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  • Kat Sarfas 1:52 am on 2020/05/05 Permalink
    Tags: awards, , pulitzer prize fiction,   

    The Pulitzer Prize Winners for 2020 


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    There are literary awards, and then there’s the Pulitzer Prize. Those winners are the books that open your eyes and shake you around a bit – stories by American authors that will forever linger in a reader’s subconscious. Recent winners for fiction include The Goldfinch, by Donna Tart, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, Less, by Andrew Sean Greer, and The Overstory, by Richard Powers – must read, heavy hitters that cut to the heart of humanity and American life. This year’s winners are:

    In the category of Fiction – The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead.

    “Colson Whitehead continues to make a classic American genre his own… with gravity and care, the steward of painful, suppressed histories; his choices on the page can feel as much ethical as aesthetic…” – The New York Times

    This is the second Pulitzer for author, Colson Whitehead in 4 years – he also won the prize for Fiction back in 2017 for The Underground Railroad. This brilliant and blistering story of two boys in Jim Crow-era Florida was a BN Book Club pick last July – we also had the good fortune to sit down with Colson to talk imagination, courage, and The Nickel Boys on our B&N Podcast.

    Fiction finalists include The Topeka School, by Ben Lerner (“Ben Lerner has redefined what it means for a writer to inhabit an American present by showing how a family reckons with its past… The Topeka School is brave, furious, and, finally, a work of love.” – Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous), and The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett, both fresh takes on classic coming-of-age stories. No one writes about sibling relationships as well as Ann Patchett; The New York Times goes further: “Expect miracles when you read Ann Patchett’s fiction.”

    In the category of History – Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America, by W. Caleb McDaniel, which Tony Horwitz, author of Spying on the South, called “A chilling, inspiring, and timely examination of both the necessity and complexity of redressing historical crimes.”

    In the category of Biography – Sontag, by Benjamin Moser. “Don’t be fooled by the length. This book is compulsive reading: moving, maddening, ridiculous and beautiful scenes from the life of Susan Sontag… Moser has a true and deep love for his subject, and it shows,” says Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers.

    In the category of Poetry – The Tradition, by Jericho Brown. “These astounding poems…don’t merely hold a lens up to the world and watch from a safe distance; they run or roll or stomp their way into what matters… This is one of the most luminous and courageous voices I have read in a long, long time.” – U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith

    This year, the Pulitzer for General Nonfiction is shared by two books: The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care, by Anne Boyer, “a profound and unforgettable document on the experience of life itself,” says Sally Rooney, author of Normal People, and The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, by Greg Grandin, which Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Twilight of the American Century, says is “written with insight, passion, and uncompromising moral clarity.”

    And while tie-in books may not be available, we have to still give a big shoutout to the impressive works in the category of Music – The Central Park Five, by Anthony Davis which premiered last year at the Long Beach Opera, and in the category of Drama – A Strange Loop, by Michael R. Jackson, an original musical.

     

    The post The Pulitzer Prize Winners for 2020 appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Kat Sarfas 2:00 pm on 2020/01/27 Permalink
    Tags: awards, caldecott, coretta scott king, jerry craft, kadir nelson, , , newbery, the undefeated   

    The 2020 Newbery Medal, Caldecott Medal, and Coretta Scott King Award Winners 


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    The prestigious Newbery, Caldecott, and Coretta Scott King Book Awards have long served as a guide to those seeking some of the best original and creative content published for young readers. These prize winners are the books that shape childhoods, give new perspectives to budding readers, and start a lifelong love of stories and the written word.  This year’s winner are:

    The John Newbery Medal

    With its long history, the Newbery is the most recognizable children’s book award given for “the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year.”

    The 2020 Newbery Medal Winner — New Kid, by Jerry Craft

    An honest look at starting over in a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real.  This graphic novel is tender and heartbreaking, yet funny and uplifting. A story sure to resonate deeply with young readers.

    Newbery Honor Books: The Undefeated, by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, Scary Stories for Young Foxes, by Christian McKay Heidicker, illustrated by Junyi Wu, Other Words for Home, by Jasmine Warga, and Genesis Begins Again, by Alicia D. Williams.

    The Randolph Caldecott Medal

    Awarded to the artist that illustrated the “most distinguished American Picture Book for Children published in the United States during the preceding year.”

    The 2020 Caldecott Medal Winner — The Undefeated, by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

    A powerful tribute to the African American experience in America.  Kadir Nelson’s trademark photorealistic style showcases the many struggles and triumphs of some of the world’s greatest heroes with grace and strength.

