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  • Joel Cunningham 6:30 pm on 2019/10/15 Permalink
    Tags: awards, bernardine evaristo, girl woman other, historic, , ,   

    Booker Award Shocker: Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo Share the U.K.’s Top Fiction Award 


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    Like the National Book Award, the U.K.’s Man Booker Prize is one of the world’s leading literary honors. Since 1969, the Booker Prize for Fiction has been awarded to the year’s best novel written in English and published in the U.K. or Ireland.

    Except for this year, when the judges for the literary award defied the rules to award the top prize to two novels—Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments and Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other.

    The announcement “shocked the literary world,” per The Guardian, as the Booker rules have outright prohibited joint winners since they were amended 1992, after Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient and Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger both won the award.

    According to 2019 jury chair Peter Florence, the judges simply couldn’t choose between Atwood’s blockbuster dystopian sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale and Evaristo’s vibrant, intricate story of the intersecting lives of a dozen Black British women.

    “We were told quite firmly that the rules state you can only have one winner,” Florence said. But when the judges—who have spent the last year reading over 150 novels put forward for the prize—still couldn’t reach a decision after multiple rounds of deliberation, the “consensus was to flout the rules and divide this year’s prize to celebrate two winners.”

    The choice has been both celebrated—on stage accepting the award, Atwood (who also won the Booker for 2000’s The Blind Assassin) said she was pleased to share the honor with her co-winner—and criticized by those who would prefer to see a single novel honored. But it’s also easy to see things from the judges’ perspective, for who could choose between two so urgent and deeply felt works, both of them exploring different facets of women’s lives?

    Both womanhood and Blackness are at the center of Girl, Woman, Other, which the author—the first Black British woman to win the prize—has said she wrote because she felt the experiences of women like her are rarely depicted in fiction. “We black British women know that if we don’t write ourselves into literature, no one else will,” she said. The vibrant, moving novel weaves together the stories of twelve central characters, mainly Black British women whose identities, backgrounds, and experiences are vastly different, even as their lives intersect: an acclaimed socialist lesbian playwright; her friend, a burned out teacher; a former student of the teacher who has become an ambitious investment banker; an elderly farmer, and more. Sometimes friends, sometimes lovers, sometimes simply passing acquaintances, these disparate characters all wrestle with thorny, often universal questions—how to live in a patriarchal society, who best to turn to for guidance and advice, and achieving success versus “selling out.” Viewed as a unified tapestry, the lives of these women reveal a fascinating, dynamic, ever-changing social landscape of Britain across the last century that is not often represented in literary works. Written at times in a poetical free-flow that dispenses with punctuation and capitalization, Girl, Woman, Other is a story about what connects us, and what it means to be true to your identity.

    Even placed next to that worthy winner, perhaps the judges simply felt that Atwood’s novel could not be relegated to the shortlist in 2019, arriving as it has in the wake of the rise of the #MeToo movement and a tense political atmosphere in the Western world that has seen woman dressing in the traditional crimson garb of her grim future’s Handmaids—fertile women treated like broodmares for the wealthy elites—as a sign of protest. The Testaments, which is set 15 years after the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, employs three female narrators from Gilead—the totalitarian society formerly known as the USA—to continue a riveting story of subjugation and rebellion that moves with the speed of a thriller. While two younger characters serves as our eyes into the growing resistance movement against Gilead’s ruling class, the novel’s most fascinating character may be Lydia, one of the “aunts” working within the regime to bring young handmaids, wives, and girls to heel. Aunts are the only women in Gilead allowed to read or write, and Atwood’s intimate portrayal of Lydia—who cut a monstrous figure in The Handmaid’s Tale—provides new insights into a fascinating character who can tell us something about the ways people in the real world sometimes compromise their humanity in favor of power and security.

    Regardless of the reasons for the joint decision, readers have come out winners: the additional attention brought about by both the award and the controversy is likely to put copies of The Testaments and Girl, Woman, Other into many more hands.

    The Testaments is available now. Girl, Woman, Other will be published in the U.S. on December, and is available for preorder.

    The post Booker Award Shocker: Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo Share the U.K.’s Top Fiction Award appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Joel Cunningham & Molly Schoemann-McCann 8:00 pm on 2019/10/10 Permalink
    Tags: awards, laurels, , nobel prize 2018, nobel prize 2019, olga tokarczuk, peter handke   

    Notable Works from Peter Handke and Olga Tokarczuk, Newly Named Winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature 


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    Last year, the literary world lamented when the Swedish Academy announced that it would not award the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature due to a scandal involving the husband of one of its members. Today, the Swedes made up for the omission with a 1-2 punch, announcing the retroactive winner of the 2018 award—Polish author Olga Tokarczuk—and the 2019 recipient, controversial Austrian novelist and playwright Peter Handke.

    Every year, it seems, the run-up to the announcement of the next Nobel Laureate is marked by speculation that the winner will be a commercial choice—Haruki Murakami is often the odds-on favorite—but more often than new, the Academy sees fits to honor writers whose literary worth isn’t necessarily match by their mainstream success. These newly announced winners are a bit of both—though neither is as widely read in America as Murakami or recent winners like Alice Munore, Kazuo Ishiguro, or, um, Bob Dylan, neither are they obscure; Tokarczuk is considered one of the most commercially successful literary writers of her generation and recently earned international acclaim for her 2018 Man Booker Prize-winning novel Flights (notably, she is one of only 14 women to earn the honor since 1901), while Peter Handke’s long career includes dozens of acclaimed plays and novels as well as the screenplays several well-regarded films from director Wim Wenders, including Wings of Desire.

    To help you familiarize yourself with the work of our two new Nobel Laureates, we’ve highlighted a small selection of their work below.

    Olga Tokarczuk

    Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
    Janina is a retired schoolteacher living in a remote Polish village who likes to pass the time studying horoscopes, translating William Blake’s poetry, and looking after the usually empty summer homes of part-time residents. When one of her neighbors, whom she has nicknamed Big Foot, is found dead, followed by an increasing number of other locals, Janina injects herself into the investigation, determined to discover the culprit. While Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is in essence a literary mystery, its macabre humor, quirky characters, and spot-on, breathtaking observations about humanity push it beyond any one genre, making it it as unclassifiable as it is utterly unforgettable.

    Flights
    This disarming collection of essays and vignettes features tales of wanderers, vacationers, explorers. Each story is distinct, yet certain themes are interwoven throughout the book: meditations on the nature of travel, on the limits of the human body, on what it means to be in motion. The stories jump back and forth in time and crisscross the globe; various characters find themselves in variously strange situations. A young man’s wife and child mysteriously vanish while they are on vacation together, and then just as mysteriously reappear; a woman returns to Poland to assist with the suicide of a dying friend. A profound, perplexing and then suddenly illuminating novel filled with shining moments.

    Primeval and Other Times
    One of Tokarczuk’s earlier works, Primeval and Other Times is a fascinating, dynamic story chronicling the lives of the oft-unlucky inhabitants of Primeval, a mythical Polish village, whose political history loosely mirrors that of 20th century Poland. There’s an examination of the push-pull of modernity vs. the natural world and the periodic brutality suffered—and accepted—as a part of ordinary village life. Written in an almost allegorical style with hints of magical realism, this novel has a quiet, almost hypnotic power.

    Peter Handke

    The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick
    The first of Peter Handke’s novels to be translated into English, this 1970 novel (later adapted into a film by frequent Handke collaborator Wim Wenders) chronicles the upsetting existence of a disgraced football goalkeeper-turned-construction worker who one night, after mistakenly believing he has been fired from his unsatisfying job, spends a night with a woman he meets at the cinema, then abruptly kills her. The rest of the book follows his slow decline as he wanders aimlessly around a dull Austrian town. Playing out like a fractured detective story internalized, the novel depicts the way the goalie’s thoughts grow distracted and disordered in prose that becomes increasingly diffuse, ending on a note of profound ambiguity. The dreamlike narrative seems to suggest that our understanding of the goalie’s life is distorted by the limitations of language itself.

    Don Juan: His Own Version
    A much more recent selection from Handke’s body of work, this 2004 novel offers the author’s own sly take on the life of that most legendary of “Latin lovers.” Ostensibly Don Juan’s own account of his lurid life story, the narrative is delivered to us through the eyes of a hapless innkeeper who the lothario deems worthy of hearing his scandalous misdeeds. Each day, Don Juan treats the innkeeper to an account of what he did exactly one week prior—stories invariably tilted toward the erotic. But the novel isn’t really about sex—this Don Juan is less a conqueror than a victim of ardor, and the pleasure comes in the vividness and humanity of the narrator’s account of his larger-than-life exploits.

    Wings of Desire, directed by Wim Wenders, written by Wenders and Peter Handke
    Wings of Desire was German director Wim Wenders’ follow-up to his internationally acclaimed Paris, Texas; co-written by Handke, it is both strikingly uncommercial and deeply universal. It is set in Cold War era Berlin, a city still divided by animosity and the Berlin Wall (the German title translates to The Sky Over Berlin), but that infamous structure if of little import to the host of angels who watch over the city—they frequently pass right through it. These angelic beings aren’t guardians in the traditional Christian sense (they only occasionally have wings, preferring long trench coats); they are more like observers, wandering unseen through the streets, listening to the worried thoughts of passersby and occasionally stopping to place a comforting hand on a particularly troubled shoulder. One angel, Damiel (played by Bruno Ganz), finds himself drawn more and more to his human charges; their chaotic lives fascinate his ordered mind to the point that he eventually decides to fall from grace and become one of them—if only to feel closer to Marion (Solveig Dommartin), an acrobat in a run down circus, who has drawn his eye. We watch Damiel experience life, discovering what it means to be cold, or hungry, or tired; where the Hollywood remake—the Nicholas Cage/Meg Ryan weeper City of Angels—was all about love, Wenders and Handke seem much more interested in the human condition, and the resulting film is deeper for it: transcendent. 

    What do you think of this year’s Nobel Laureates?

    The post Notable Works from Peter Handke and Olga Tokarczuk, Newly Named Winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 3:00 pm on 2019/10/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , awards   

    Announcing the 2019 National Book Awards Finalists 


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    In late September, the longlists for the 2019 National Book Awards were announced, with the selection of finalists in each of five categories—Young People’s LiteratureTranslated LiteraturePoetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction. This morning, we present the twenty-five Finalists across these categories. The Winners will be announced on Wednesday, November 20th. 

    Finalists for Fiction:

    Trust Exercise, by Susan Choi
    An Indie Next pick named to 11 best book lists in 2018, Trust Exercise is set in the 1980s at a highly competitive suburban performing arts high school, Trust Exercise will incite heated discussions about fiction and truth, friendships and loyalties, and will leave readers with wiser understandings of the true capacities of adolescents and the powers and responsibilities of adults.

    Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James
    Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard. As Tracker follows the boy’s scent—from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers—he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying? Listen to Marlon James discuss the novel on the B&N Podcast.

    Sabrina & Corina: Stories, by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
    Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s magnetic debut story collection breathes life into her Indigenous Latina characters and the land they inhabit. Set against the remarkable backdrop of Denver, Colorado–a place that is as fierce as it is exquisite–these women navigate the land the way they navigate their own lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force. Sabrina and Corina is a moving exploration of the universal experiences of abandonment, friendships and mother-daughter relationships, and the deep-rooted truths of our homelands and the people who inhabit it.

    The Other Americansby Laila Lalami
    Late one spring night, Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant living in California, is walking across a darkened intersection when he is killed by a speeding car. The repercussions of his death bring together a diverse cast of characters: Guerraoui’s daughter Nora, a jazz composer who returns to the small town in the Mojave she thought she’d left for good; his widow, Maryam, who still pines after her life in the old country; Efraín, an undocumented witness whose fear of deportation prevents him from coming forward; Jeremy, an old friend of Nora’s and an Iraq War veteran; Coleman, a detective who is slowly discovering her son’s secrets; Anderson, a neighbor trying to reconnect with his family; and the murdered man himself. As the characters—deeply divided by race, religion, and class—tell their stories, connections among them emerge, even as Driss’s family confronts its secrets, a town faces its hypocrisies, and love, messy and unpredictable, is born.

    Disappearing Earth, by Julia Phillips
    In this intense, original, must-read debut, two sisters vanish from the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia, and over the course of twelve chapters (each representing a month in the year that follows), readers will come to know the female denizens of the isolated, shoreline community as they respond in very different ways to the crime. From the girls’ mother, to witnesses, detectives, and other possible victims, every character is vividly rendered, as are the locations and histories that wind around the story like vines.

    Finalists for Nonfiction:
    Thick: And Other Essaysby Tressie McMillan Cottom
    In eight highly praised treatises on beauty, media, money, and more, Tressie McMillan Cottom—award-winning professor and acclaimed author of Lower Ed—is unapologetically “thick”: deemed “thick where I should have been thin, more where I should have been less,” McMillan Cottom refuses to shy away from blending the personal with the political, from bringing her full self and voice to the fore of her analytical work. Thick “transforms narrative moments into analyses of whiteness, black misogyny, and status-signaling as means of survival for black women” ( Los Angeles Review of Books ) with “writing that is as deft as it is amusing” (Darnell L. Moore).

    What You Have Heard is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance, by Carolyn Forché
    She is twenty-seven when the mysterious stranger appears on her doorstep. The relative of a friend, he is a charming polymath with a mind as seemingly disordered as it is brilliant. She’s heard rumors from her friend about who he might be: a lone wolf, a communist, a CIA operative, a sharpshooter, a revolutionary, a small coffee farmer, but according to her, no one seemed to know for certain. He has driven from El Salvador to invite Forché to visit and learn about his country. Captivated for reasons she doesn’t fully understand, she accepts and becomes enmeshed in something beyond her comprehension. Pursued by death squads and sheltering in safe houses, the two forge a rich friendship, as she attempts to make sense of what she’s experiencing and establish a moral foothold amidst profound suffering. This is the powerful story of a poet’s experience in a country on the verge of war, and a journey toward social conscience in a perilous time.

    The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present, by David Treuer
    Dee Brown’s 1970 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was the first truly popular book of Indian history ever published. But it promulgated the impression that American Indian history essentially ended with the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee—that not only did one hundred fifty Sioux die at the hands of the U. S. Cavalry but Native civilization did as well. Growing up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, training as an anthropologist, and researching Native life past and present for his nonfiction and novels, David Treuer has uncovered a different narrative. Because they did not disappear—and not despite but rather because of their intense struggles to preserve their language, their traditions, their families, and their very existence—the story of American Indians since the end of the nineteenth century to the present is one of unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention. Our B&N Podcast interview with Treuer is here.

    Solitary, by Albert Woodfox with Leslie George
    Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement—in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell, 23 hours a day, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana—all for a crime he did not commit. That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge whole from his odyssey within America’s prison and judicial systems is a triumph of the human spirit, and makes his book a clarion call to reform the inhumanity of solitary confinement in the U.S. and around the world.

    The Yellow Houseby Sarah M. Broom
    A book of great ambition, Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America’s most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother’s struggle against a house’s entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. Located in the gap between the “Big Easy” of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalized shame that often follows.

    Finalists for Poetry:
    The Tradition, by Jericho Brown
    Jericho Brown’s daring new book The Tradition details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal. Brown’s poetic concerns are both broad and intimate, and at their very core a distillation of the incredibly human: What is safety? Who is this nation? Where does freedom truly lie? Brown makes mythical pastorals to question the terrors to which we’ve become accustomed, and to celebrate how we survive. Poems of fatherhood, legacy, blackness, queerness, worship, and trauma are propelled into stunning clarity by Brown’s mastery, and his invention of the duplex—a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues—is testament to his formal skill. The Tradition is a cutting and necessary collection, relentless in its quest for survival while reveling in a celebration of contradiction.

    “I”: New and Selected Poems, by Toi Derricotte
    In Derricotte’s own words:

    “How do you gain access to the
    power of parts of yourself you
    abhor, and make them sing
    with beauty, tenderness, and compassion?

    This is the record of fifty years
    of victories in the reclamation
    of a poet’s voice.”

    Deaf Republic, by Ilya Kaminsky 
    Deaf Republic opens in an occupied country in a time of political unrest. When soldiers breaking up a protest kill a deaf boy, Petya, the gunshot becomes the last thing the citizens hear—they all have gone deaf, and their dissent becomes coordinated by sign language. The story follows the private lives of townspeople encircled by public violence: a newly married couple, Alfonso and Sonya, expecting a child; the brash Momma Galya, instigating the insurgency from her puppet theater; and Galya’s girls, heroically teaching signing by day and by night luring soldiers one by one to their deaths behind the curtain. At once a love story, an elegy, and an urgent plea, Ilya Kaminsky’s long-awaited Deaf Republic confronts our time’s vicious atrocities and our collective silence in the face of them.

    Be Recorder, by Carmen Giménez Smith
    Be Recorder offers readers a blazing way forward into an as yet unmade world. The many times and tongues in these poems investigate the precariousness of personhood in lines that excoriate and sanctify. Carmen Giménez Smith turns the increasingly pressing urge to cry out into a dream of rebellion—against compromise, against inertia, against self-delusion, and against the ways the media dream up our complacency in an America that depends on it. This reckoning with self and nation demonstrates that who and where we are is as conditional as the fact of our compliance: “Miss America from sea to shining sea / the huddled masses have a question / there is one of you and all of us.” Be Recorder is unrepentant and unstoppable, and affirms Giménez Smith as one of the most vital and vivacious poets of our time.

    Sight Lines, by Arthur Sze
    From the current phenomenon of drawing calligraphy with water in public parks in China to Thomas Jefferson laying out dinosaur bones on the White House floor, from the last sighting of the axolotl to a man who stops building plutonium triggers, Sight Lines moves through space and time and brings the disparate and divergent into stunning and meaningful focus. In this new work, Arthur Sze employs a wide range of voices—from lichen on a ceiling to a man behind on his rent—and his mythic imagination continually evokes how humans are endangering the planet; yet, balancing rigor with passion, he seizes the significant and luminous and transforms these moments into riveting and enduring poetry.

