Archive October 2018

Anna Burns Wins 2018 Booker Prize

Tonight at a ceremony in London, Anna Burns was announced the winner of the 2018 Booker Prize for her third novel, Milkman (Faber & Faber). The annual £50,000 (approximately $66,000) award is given for a novel published in the previous year in the United Kingdom.

“None of us has ever read anything like this before,” said Kwame Anthony Appiah, the chair of judges. “Anna Burns’s utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose. It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humor.” Along with Appiah, the 2018 judges were Val McDermid, Leo Robson, Jacqueline Rose, and Leanne Shapton.

Burns, the author of three novels, is the first Northern Irish writer to win the prize. Her novel Milkman is a coming-of-age story about a young girl’s affair with an older married man during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. Graywolf Press will publish the novel in the United States on December 11.

The finalists were Esi Edugyan for Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail), Daisy Johnson for Everything Under (Jonathan Cape), Rachel Kushner for The Mars Room (Jonathan Cape), Richard Powers for The Overstory (William Heinemann), and Robin Robertson for The Long Take (Picador). The five finalists and Burns will each receive £2,500 ($3,300).

The Man Booker Prize is one of the most prestigious awards given for a book of fiction written in English. George Saunders won the prize last year for his novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, and Paul Beatty won in 2016 for his novel The Sellout. This year the prize, which is sponsored by the Man Group, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary by hosting a Golden Man Booker Prize, awarded to the best-ever Man Booker Prize–winner. Michael Ondaatje won for his novel The English Patient, which won the Booker Prize in 1992.

Read more on the Man Booker Prize website.

Photo credit: Ray Tang

National Book Award Finalists Announced

This morning the National Book Foundation announced the finalists for the 2018 National Book Awards. The annual awards are given for the best books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, translated literature, and young people’s literature published during the previous year. The finalists will each receive $1,000; the winners, who will be announced on November 14, will each receive $10,000.

The finalists in poetry:
Rae Armantrout for Wobble (Wesleyan University Press)
Terrance Hayes for American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (Penguin Books)
Diana Khoi Nguyen for Ghost Of (Omnidawn Publishing)
Justin Phillip Reed for Indecency (Coffee House Press)
Jenny Xie for Eye Level (Graywolf Press)

The finalists in fiction:
Jamel Brinkley for A Lucky Man (Graywolf Press)
Lauren Groff for Florida (Riverhead Books)
Brandon Hobson for Where the Dead Sit Talking (Soho Press)
Rebecca Makkai for The Great Believers (Viking Books)
Sigrid Nunez for The Friend (Riverhead Books)

The finalists in nonfiction:
Colin G. CallowayThe Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation (Oxford University Press)
Victoria Johnson for American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic (Liveright)
Sarah Smarsh for Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth (Scribner)
Jeffrey C. Stewart for The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke (Oxford University Press)
Adam Winkler for We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights (Liveright)

The finalists in translated literature:
Négar Djavadi for Disoriental translated by Tina Kover (Europa Editions)
Hanne Ørstavik for Love translated by Martin Aitken (Archipelago Books)
Domenico Starnone for Trick translated by Jhumpa Lahiri (Europa Editions)
Yoko Tawada for The Emissary translated by Margaret Mitsutani (New Directions Publishing)
Olga Tokarczuk for Flights translated by Jennifer Croft (Riverhead Books)

The finalists in young people’s literature:
Elizabeth Acevedo for The Poet X (HarperTeen)
T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin for The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge (Candlewick Press)
Leslie Connor for The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle (Katherine Tegen Books)
Christopher Paul Curtis for The Journey of Little Charlie (Scholastic Press)
Jarrett J. Krosoczka for Hey, Kiddo (Graphix)

Fiction finalist Brinkley was featured in the 2018 Poets & Writers First Fiction feature, and poetry finalist Hayes and fiction finalist Groff were both featured in Episode 20 of Ampersand: The Poets & Writers Podcast. Translation finalist Lahiri was featured in Episode 6 of Ampersand, and poetry finalist Xie and fiction finalist Makkai have both contributed to the Writers Recommend series.

Established in 1950, the National Book Awards are among the largest literary prizes given in the United States. The 2017 winners were Frank Bidart in poetry, Jesmyn Ward in fiction, Masha Gessen in nonfiction, and Robin Benway in young people’s literature.

Diaz, Keene, and Link win MacArthur “Genius” Grants

Poet Natalie Diaz, fiction and nonfiction writer John Keene, and fiction writer Kelly Link have received 2018 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships. They will each receive $625,000 over five years. The annual grants are given to “encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.”

This morning the MacArthur Foundation announced the full class of twenty-five fellows, which includes artists, musicians, scientists, scholars, social advocates, and more. “Working in diverse fields, from the arts and sciences to public health and civil liberties, these twenty-five MacArthur Fellows are solving long-standing scientific and mathematical problems, pushing art forms into new and emerging territories, and addressing the urgent needs of under-resourced communities,” says Cecilia Conrad, the managing director of the fellowship program. “Their exceptional creativity inspires hope in us all.”

Poet Natalie Diaz teaches at Arizona State University and published the poetry collection When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon, 2012). “Diaz is a powerful new poetic voice, and she is broadening the venues for and reach of Indigenous perspectives through her teaching, cross-disciplinary collaborations, and language preservation efforts,” the MacArthur Foundation says in the award announcement.

Writer John Keene is the author of several books, including the story collection Counternarratives (New Directions, 2015) and the semi-autobiographical novel Annotations (New Directions, 1995). “Through innovations in language and form, he imbues with multifaceted subjectivities those who have been denied nuanced histories within the story of the Americas—primarily people of color and queer people—and exposes the social structures that confine, enslave, or destroy them,” writes the MacArthur Foundation.

Fiction writer Kelly Link “pushes the boundaries of literary fiction in works that combine the surreal and fantastical with the concerns and emotional realism of contemporary life.” Link has published four story collections, most recently Get in Trouble (Random House, 2015). Listen to Link read an excerpt from that collection here.

Viet Thanh Nguyen and Jesmyn Ward received MacArthur grants last year, and Claudia Rankine, Maggie Nelson, and Gene Luen Yang were among the writers who won grants in 2016. Fellows are recommended by external nominations, and then chosen by an anonymous selection committee; there is no application process. Between twenty and thirty fellows are selected each year.

For a complete list of this year’s recipients and more details about the fellowships, visit the MacArthur Foundation website.

 

Photos: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation