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  • BN Editors 4:00 pm on 2018/10/10 Permalink
    Tags: , national book awards   

    Announcing the 2018 National Book Award Finalists! 

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    This morning the National Book Foundation has announced the finalists for the 2018 National Book Awards in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Books in Translation and Young Peoples’ Literature.

    Selected from these lists of five finalists in each category, the winners will be named at the annual National Book Awards ceremony on November 14, 2018.


    Jamel Brinkley, A Lucky Man
    Graywolf Press

    Lauren Groff, Florida
    Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House

    Brandon Hobson, Where the Dead Sit Talking
    Soho Press

    Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers
    Viking Books / Penguin Random House

    Sigrid Nunez, The Friend
    Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House












    Colin G. Calloway, The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation
    Oxford University Press

    Victoria Johnson, American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic
    Liveright / W. W. Norton & Company

    Sarah Smarsh, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth
    Scribner / Simon & Schuster

    Jeffrey C. Stewart, The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke
    Oxford University Press

    Adam Winkler, We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights
    Liveright / W. W. Norton & Company













    Rae Armantrout, Wobble
    Wesleyan University Press

    Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin
    Penguin Books / Penguin Random House

    Diana Khoi Nguyen, Ghost Of
    Omnidawn Publishing

    Justin Phillip Reed, Indecency
    Coffee House Press

    Jenny Xie, Eye Level
    Graywolf Press











    Négar Djavadi, Disoriental
    Translated by Tina Kover
    Europa Editions

    Hanne Ørstavik, Love
    Translated by Martin Aitken
    Archipelago Books

    Domenico Starnone, Trick
    Translated by Jhumpa Lahiri
    Europa Editions

    Yoko Tawada, The Emissary
    Translated by Margaret Mitsutani
    New Directions Publishing

    Olga Tokarczuk, Flights
    Translated by Jennifer Croft
    Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House











    Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X
    HarperTeen / HarperCollins Publishers

    T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin, The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge
    Candlewick Press

    Leslie Connor, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
    Katherine Tegen Books / HarperCollins Publishers

    Christopher Paul Curtis, The Journey of Little Charlie
    Scholastic Press / Scholastic, Inc.

    Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Hey, Kiddo
    Graphix / Scholastic, Inc.




    The post Announcing the 2018 National Book Award Finalists! appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Monique Alice 4:30 pm on 2014/11/03 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , national book awards, , the laughing monsters,   

    The Laughing Monsters, a Spy Novel for the 21st Century 

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    Denis Johnson's The Laughing MonstersIf you’re looking for a quick, edge-of-your-seat, can’t-put-it-down read, pick up National Book Award winner Denis Johnson’s newest novel, The Laughing Monsters. It’s a nail-biting page-turner that ends as unceremoniously as it begins. Weighing in at a neat 228 pages, The Laughing Monsters packs a great punch in a little package, with viscerally real characters, a volatile and mysterious setting, and many of the trappings of a classic spy novel.

    Roland Nair seems no more sure of where he’s been than where he’s going. An American-born Dane who speaks almost no Danish, Nair is as comfortable in Rishikesh as he is in Cleveland. This is rather a convenient quality in a spy, though technically Nair is a NATO operative. The only thing more confusing than his origin is his loyalty, which seems to belong to everyone and no one. He’s smart, resourceful, and charming…but not exactly a choirboy. He drinks anything put in front of him, seeks out the services of sex workers despite his loyal significant other back home, and angles to win the affections of his friend’s fiancée. Nope, not a nice guy. But so dang likable!

    Nair is in Sierra Leone on the hunt for old friend and comrade Michael Adriko. The two have a long history of helping each other both into and out of assorted espionage-related scrapes. When Nair finds his target, the two resume their old buddy routine as only two spies-for-hire can: with equal parts conviviality and suspicion. Their uneasy bond is further tested by Adriko’s captivating American fiancée, Davidia, whom the two place firmly in the center of the perpetual tug-of-war between their egos. Despite their mistrust for one another, Nair and Adriko know they can get further together than apart. Nair is scheming to sell U.S. intelligence at a hefty profit, and Adriko is after a place at the table of the family from which he was separated as a child during a bloody insurrection. Neither can complete his mission without the other, and so the pair trudge on toward their shared goals of profit, redemption, and a decent hotel.

    In Nair, Johnson has painted a stirring portrait of a man torn between his lust for adventure and his angst over the apparent purposelessness of his life. Nair’s mood is as unreliable as Johnson’s Africa itself. Through vivid descriptions of the embattled, poverty-stricken continent, as beautiful as it is unforgiving, Johnson draws on readers’ empathy for the casualties of war and colonialism. You’ll see the majestic mountain range from which the novel gets its name, feel the sultry evening air pocked with deadly insects, and hear the American classics pumped through analog radios, eerily incongruous with their surroundings. Johnson has his finger firmly on the pulse of a post-9/11 world, a place so volatile it seems one spark away from combustion.

    The novel is classic spy stuff in that it’s full of intrigue, plot twists, and an underlying electric current of urgency. The Laughing Monsters, however, is modern in its tone and delivery. Though eschewing a neatly tied plot and a clear understanding of who the good guys are, the novel’s compelling characters and exhilarating prose make it a great ride.


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