    Finalists for Translated Literature:
    Death is Hard Workby Khaled Khalifa, translated by Leri Price
    Khaled Khalifa’s Death Is Hard Work is the new novel from the greatest chronicler of Syria’s ongoing and catastrophic civil war: a tale of three ordinary people facing down the stuff of nightmares armed with little more than simple determination. Abdel Latif, an old man from the Aleppo region, dies peacefully in a hospital bed in Damascus. His final wish, conveyed to his youngest son, Bolbol, is to be buried in the family plot in their ancestral village of Anabiya. Though Abdel was hardly an ideal father, and though Bolbol is estranged from his siblings, this conscientious son persuades his older brother Hussein and his sister Fatima to accompany him and the body to Anabiya, which is—after all—only a two-hour drive from Damascus. There’s only one problem: Their country is a war zone. With the landscape of their childhood now a labyrinth of competing armies whose actions are at once arbitrary and lethal, the siblings’ decision to set aside their differences and honor their father’s request quickly balloons from a minor commitment into an epic and life-threatening quest. Syria, however, is no longer a place for heroes, and the decisions the family must make along the way—as they find themselves captured and recaptured, interrogated, imprisoned, and bombed—will prove to have enormous consequences for all of them.

    Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming, by László Krasznahorkai, translated by Ottilie Mulzet
    Set in contemporary times, Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming tells the story of a Prince Myshkin–like figure, Baron Béla Wenckheim, who returns at the end of his life to his provincial Hungarian hometown. Having escaped from his many casino debts in Buenos Aires, where he was living in exile, he longs to be reunited with his high-school sweetheart Marika. Confusions abound, and what follows is an endless storm of gossip, con men, and local politicians, vividly evoking the small town’s alternately drab and absurd existence. All along, the Professor—a world-famous natural scientist who studies mosses and inhabits a bizarre Zen-like shack in a desolate area outside of town—offers long rants and disquisitions on his attempts to immunize himself from thought. Spectacular actions are staged as death and the abyss loom over the unsuspecting townfolk.

    The Barefoot Womanby Scholastique Mukasonga, translated by Jordan Stump
    A moving, unforgettable tribute to a Tutsi woman who did everything to protect her children from the Rwandan genocide, by the daughter who refuses to let her family’s story be forgotten. The story of the author’s mother, a fierce, loving woman who for years protected her family from the violence encroaching upon them in pre-genocide Rwanda. Recording her memories of their life together in spare, wrenching prose, Mukasonga preserves her mother’s voice in a haunting work of art.

    The Memory Policeby Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder
    A haunting Orwellian novel about the terrors of state surveillance, from the acclaimed author of The Housekeeper and the Professor. On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses—until things become much more serious. Most of the island’s inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten. When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past. A surreal, provocative fable about the power of memory and the trauma of loss, The Memory Police is a stunning new work from one of the most exciting contemporary authors writing in any language.

    Crossingby Pajtim Statovci, translated by David Hackston
    The death of head of state Enver Hoxha and the loss of his father leave Bujar growing up in the ruins of Communist Albania and of his own family. Only his fearless best friend, Agim—who is facing his own realizations about his gender and sexuality—gives him hope for the future. Together the two decide to leave everything behind and try their luck in Italy. But the struggle to feel at home—in a foreign country and even in one’s own body—will have corrosive effects, spurring a dangerous search for new identities. Steeped in a rich heritage of bewitching Albanian myth and legend, this is a deeply timely and deeply necessary novel about the broken reality for millions worldwide, about identity in all its complex permutations, and the human need to be seen.

    Finalists for Young People’s Literature:
    Pet, by Akwaeke Emezi
    Monsters were banished from the town of Lucille a long time ago—or at least that’s what everyone thought. Jam’s been taught that the bigotry and injustice they brought with them are things of the past. But then hulking Pet claws its way out of her mother’s painting. Pet warns that there is a monster in Lucille, and it’s in her best friend Redemption’s house. Emezi’s YA debut is a compelling allegory for our time, carried on the shoulders of a fascinating cast of characters, at the center of which is Jam, black, transgender, and selectively nonverbal. We can almost guarantee you won’t read anything else like it this year.

    Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, by Jason Reynolds
    One of the best things I read this year was Reynolds’s short story in Black Enough, about a group of boys dreaming of the perfect sandwich. His newest longer work is every bit as unusual and compelling, a novel told over the course of a ten-block walk. (Reynolds excels at deeply exploring moments in time;  Long Way Down, a National Book Awards Longlist selection in 2017 takes place in the 60 seconds it takes an elevator to descend, as the boy riding in it contemplates whether to carry out a revenge shooting). It’s a slice of life, or really of a bunch of lives, about what happens as you’re living, the detours and the conversations and the truth and the connections, and to make it even better, it’s an illustrated work, with art by Alexander Nabaum.

    Patron Saints of Nothing, by Randy Ribay
    It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a book look as powerful and relevant as Ribay’s third novel, which tells the story of a boy named Jay whose entire plan for his final semester of high school is to play video games, until he learns his Filipino cousin Jun was a victim of President Duterte’s war on drugs. No one else in the family wants to discuss it, but Jay needs to find the truth behind his cousin’s murder, even if it means traveling to the Philippines to get it. He isn’t at all prepared for what he learns there, especially the fact that Jay himself had his own part in Jun’s death.

    Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All, by Laura Ruby
    Ruby (the Printz-winning rural fantasy Bone Gap) hops genres with her newest, set in Chicago during World War II and starring Frankie, who’s living with her siblings in an orphanage after the death of her mother and disappearance of her father. Her dad was supposed to return as soon as he made enough money to take care of them, but when he shows up for a weekend visit that turns out to be his final goodbye as he takes off for greener pastures with his new wife, Frankie and her sister, Toni, are now on their own, forcing Frankie to figure out how to make a life in a world that’s burning to embers around them.

    1919: The Year That Changed America, by Martin W. Sandler
    1919 was a momentous year, as Sandler documents in this fascinating overview of events ranging from Boston’s Great Molasses Flood, to laborers protesting working conditions, to women’s gaining the right to vote. Sandler breathes life into each event, gives it context, and examines its impact on modern day politics and culture; connections to immigration, the Black Lives Matter movement, and climate change will particularly resonate with young readers. A meticulous and breathtaking look at history’s influence on the present day.

    How many of the 2019 National Book Award Finalists have you read?

    The post Announcing the 2019 National Book Awards Finalists appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 2:45 pm on 2019/09/20 Permalink
    Tags: , awards, , black light, , , , helen phillips, , kali fajardo-anstine, kimberly king parsons, laila lalami, marlon james, nickel boys, sabrina & corina, susan choi, taffy bodesser-akner, the need, the other americans, trust exercise   

    Announcing the Longlist for the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction 


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    Throughout this week, the longlists for the 2019 National Book Awards are being announced, with the selection of finalists in each of five categories—Young People’s LiteratureTranslated LiteraturePoetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction. This morning, we present the final longlist, for the category of Fiction.

    Fleishman Is in Trouble, by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
    Toby Fleishman thought he knew what to expect when he and his wife of almost fifteen years separated: weekends and every other holiday with the kids and the occasional moment of tension in their co-parenting negotiations. He could not have predicted that one day, Rachel would just drop their two children off at his place and simply not return. As Toby tries to figure out where Rachel went, his tidy narrative of the spurned husband is his sole consolation. But if Toby ever wants to truly understand what happened to Rachel and what happened to his marriage, he is going to have to consider that he might not have seen things all that clearly in the first place.

    Trust Exercise, by Susan Choi
    An Indie Next pick named to 11 best book lists in 2018, Trust Exercise is set in the 1980s at a highly competitive suburban performing arts high school, Trust Exercise will incite heated discussions about fiction and truth, friendships and loyalties, and will leave readers with wiser understandings of the true capacities of adolescents and the powers and responsibilities of adults.

    Sabrina & Corina: Stories, by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
    Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s magnetic debut story collection breathes life into her Indigenous Latina characters and the land they inhabit. Set against the remarkable backdrop of Denver, Colorado–a place that is as fierce as it is exquisite–these women navigate the land the way they navigate their own lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force. Sabrina and Corina is a moving exploration of the universal experiences of abandonment, friendships and mother-daughter relationships, and the deep-rooted truths of our homelands and the people who inhabit it.

    Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James
    Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard. As Tracker follows the boy’s scent—from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers—he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?

    The Other Americans, by Laila Lalami
    Late one spring night, Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant living in California, is walking across a darkened intersection when he is killed by a speeding car. The repercussions of his death bring together a diverse cast of characters: Guerraoui’s daughter Nora, a jazz composer who returns to the small town in the Mojave she thought she’d left for good; his widow, Maryam, who still pines after her life in the old country; Efraín, an undocumented witness whose fear of deportation prevents him from coming forward; Jeremy, an old friend of Nora’s and an Iraq War veteran; Coleman, a detective who is slowly discovering her son’s secrets; Anderson, a neighbor trying to reconnect with his family; and the murdered man himself. As the characters—deeply divided by race, religion, and class—tell their stories, connections among them emerge, even as Driss’s family confronts its secrets, a town faces its hypocrisies, and love, messy and unpredictable, is born.

    Black Light: Stories, by Kimberly King Parsons
    Celebrated by author Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties) as “grimy and weird, surprising, utterly lush,” the stories in this debut collection burn with feminist fire and passionate anger. Per the publisher, these are stories exploring “ache of first love, the banality of self-loathing, the scourge of addiction, the myth of marriage, and the magic and inevitable disillusionment of childhood.” “Foxes” intertwines the stories of a woman’s divorce and her daughter’s daydreams involving noble knights and their mysterious enemies; one tale soon begins to blend into the other. In “Soft No,” two siblings must grapple with the politics of their neighborhood, but face equal challenges at home from their erratic mother. And in “Black Light,” a woman witnesses a lost lover transform into someone seemingl entirely different, even as she tries to hide her own secrets amid another breakup. These are powerfully intimate stories, precisely told.

    The Need, by Helen Phillips
    Acclaimed as one of the year’s best books by The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, and Lithub, among others, this chilling speculative novel from the author of The Beautiful Bureaucrat is a ornately composed thriller with a surreal edge. It follows scientist Molly Nye in the aftermath of a truly unnerving discovery during a routine fossil dig—she and her colleagues find not only evidence of previously unknown types of plant species, but a host of random, inexplicable objects that seem ripped from another reality: including a strange toy soldier, a Coke bottle with an off-kilter logo, and a Bible that refers to God as a woman. As the discovery draws gawkers to the excavation site, Molly’s life threatens to come off of its hinges, as she is pursued by a figure that seems to know her most intimate secrets. It’s a moving and metafictional exploration of the ways we all are done and undone by time—literary fiction with a science-fictional edge.

    Disappearing Earth, by Julia Phillips
    In this intense, original, must-read debut, two sisters vanish from the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia, and over the course of twelve chapters (each representing a month in the year that follows), readers will come to know the female denizens of the isolated, shoreline community as they respond in very different ways to the crime. From the girls’ mother, to witnesses, detectives, and other possible victims, every character is vividly rendered, as are the locations and histories that wind around the story like vines.

    On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong
    This nonlinear roman à clef debut from a critically lauded poet is written as though from a son to his illiterate mother. It depicts a family history of intergenerational abuse mixed with fierce love. The letter writer, known as Little Dog, feels like an outsider in a variety of ways. As a teenager, he emigrated to America from Vietnam with the three women who make up his world: mother, grandmother, and aunt, each traumatized by the Vietnam War. As a young gay man, and the first of his family to attend college, he attempts to reconcile the violence of the past with a future that won’t hold still or accommodate narrative conclusions. In short, it’s like real life: messy, tragic, lovely, and painful all at once.

    The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
    Colson Whitehead won the 2016 National Book Award for Underground Railroad (which also took home the Pulitzer Prize). A difficult act to follow, but Nickel Boys is up to the challenge. It follows two philosophically opposed black students at notorious reform school the Nickel Academy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s. Though the school claims to turn delinquents into “honorable and honest men,” via “physical, intellectual and moral training,” in truth it’s an appalling place, full of corruption and abuse of every type. Elwood Curtis tries to emulate his hero, Dr. King, during the hellish interment, as a means of keeping his own humanity close, but his friend Turner is more cynical about the world. The boys’ disparate survival techniques culminate in a plan that will impact the rest of their lives.

    The 2019 National Book Award winners will be announced on November 20.

    The post Announcing the Longlist for the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Molly Schoemann-McCann 4:00 pm on 2019/09/19 Permalink
    Tags: , awards, burn the place: a memoir, go ahead in the rain: notes to a tribe called quest, race for profit: how banks and the real estate industry undermined black homeownership, say nothing: a true story of murder and memory in northern ireland, solitary, the end of the myth: from the frontier to the border wall in the mind of america, the heartbeat of wounded knee: native america from 1890 to the present, , thick: and other essays, what you have heard is true: a memoir of witness and resistance   

    Announcing the Longlist for the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction 


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    Throughout this week, the longlists for the 2019 National Book Awards are being announced, with the selection of finalists in each of five categories—Young People’s LiteratureTranslated LiteraturePoetry, Fiction and Nonfiction—to follow. This morning, we present the longlist for the category of Nonfiction. Additional longlists will be announced each day.

    From an homage to the rap group A Tribe Called Quest, to an analysis of the continuing evolution of the concept of the American Frontier, to the harrowing story of a man who served four decades in solitary confinement, the books included in the longlist for the National Book Award for nonfiction are filled with close examinations of overlooked periods of history and unforgettable—and deeply personal—stories. Even readers who don’t typically read nonfiction will be spellbound by any of the ten picks below.

    Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest, by Hanif Abdurraqib
    How does one pay homage to A Tribe Called Quest? The seminal rap group brought jazz into the genre, resurrecting timeless rhythms to create masterpieces such as The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders. Seventeen years after their last album, they resurrected themselves with an intense, socially conscious record, We Got It from Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service, which arrived when fans needed it most, in the aftermath of the 2016 election. Poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib digs into the group’s history and draws from his own experience to reflect on how its distinctive sound resonated among fans like himself. The result is as ambitious and genre-bending as the rap group itself.

    The Yellow House, by Sarah M. Broom
    A book of great ambition, Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America’s most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother’s struggle against a house’s entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. Located in the gap between the “Big Easy” of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalized shame that often follows.