    Caldecott Honor Books: Bear Came Along, by LeUyen Pham, written by Richard T. Morris; Double Bass Blues, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez, written by Andrea J. Loney; and Going Down Home with Daddy, illustrated by Daniel Minter, written by Kelly Starling Lyons.

    Coretta Scott King Book Awards

    Given to exceptional African American authors and illustrators of children and YA literature that “demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.”

    The 2020 Author Award Winner — New Kidby Jerry Craft

    Author Honor Books: The Stars and the Blackness Between Them, written by Junauda Petrus; Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, written by Kwame Mbalia; and Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, written by Jason Reynolds.

    The 2020 Illustrator Award Winner — The Undefeated, by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

    Illustrator Honor Books: The Bell Rang, illustrated by James E. Ransome, written by the illustrator; Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace, illustrated by Ashley Bryan, written by the illustrator; and Sulwe, illustrated by Vashti Harrison, written by Lupita Nyong’o.

    The post The 2020 Newbery Medal, Caldecott Medal, and Coretta Scott King Award Winners appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Joel Cunningham 1:00 pm on 2019/11/21 Permalink
    Tags: 1919: the year that changed america, , arthur size, awards, baron wenchkeim's homecoming, , , , great slate, lászló krasznahorkai, martin w. sandler, National Book Award, , , , ,   

    Announcing the Winners of the 2019 National Book Awards 


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    When the journalist and writer Sarah M. Broom decided to tell the story of her family—of the home her then-19-year-old mother bought in New Orleans East at the age of 19; the house where she raised twelve children, including Sarah; the house that was was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2006—in her searing memoir The Yellow House, she knew there was value in sharing their intimate, personal story with the world. She knew it was worth the risk.

    “My family understands, I think, the value of having these stories in a book,” she said. “I think they know that in a way this will outlast them and be something that the next generations can draw on to understand where they came from.”

    That pronouncement took on an air of prophecy last night, as Broom took home the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction, ensuring the already widely acclaimed work will find its way into the hands of many more readers. The Broom family’s story will live on.

    This fall, we’ve been following along with the 2019 National Book Awards, from the announcement of the fascinating longlists in September to last month’s unveiling of the formidable shortlists. At a ceremony last night in New York City, the awards were finally handed out in each of five categories—Young People’s Literature, Translated Literature, Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction. Taken together, the winners are a powerful collection of books, from authors whose work, from prose to poetry, feels utterly vital to the landscape of American letters in 2019.

    Here is the complete list of winners. Explore the other nominated works here.

    Winner 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.

     

    Winner for Nonfiction

    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.

    Winner for Poetry

    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.

    Winner for Translated Literature

    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.

    Winner for Young People’s Literature

    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.

    Congratulations to the winners! Explore all all of the nominees here.

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

     
  • BN Editors 1:00 pm on 2019/11/21 Permalink
    Tags: , after the flood, awards, , , , national book award for nonfiction, ,   

    Breaking the Frame: Sarah Broom Unearths Her Family’s Story in Her National Book Award-Winning Memoir The Yellow House 


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    Last night, journalist and author Sarah M. Broom took home the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction for her memoir The Yellow House, an emotional and revelatory chronicle of her family home in New Orleans, where her mother raised 12 children before it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2006. In it, their story becomes a sort of biography of the city itself—a place that was flooded with problems, from racial division, to poverty, to government corruption, long before the waters rose.

    Below, we present a profile of the author and her book by Amy Gall, originally published in September 2019.

    For author Sarah Broom, the expression “home is where the heart is” works not just as a truism, but as an understatement. “I was haunted by the house I grew up in from the moment I left it to go to college in 1997. I’m interested in place and what it means to be tethered to place, and through the years, I kept taking notes on the physical house itself without knowing what I was going to say about it. And then in 2006 after Katrina hit and the house was demolished by the city, the story changed for me. Because rather than write about this physical place that I can cast my longing and interrogations on, there was no place. Then I was writing about absence and that process blew open a world for me.”

    That blown-open world would eventually become Broom’s stunning debut memoir The Yellow House. It tells the story of the shotgun home Broom’s mother bought in New Orleans East at the age of 19 and where she raised twelve children, Broom being the youngest, until the house was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

    In order to construct this meticulous narrative, Broom, who had spent much of her adult life running away from the city of her birth, moved back to New Orleans in 2011 and spent the year doing extensive interviews with her family. It was an act that was at times cathartic but also gave rise to its own difficulties when the resulting stories began to get published. “An excerpt from the book ran in The New Yorker in 2015 and the magazine is meticulous about fact checking, so they called my siblings to ask them if what they said was true and my siblings were like, ‘Sigh. Here she goes again.’ It’s very hard to be written about. My family understands, I think, the value of having these stories in a book and I think they know that in a way this will outlast them and be something that the next generations can draw on to understand where they came from. But in the moment, that’s not the thing you’re thinking about when you’re feeling exposed and vulnerable.”

