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Category: prizes

Steven Millhauser beats DeLillo, Pearlman for 2011 Story Prize

Steven Millhauser wins 2012 Story Prize

Steven Millhauser took the 2011 Story Prize in New York City Wednesday night, winning over fellow finalists Don DeLillo and Edith Pearlman. Millhauser will receive $20,000 for his collection "We Others: New and Selected Stories." In 1997, Millhauser won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel "Martin Dressler."

In addition to the $20,000, winner Millhauser was given a silver bowl. Runners-up Delillo and Pearlman  received $5,000 each. All three authors read at the ceremony -- DeLillo from "The Angel Esmeralda" and Pearlman, who recently won the National Book Critics Circle award for fiction, from "Binocular Vision."

A three-judge panel selected the winner: author Sherman Alexie; Louise Steinman, curator of the Los Angeles Public Library’s ALOUD series, who is also an author; and Breon Mitchell, a translator, professor of comparative literature, and director of the Lilly Library at Indiana University. I served as a judge of the 2009 Story Prize.

Founded in 2004, the Story Prize is designed to bring attention the craft and accomplishments of short fiction. Previous winners include Edwidge Danticat, Patrick O’Keeffe, Mary Gordon, Jim Shepard, Tobias Wolff, Daniyal Mueenuddin and Anthony Doerr. 


The Story Prize finalists: Delillo, Pearlman and Millhauser

Anthony Doerr awarded the 2010 Story Prize

Daniyal Mueenuddin, winner of the 2009 Story Prize

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Steven Millhauser, left, with the Story Prize's Larry Dark. Credit: Beowulf Sheehan

The second Zocalo Book Prize goes to Richard Sennett's 'Together'

Together_richardsennettZócalo Public Square has announced that its second annual book prize will go to Richard Sennett's "Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Co-Operation." The prize comes with an award of $5,000.

Zócalo, which holds a series of public discussions throughout the year in Los Angeles and beyond, created the book prize to recognize a nonfiction book that deeps our understanding of community. Last year the inaugural prize went to Peter Lovenheim for "In the Neighborhood: The Search for Community on an American Street, One Sleepover at a Time."

"Together" was selected from a shortlist of three books that also included "Is That A Fish In Your Ear: Translation and the Meaning of Everything" by David Bellos and "Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other" by Sherry Turkle.

Sennett, who has been both a chamber musician and a professor at the London School of Economics, spoke to Zócalo about his book.

I find the biggest misreading of what I’m trying to say is that cooperation is something that’s a moral choice, something you do because you’re such a nice person. That, it seems to me, is really to misunderstand how human societies get constituted, how people develop as children, and so on. If you moralize cooperation, if you say, “I’m a good person, so I cooperate,” you lose the richness of the thing — everything from cooperating on a sports team, in which you’re competing against other people, to warfare, in which people cooperate in order to survive. It loses the complexity of the subject.

Sennett will speak at an April 13 Zócalo event at the Museum of Contemporary Art on the topic "Can Diverse Societies Cohere?" Tickets to the event, which is sponsored by the Southern California Gas Co., are free.


Video lit: Ted Conover at Zocalo Public Square

Zocalo announces finalists for its first book prize

In our pages: Zócalo's 'hip-but-serious, civic-minded intellectualism'

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Best Translated Book Award finalists announced

Book covers

The longlist for the Best Translated Book Awards was announced Tuesday. Organized by the publisher Three Percent at the University of Rochester, the annual Best Translated Book Awards recognize the best works of fiction published in English but originally written another language.

Founded in 2007, the BTBA is notable in recognizing both author and translator in tandem. The 2012 BTBA longlist features authors from 14 countries writing in 12 languages. The author of the original work will receive $5,000 and its translator $5,000.

The BTBA will also recognize works of poetry in translation; the poetry finalists will be announced later this spring, on April 10, when the fiction shortlist is announced. The BTBA winners will be announced during the PEN World Voices Festival, which takes place April 30-May 6 in New York.

The fiction longlist is after the jump.

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2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists announced

What do Michael Ondaatje, Manning Marable and Stephen King have in common? They're all in the running for 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. The finalists -- five each, in 10 categories -- were announced Tuesday. The 32nd annual prizes will be awarded at a public ceremony April 20 at USC's Bovard Auditorium.

