerging and receding characters, its passions and dramas, which include a violent bank robbery and tense escape, while each line holds us and demands we admire its complex beauties."

The finalists for this year's prize, each of whom received ten thousand dollars Canadian, are Canadian poets Suzanne Buffam for The Irrationalist (House of Anansi Press) and John Steffler for Lookout (McClelland & Stewart); Seamus Heaney for Human Chain (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Khaled Mattawa for his translation from the Arabic of Adonis's Selected Poems (Yale University Press), and Philip Mosley for his translation from the French of François Jacqmin's The Book of Snow (Arc Publications).

In the video below, two students interpret international winner Schnackenberg's poem "Darwin in 1881," from Supernatural Love (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000). Listen to a reading of the poem here.

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