    The true power of The Yellow House emerges in the way Broom takes these highly personal stories and stitches them into a larger narrative about New Orleans itself, a city that has been plagued by racism, capitalist greed, and government corruption since long before Hurricane Katrina brought all of these issues to the nation’s attention. “I spent a lot of time thinking about the dysfunction of New Orleans. In a way, it made me feel closer to the city, like I was claiming it in the way that Joan Didion writes about making a place your own. But then I was also turning it on its back and looking at its soft underbelly and saying, what kind of place is this that made me and noticing that there are some icky things under there. But those icky things were part of what it means to tell a full story. The whole section about the French Quarter, for instance, is a game of taking what people know about New Orleans and saying, ‘How do I exploit that knowledge and push it to the edge of itself? How do I go into the myths of America like: it’s a meritocracy, and, if you buy a house it will lead you to wealth, and then blow them up?’ ”

    Broom got her start in journalism, earning her degree from the University of California, Berkeley, where she worked with Cynthia Gorney, “an old school journalist from the Washington Post.” The investigative rigor Broom honed there fed a project that wound up expanding outside the limits of a typical memoir. “I was trying to make something a little beyond the frame, because it was personal but that was just one layer, and even the personal was a lot of investigative reporting. If my uncle said to me, ‘In 1920 we were living on Saint Joseph Street by the rice mill,’ I wouldn’t just write, ‘Uncle Joe said they lived on Saint Joseph Street.’ I’d find the name of the rice mill, figure out where the train tracks were, figure out from census records how long they were there, and then construct a story from that fact. I used the thing he said to build a kind of world, and that’s an extra layer of journalistic work. I spent a lot of time in public libraries, cemetery libraries, driving to Raceland where my father is from. I basically lived on the fifth floor, which is called the Louisiana Division, of the main library in New Orleans and the University of New Orleans archive. But there needed to be all these layers of investigation because the book for me was like a concentric circle, just expanding and getting broader and broader.”

    Broom took particular pains to illustrate how inadequate healthcare, access to education and employment and “environmental racism” trap black families like hers in cycles of poverty and violence. She uses those broader themes to return powerfully to the memories of childhood shame she carried, growing up in a home that, even before Katrina, had fallen into a state of disrepair. “There was a moment in the book where I say something about how I learned to define myself by the place I’m from and the trick in the work of shame I think, is rather than allow you the clarity of mind to say, what the fuck is wrong with this system? What the fuck is wrong with this world? You take it on as yours. Now, as a thinking, interrogative person, that shame feels ridiculous to me.”

    Sometimes the heaviness of the work would stop Broom in her tracks, but inspiration could also come from unexpected places. “It was very hard, because you’re sucked into this world. For a long time I didn’t talk to my siblings in real life, because I was writing them and I was listening to them and it was just a lot, all their stories and their fears and ideas. At some point I was going so insane with this story and it seemed too unwieldy and I couldn’t gather it together and I remember standing up in my office, and going to the wall where I would do charcoal drawings every morning as a kind of exercise and just writing ‘Show Up’ and underneath that ‘Stay.’ And that became the thing that I did. I didn’t overthink it and say ‘This is so hard.’ I just showed up and stayed.”

    After spending so much time documenting the loss of her childhood house, one might expect that Broom would be hesitant about owning a home, especially in New Orleans. But an unexpected discovery piqued the author’s interest. “When my book went into production, my friend sent me a listing for this little yellow shotgun house. I never wanted a yellow house. I was not a person trying to replace my childhood home. But it was the cutest little house and I became obsessed with it. The house is only about 650 square feet, so I can’t really host big gatherings there. Only about four people can fit in there at once. But buying it was a moment where I was just thinking about myself and my own needs. And when you’re from a large family, that doesn’t happen that often. So, the house is special for me in that way.”

    This new yellow house has a history just as interesting as its predecessor, and may even inspire her next book. “The house is supposedly from 1811 and was originally owned by a free woman of color. I’d like to write about it someday. Who knows? The rest of my life might just be looking up addresses and saying what’s the history of this place?”

    The Yellow House is available now. Explore all the winners of the 2019 National Book Awards here.

    The post Breaking the Frame: Sarah Broom Unearths Her Family’s Story in Her National Book Award-Winning Memoir <i>The Yellow House</i> appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • 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.

     
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