The Robert Kirsch Award for significant contribution to American letters will be presented to Rudolfo Anaya, it was also announced. Anaya's 1972 bestselling coming-of-age story, “Bless Me, Ultima,” is a seminal work of Chicano literature; in 2002, for this and subsequent books, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. 

Figment, a collaborative digital writing community for teens, will receive the third Innovator's Award. Its previous winners are writer and publisher Dave Eggers and Powell's Books.

Awards will be presented in current interest, fiction, first fiction, biography, history, mystery-thriller, science and technology, graphic novel, poetry and young adult literature. King's book about time travel and the JFK assassination, “11/22/63,” is in the running in the mystery-thriller category. His competition includes A.D. Miller's “Snowdrops,” which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Two National Book Award finalists are competing in the fiction category: Julie Otsuka's “The Buddha in the Attic” and Edith Pearlman's short story collection, “Binocular Vision.” Among the books they'll be facing is Michael Ondaatje's “The Cat's Table.”

For the second year in a row, veteran author Jim Woodring is a finalist in the graphic novel category. Woodring is the only graphic novelist to be a two-time finalist for the award, now in its third year.

The young adult category boasts 2004 National Book Award winner Pete Hautman for his latest, “The Big Crunch,” and Printz Award winner Libba Bray, for the book “Beauty Queens.”

The finalists for biography include Manning Marable, who died just days before his long-awaited “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” was published, and Alexandra Styron, who in “Reading My Father: A Memoir,” writes of her father William, best known for “Sophie's Choice.”

Other notable finalists include Bruce Smith in poetry, James Gleick in science and technology, Ioan Grillo in current interest, Adam Hochschild in history and Chad Harbach for first fiction. The complete list of finalists is after the jump.

The L.A. Times Book Prizes are awarded the night before the weekend's Festival of Books, which will take place at USC. Tickets for the Book Prizes ceremony will be available for purchase on March 26; check the Festival of Books website for details.

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2011 Nebula Award nominees announced


The nominees for the 2011 Nebula Awards for science fiction and fantasy writing were announced Monday. The winners will be chosen by active members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America; voting will run from March 1 to March 30.

The Nebula Awards pay particular attention to short fiction, with categories for novella, novelette and short story. The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Screen Presentation mixes film and television, so Martin Scorcese's 3-D "Hugo" (no relation to the Hugo science fiction awards) is going up against an episode of "Dr. Who" written by Neil Gaiman. In the running for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book is Franny Billingsley's "Chime," which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

The full list of nominees:

"Among Others," Jo Walton (Tor)
"Embassytown," China Miéville (Macmillan UK; Del Rey; Subterranean Press)
"Firebird," Jack McDevitt (Ace Books)
"God’s War," Kameron Hurley (Night Shade Books)
"Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti," Genevieve Valentine (Prime Books)
"The Kingdom of Gods," N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

“Kiss Me Twice,” Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s Science Fiction, June 2011)
“Silently and Very Fast,” Catherynne M. Valente (WFSA Press; Clarkesworld Magazine, October 2011)
“The Ice Owl,” Carolyn Ives Gilman (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November/December 2011)
“The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” Kij Johnson (Asimov’s Science Fiction, October/November 2011)
“The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary,” Ken Liu (Panverse Three, Panverse Publishing)
“With Unclean Hands,” Adam-Troy Castro (Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November 2011)

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National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medals announced


The White House announced the recipients of the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medals today. Poet Rita Dove (above) is the leading literary figure among the seven who will receive the National Medal of Arts, joining actor Al Pacino, singer Mel Tillis, painter Will Barnet, sculptor Martin Puryear, pianist André Watts, and creative arts patron Emily Rauh Pulitzer.

Rita Dove served as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993 to '95. Dove, born in 1952 in Ohio, received an MFA from the University of Iowa and published her first poetry collection in 1980. She won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for the collection "Thomas and Beulah." She teaches at the University of Virginia; her many accolades include a National Humanities Medal.

National Humanities Medals will be awarded to eight writers, including another poet, John Ashbery (pictured at the 2011 National Book Awards, where he was presented with the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters). The other winners are Kwame Anthony Appiah, critic Andrew Delbanco, historian Robert Darnton, musical scholar Charles Rosen, historian Teofilo Ruiz, literary scholar Ramón Saldívar, and Amartya Sen, a Nobel laureate in economics. After the jump, brief descriptions of their work.

President Obama will present the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medals at a White House to the above individuals, as well as arts organizations, at a ceremony on Monday, Feb. 13, streaming live at 1:45pm eastern.

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$100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award goes to Timothy Donnelly

TimothydonnellyClaremont Graduate University's $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award will be given to Timothy Donnelly for his book "The Cloud Corporation," originally published by independent poetry press Wave Books. The prize is one the poetry world's most substantial, and most prestigious. It is designed to a support a poet in mid-career.

Donnelly, who is teaching at Princeton this spring, is on the writing faculty at Columbia University. He lives in Brooklyn with his family. It took him seven years to complete "The Cloud Corporation."

"I’m among the many people in this country who have had to go into significant debt just to get by," Donnelly said after the award was announced. "All the anxiety in the book about the economy and the struggle to make ends meet isn’t just for effect -- it’s all very personal. This prize will give my family and me a measure of financial stability that would otherwise have taken a decade or more to achieve. But as true as all that is, it’s the honor of having had "The Cloud Corporation" chosen for this distinction that I really can’t wrap my head around."

In addition to the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, Claremont Graduate University has announced the winner of its Kate Tufts Discovery Award, which is presented to a poet for his or her debut collection. That will go to Katherine Larson for "Radical Symmetry," published by Yale University Press. Larson, who lives in Arizona with her family, has worked for a decade as a molecular biologist and field ecologist.

Previous winners of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award include Yusef Komunyakaa, Chase Twichell, Tom Sleigh, Matthea Harvey and Robert Wrigley.

The winners will be feted at an award ceremony in Claremont on April 19; author Maxine Hong Kingston will give special remarks.


$100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize accepting nominations

Chase Twichell to receive $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award

Nonagenarian wins $100,000 poetry prize

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Timothy Donnelly. Credit: The Poetry Foundation

Nobel Prize-winning Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska dies at 88


Nobel Prize-winning poet Wislawa Syzmborska died Wednesday at home in Krakow, Poland.

The 88-year-old poet had been afflicted with lung cancer, the Associated Press reported. Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski said on Twitter that her death was an "irreparable loss to Poland's culture."

When Szymborska was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1996, the committee cited her "for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality."

Szymborska published her first book of poetry in 1952; her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages. “I prefer the absurdity of writing poems to the absurdity of not writing poems,” she once said. 

Her last collection, "Here," was published in the U.S. in 2008. The poem "Greek Statue," our reviewer Dana Goodyear wrote, is "a piece that, in gently touching on the great lyric themes of time, death and art-making, shows Szymborska at her subtle best, finds the perfect metaphor for that pause. At once fleeting and frozen, the statue's torso, she writes, 'lingers/ and it's like a breath held with great effort,/ since now it must/ draw/ to itself/ all the grace and gravity/ of what was lost.' Her most skillful poems — think of them as broken friezes or bits that suggest rather than encompass the whole — do this same work."

In 1996, after the Nobel announcement, the Times' Warsaw bureau chief, Dean E. Murphy, spoke to Szymborska -- "a retiring woman with wispy gray hair who cherishes her solitude" -- about her work. "The award came as a surprise to Szymborska -- and most everyone else in Poland -- not because she is considered unworthy, but because her poetry speaks mostly to universal themes rather than the parochial political subjects that have distinguished Eastern European verse since World War II," he wrote. Selections from that Q&A follow.

Q: Is your poetry an expression of vanity?

A: If you mean, is it a form of exhibitionism, probably it is. I have never really thought about it seriously, but telling one's feelings to unknown people is a little bit like selling one's soul. On the other hand, it brings great happiness. All of us have sad things happen to us in our lifetimes. In spite of everything, when those terribly horrible things happen to a poet, he or she can at least describe them. There are other people who, in a way, are sentenced to live through such experiences in silence.

