Jean Valentine, Junot Díaz Among Finalists for Los Angeles Times Book Prizes

by Staff

The Los Angeles Times announced last week the finalists for the 2007 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. The annual awards are given for books published in the United States during the award year in the categories of poetry, fiction, first fiction, current interest (which includes creative nonfiction), young adult fiction, history, mystery/thriller, science and technology, and biography. The winners, each of whom will receive $1,000, will be announced on April 25 at a ceremony at Royce Hall on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles.

The finalists in poetry are Marvin Bell for Mars Being Red (Copper Canyon Press), Elaine Equi for Ripple Effect: New and Selected Poems (Coffee House Press), Albert Goldbarth for The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems, 1972-2007 (Graywolf Press), Stanley Plumly for Old Heart: Poems (Norton), and Jean Valentine for Little Boat (Wesleyan University Press).

The finalists in fiction are Junot Díaz for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead Books), Andrew O’Hagan for Be Near Me (Harcourt), Stewart O'Nan for Last Night at the Lobster (Viking), Per Petterson for Out Stealing Horses: A Novel (Graywolf Press), and Marianne Wiggins for The Shadow Catcher: A Novel (Simon & Schuster).

The finalists for the Art Seidenbaum award in first fiction are Antonia Arslan for Skylark Farm, translated by Geoffrey Brock (Knopf); Rebecca Curtis for Twenty Grand: And Other Tales of Love and Money (Harper Perennial); Pamela Erens for The Understory (Ironweed Press); Ellen Litman for The Last Chicken in America: A Novel in Stories (Norton); and Dinaw Mengestu for The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (Riverhead Books).

The finalists in current interest are Ishmael Beah for A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (Sarah Crichton Books), Tom Bissell for The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam (Pantheon), Ronald Brownstein for The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America (The Penguin Press), Naomi Klein for The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Metropolitan Books), and Elizabeth D. Samet for Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

In other awards news, Barnes & Noble announced last Wednesday the winners of the 2008 Discover Great New Writers Awards during a ceremony at the bookseller's Lincoln Triangle store in New York City. Joshua Ferris won in fiction for Then We Came to the End (Little, Brown), and Kate Braestrup won in nonfiction for Here If You Need Me: A True Story (Little, Brown). Each received $10,000 and promotion of their winning titles by Barnes & Noble.

The runners-up in fiction were Matthew Eck, who received the $5,000 second-place prize for The Farther Shore (Milkweed Editions) and Vendela Vida, who won the $2,500 third prize for Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name (Ecco). In nonfiction, Elizabeth D. Samet won the second place award for Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and Yaroslav Trofimov took third place for The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam's Holiest Shrine and the Birth of Al Qaeda (Doubleday).

The annual awards are given to honor works by "dynamic new literary writers."