    Thick: And Other Essays, by Tressie McMillan Cottom
    In eight highly praised treatises on beauty, media, money, and more, Tressie McMillan Cottom—award-winning professor and acclaimed author of Lower Ed—is unapologetically “thick”: deemed “thick where I should have been thin, more where I should have been less,” McMillan Cottom refuses to shy away from blending the personal with the political, from bringing her full self and voice to the fore of her analytical work. Thick “transforms narrative moments into analyses of whiteness, black misogyny, and status-signaling as means of survival for black women” ( Los Angeles Review of Books ) with “writing that is as deft as it is amusing” (Darnell L. Moore).

    What You Have Heard is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance, by Carolyn Forché
    She is twenty-seven when the mysterious stranger appears on her doorstep. The relative of a friend, he is a charming polymath with a mind as seemingly disordered as it is brilliant. She’s heard rumors from her friend about who he might be: a lone wolf, a communist, a CIA operative, a sharpshooter, a revolutionary, a small coffee farmer, but according to her, no one seemed to know for certain. He has driven from El Salvador to invite Forché to visit and learn about his country. Captivated for reasons she doesn’t fully understand, she accepts and becomes enmeshed in something beyond her comprehension. Pursued by death squads and sheltering in safe houses, the two forge a rich friendship, as she attempts to make sense of what she’s experiencing and establish a moral foothold amidst profound suffering. This is the powerful story of a poet’s experience in a country on the verge of war, and a journey toward social conscience in a perilous time.

    The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, by Greg Grandin
    Ever since this nation’s inception, the idea of an open and ever-expanding frontier has been central to American identity. Symbolizing a future of endless promise, it was the foundation of the United States’ belief in itself as an exceptional nation—democratic, individualistic, forward-looking. Today, though, America has a new symbol: the border wall. In The End of the Myth, acclaimed historian Greg Grandin explores the meaning of the frontier throughout the full sweep of U.S. history—from the American Revolution to the War of 1898, the New Deal to the election of 2016.

    Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, by Patrick Radden Keefe
    In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Patrick Radden Keefe’s mesmerizing book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with.

    Burn the Place: A Memoir, by Iliana Regan
    Burn the Place is a galvanizing memoir that chronicles Iliana Regan’s journey from foraging on the family farm to running her Michelin-starred restaurant, Elizabeth. Regan grew up the youngest of four headstrong girls on a small farm in Northwest Indiana. Regan has had this intense, almost otherworldly connection with food and the earth it comes from since her childhood, but connecting with people has always been more difficult. She was a little girl who longed to be a boy, gay in an intolerant community, an alcoholic before she turned twenty, and a woman in an industry dominated by men—she often felt she “wasn’t made for this world,” and as far as she could tell, the world tended to agree. But as she learned to cook in her childhood farmhouse, got her first restaurant job at age fifteen, taught herself cutting-edge cuisine while running a “new gatherer” underground supper club, and worked her way from front-of-house staff to running her own kitchen, Regan found that food could help her navigate the strangeness of the world around her.

    Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership, by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
    By the late 1960s and early 1970s, reeling from a wave of urban uprisings, politicians finally worked to end the practice of redlining. Reasoning that the turbulence could be calmed by turning Black city-dwellers into homeowners, they passed the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, and set about establishing policies to induce mortgage lenders and the real estate industry to treat Black homebuyers equally. The disaster that ensued revealed that racist exclusion had not been eradicated, but rather transmuted into a new phenomenon of predatory inclusionRace for Profit uncovers how exploitative real estate practices continued well after housing discrimination was banned. The same racist structures and individuals remained intact after redlining’s end, and close relationships between regulators and the industry created incentives to ignore improprieties.

    The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present, by David Treuer
    Dee Brown’s 1970 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was the first truly popular book of Indian history ever published. But it promulgated the impression that American Indian history essentially ended with the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee—that not only did one hundred fifty Sioux die at the hands of the U. S. Cavalry but Native civilization did as well. Growing up Ojibwe on a reservation in Minnesota, training as an anthropologist, and researching Native life past and present for his nonfiction and novels, David Treuer has uncovered a different narrative. Because they did not disappear—and not despite but rather because of their intense struggles to preserve their language, their traditions, their families, and their very existence—the story of American Indians since the end of the nineteenth century to the present is one of unprecedented resourcefulness and reinvention. Our B&N Podcast interview with Treuer is here.

    Solitary, by Albert Woodfox with Leslie George
    Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement—in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell, 23 hours a day, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana—all for a crime he did not commit. That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge whole from his odyssey within America’s prison and judicial systems is a triumph of the human spirit, and makes his book a clarion call to reform the inhumanity of solitary confinement in the U.S. and around the world.

    The 2019 National Book Award winners will be announced on November 20.

    The post Announcing the Longlist for the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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