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National Book Critics Circle announces finalists for 2011 awards

The announcers at the NBCC Awards

The National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for its 2011 book awards at a public ceremony on Saturday in New York City. Two Southern California writers are among those up for the awards, which will be presented on March 8 in Manhattan.

"It Calls You Back," an intergenerational tale of life in and out of Los Angeles gangs by Luis Rodriguez, a follow-up to his classic memoir "Always Running," is among the finalists for autobiography. Jonathan Lethem, who holds the Roy E. Disney Chair in Creative Writing at Pomona College, is a finalist for his collection of critical essays, "The Ecstasy of Influence." Another finalist, the novel "Stone Arabia" by Dana Spiotta, is set in the San Fernando Valley.

Awards will be made in six categories: fiction, nonfiction, biography, autobiography, poetry and criticism. For 37 years, the National Book Critics Circle has annually presented awards to books of excellence. Previous winners include Cormac McCarthy, John Updike, John Ashberry, Jennifer Egan, Alex Ross, Roberto Bolano, Susan Sontag, Martin Amis and Junot Diaz.

The 30 2011 NBCC finalists include many who have been previously recognized for their work: two Pulitzer Prize winners, one winner of the Booker Prize, two previously NBCC award winners, and one author who has received the National Humanities Medal. Yet the NBCC board also recognized two debuts: Teju Cole's novel, "Open City," and "Pulphead," a collection of essays by John Jeremiah Sullivan.

L.A. Times book critic David L. Ulin and staff writer Carolyn Kellogg sit on the 24-member board of the National Book Critics Circle.

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Introducing the Hatchet Job of the Year Award

The first Hatchet Job of the Year Award is designed to celebrate the year's most elegantly cutting book review
Did Geoff Dyer's take on Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning "The Sense of an Ending" -- "excellent in its averageness!" -- cut it down to size? If so, was it the sharpest-tongued book review of the year?

That's what will be decided when the entirely subjective, only slightly mean-spirited Hatchet Job of the Year Award is announced on Feb. 7. This is the first year of the award, designed to celebrate the acid in a literary community that's become somewhat complacent, according to its organizers, the editors of the review aggregating website The Omnivore.

"Hatchet Job of the Year is a crusade against dullness, deference and lazy thinking," they write in their sassy manifesto. "It rewards critics who have the courage to overturn received opinion, and who do so with style."

Their attention is turned primarily to British book reviews. "The prize was supposed to be restricted to reviews that had appeared in British publications this year," The Omnivore editor Anna Baddeley wrote in an email to Jacket Copy. "However, we bent our own rules a little bit to allow the Geoff Dyer piece in."

The Hatchet Job of the Year Award will be judged by four British writers and editors. There are eight reviews -- all of which can be read at the award's website -- in the running:

Mary Beard on "Rome" by Robert Hughes, Guardian;

Geoff Dyer on "The Sense of an Ending" by Julian Barnes, New York Times;

Camilla Long on "With the Kisses of His Mouth" by Monique Roffey, Sunday Times;

Lachlan Mackinnon on "Clavics" by Geoffrey Hill, Independent;

Adam Mars-Jones on "By Nightfall" by Michael Cunningham, Observer;

Leo Robson on "Martin Amis: The Biography" by Richard Bradford, New Statesman;

Jenni Russell on "Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital" by Catherine Hakim, Sunday Times;

David Sexton on "The Bees" by Carol Ann Duffy, London Evening Standard;

Next year, the Hatchet Job of the Year Award may be open to American writers. Or maybe there should be an American division. Although Electric Literature's The Outlet has been lauding great book reviews with its monthly Critical Hit Awards, I can't think of any American venue that has a celebration of excellent hatchet jobs.

The first Hatchet Job of the Year Award will be given at the Coach & Horses in Soho in London. What's the prize? A year's supply of potted shrimp.


The NBCC's 30 Books in 30 Days

Poets drop out of T.S. Eliot Prize over politics

Egan beats Franzen in National Book Critics Circle fiction prize

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Left photo: Geoff Dyer. Credit: Graywolf Press

Right photo: Julian Barnes. Credit: Ellen Warner / Knopf


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