2011 William C. Morris Debut YA Award

WIlliam C. Morris Debut YA AwardWIlliam C. Morris Debut YA Award

The William C. Morris YA Debut Award honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.

2011 Winner
The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston
Suffering from a crippling case of post-traumatic stress disorder, sixteen-year-old Loa Lindgren tries to use her problem solving skills, sharpened in physics and computer programming, to cure herself.

2011 Finalists
Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

Hush by Eishes Chayil

2011 Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults

YALSA Excellence in Young Adult NonfictionYALSA Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction

Winners of the best nonfiction published for teens between November 1, 2010 – October 31, 2011 are:

2011 Winner
Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing by Ann Angel
Forty years after her death, Janis Joplin remains among the most compelling and influential figures in rock history. Her story is one of a girl who struggled against rules and limitations, yet worked diligently to improve as a singer.

2011 Finalists
The Dark Game: True Spy Stories by Paul Janeczko

Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discoveries, Deductions, and Debates by Jill Rubalcaba and Peter Robertshaw

Spies of Mississippi: The True Story of the Spy Network that Tried to Destroy the Civil Rights Movement by Rick Bowers

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

2011 Printz Award winners

Printz MedalPrintz Medal

The following Printz titles were announced at ALA Midwinter in San Diego:

2011 Printz Award Medal
Ship Breaker by Paola Bacigalupi
In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.

2011 Printz Honor books:
Nothing by Janne Teller

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Revolver by Marcus Sedgewick

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #233

It's that time of year again and time for small gems.

Most appropriate to ring in the new year is François Lelord's Hector and the Search for Happiness, a charming parable about modern life.

Young psychiatist Hector travels the world over while keeping a list of observations about the people he meets, hoping to find the secret to happiness. At once entertaining and empowering, it combines the winsome appeal of The Little Prince with the inspiring philosophy of The Alchemist.

A former postdoc at UCLA, Francois Lelord is a psychiatrist who has worked in Paris, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City. Hector and the Search for Happiness is his first novel, and the first in a series that includes Hector and the Search for Love and Hector and the Meaning of Time.

Brief and yet powerful, the 2008 winner of the Zerilli-Marimò Prize for Italian Fiction, Milena Agus' debut novel (her first to be translated into English) From the Land of the Moon* * chronicles the life and fortunes of a Sardinian woman as she struggles mightily to find happiness in the traditional island village she calls home.

"Agus' beautifully written tale allows room for a lovely ambiguity. The vivid descriptions of the Sardinian landscape are a fitting complement to the heroine's conflicted heart". A lush, haunting portrait of an artist born before her time.

* * = starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #232

Now for a change of pace...

Liar, Liar* * introduces P.I. Cat DeLuca and her Pants on Fire Detective Agency, known around the Windy City for its stellar reputation in catching cheaters, guaranteeing her clients evidence that would bring large divorce settlements.

Life takes a strange turn when a rogue reporter for the Chicago Tribune masquerades as a client with a liar-liar husband - one Chance Savino, a steamy guy with a pocketful of smuggled diamonds. When the FBI insists that Savino is killed in the same explosion that sends Cat to the hospital, Cat isn’t buying it. And when she finds her client dead on the floor with a knife in her chest and Savino rummaging through the apartment, she not only has to convince her family and the FBI she is not crazy, she has to get herself off the murderer's "Must Kill" list.

Debut author K.J. Larsen is in truth, Julianne, Kristen and Kari Larsen, three sisters who are hard at work on the next Cat adventure.

Liar has been picked as one of Library Journal Best Books 2010 Genre Fiction. Hey, Stephanie Plum, you have been warned. Cat is moving in.

* * = Starred reviews

Tom Waits Elected to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The gravel voiced, neo-Beat, saintly gutter rat, utterly inimitable, Tom Waits, will be joining the likes of Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Chuck Berry and other music lifers in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Waits' response to the news, according to Rolling Stone magazine, "I am still recovering...I never really cared about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...but now I am surprised to discover how much I DO care. I'm wondering if I did something wrong?" is prototypical Waitsian rhetoric. His acceptance speech should be nothing short of fine satirical comedy.

Beginning his career in the early 1970s as a piano playing, blues singer/songwriter, Waits long celebrated the social ladder's lowest rungs in his songs, and he lived a life not far from his muse. For the first decade of his career, Waits added increasingly idiosyncratic characters to his stories, in songs like "Frank's Wild Years", "The Ghosts of Saturday Night", and "Small Change", though his biggest successes came as more famous artists covered his songs, with Springsteen doing "Jersey Girl" and Rod Stewart doing "Downtown Train".

In the mid-1980s, Waits met his wife, Kathleen Brennan, who inspired a new approach to songwriting, with the inclusion of non-traditional instrumentation including trombone, kettle drum, and other percussive instruments that often sound like they might well have been his own creation. The result was his most creative period, producing the landmark Rain Dogs and Swordfishtrombones and continuing through his more recent work in the Grammy Award winning Bone Machine and my personal favorite, Mule Variations. Also check out the sprawling three disc set of absurdly good b-sides from this period, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, & Bastards, released in 2006.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #228

It is not everyday that a debut novel is named as a finalist in these many awards:

- 2009 Governor General's Literary Awards for Fiction
- 2010 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book (Canada & Caribbean)
- 2010 Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award
- 2010 Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award - Fiction Book of the Year

WINNER of the 2009 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, Annabel Lyon's The Golden Mean * does not disappoint.

"You must look for the mean between extremes, the point of balance," Aristotle advises his royal pupil, the future military genius in this bold reimagining of one of history’s most intriguing relationships: between legendary philosopher Aristotle and Alexander the Great, the rebellious son of his boyhood friend Philip of Macedon.

Told in the brilliantly rendered voice of Aristotle - keenly intelligent, often darkly funny, The Golden Mean brings ancient Greece to vivid life via the story of this remarkable friendship between them.

"But before this impressively researched, vividly detailed novel settles into a contest of wits and wills between determined teacher and often unmanageable student, Lyon builds a fascinating portrait of the Athenian sage " - a sensualist gratified and enthralled by the world's often inexplicable plentitude, emphatically earthbound in his affection for the bewitching Pythias; or in awakening the potential for rationality in Alexander's seemingly mentally retarded older brother Arrhidaeus (perhaps the novel's most sympathetic character).

"As authoritative and compelling as Mary Renault's renowned novels set in the ancient world. One hopes we may learn more about Lyon's immeasurably brilliant, unflappably human Aristotle."

* = starred review

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #226

The Blindness of the Heart*** is Julia Franck's English language debut (translated from the German by Anthea Bell), - a rich, moving, and complex novel from one of Europe's freshest young voices.

Winner of the German Book Prize (2007) and a finalist for the 2010 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, it opens in 1945 with a young mother named Helene standing with her seven-year-old son in a provincial German railway station, amid the chaos of civilians fleeing west. Having survived with him through the horror and deprivation of the war years, Helene abandons her son on the station platform and never returns.

The story quickly circles back to Helene's childhood with her sister Martha in rural Germany at the outbreak of the First World War. As we follow Helene into adulthood, we watch as the costs of survival and ill-fated love turn her into a woman capable of the unforgiveable.

"Franck's impressionistic style and empathy encourage fresh responses to familiar subject matter—fine, disturbing, memorable work." ~Kirkus Reviews. Readers interested in character-driven war stories lyrical and spare, might find much to like in Chronicle in Stone by Ismail Kadare, translated from the Albanian.

*** = starred reviews (Read the New York Times review)

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #223


How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe* is NOT, a how-to manual. Author Charles Yu a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award winner (for his short story collection Third Class Superhero) delivers his debut novel, a razor-sharp, ridiculously funny, and utterly touching story of a son searching for his father . . . through quantum space-time.

Minor Universe 31 is a vast story-space on the outskirts of fiction, where paradox fluctuates like the stock market, lonely sexbots beckon failed protagonists, and time-travel is serious business. Every day, people get into time machines and try to do the one thing they should never do: change the past. That’s where Charles Yu, time travel technician—part counselor, part gadget repair man—steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally.

When he’s not taking client calls, Yu visits his mother (stuck in a onehour cycle, she makes dinner over and over and over) and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. Accompanied by TAMMY, an operating system with low self-esteem, and a nonexistent but ontologically valid dog named Ed, and using a book titled How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe as his guide, Yu sets out, and back, and beyond, in order to find the one day where he and his father can meet in memory.

"A fascinating, philosophical and disorienting thriller about life and the context that gives it meaning."

Critics are comparing Yu to Mark Danielewski and an early Douglas Adams. Don't miss this one.

* = Starred review

Howard Jacobson stuns the literary world with his 2010 Man Booker win

Howard Jacobson stuns the literary world with his 2010 Man Booker winHoward Jacobson stuns the literary world with his 2010 Man Booker win

Howard Jacobson, the London author who was twice longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, pulled off a stunning literary coup by capturing the prestigious award for The Finkler Question (on order). He beat out the heavily favored Tom McCarthy, who wrote C.

The Finkler Question looks at Judaism today through the eyes of three men without women who find safety in their friendship as they try to figure out course-corrections. Jacobson fans, who loved his humor and gorgeous writing in such novels as last year's The Act of Love and the longlisted Kalooki Nights (2006), will not be disappointed.

Jacboson received his £50,000 check last night at an awards dinner at London's Guildhall which was broadcast by the BBC.

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