Fabulous Fiction Firsts #215

The Ice Princess** is economist-turned-novelist Camilla Lackberg's #1 bestseller in Sweden (pub. 2003) and the winner of 2008 Grand Prix de Littérature Policière for Best International Crime Novel . Ice Princess is the first of her novels to reach the US market.

Set in winter in the coastal town of Fjallbacka, Erica, a thirtysomething biographer returns to her hometown to deal with her parents' untimely death. On a whim, she visits her childhood friend Alex only to find her dead in the bathtub, in an apparent suicide. Alex's grieving parents and Erica's curiosity compel her to delve deep into Alex's past as well as her relationships. Working with a local police officer, Patrik, they uncover secrets and sordidness that the town folks would have preferred to stay buried under their glossy lifestyle and pristine landscape.

This will appeal to fans of Nordic crime fiction and psychological thrillers who prefer a strong female presence, especially those of Asa Larsson and other notable female writers such as Karin Alvtegen Karin Fossum, Mari Jungsted, and Helene Tursten.

** = starred reviews

Summer Books to Film

winter's bonewinter's bone

Winter's Bone is based on the novel by the Missouri writer Daniel Woodrell.

16-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive who skipped bail on charges of running a crystal meth lab, otherwise, she and her two young brothers will be turned out of their home. Living in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Ree learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But, as an unsettling revelation lurks, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any cost. (The New York Times review). Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. (Official trailer).

The Girl Who Played with Fire is the second filmed installment of Stieg Larsson's best-selling "Millennium Trilogy". Front and center this time is the enigmatic Lisbeth Salander. It follows up on her next nasty brush with the law and her heartbreaking backstory. Again, plenty of action and intrigue. (U.S. trailer).

Speaking of dragons...

Since Summer Reading's got some serious dragon power, I thought I'd mention a few teen fantasies. Great segue, huh?

The first is Robin McKinley's Newbery Medal winner, The Hero and the Crown, which was also an ALA Notable Book and ALA Best Book for Young Adults book. It tells the story of Aerin, a princess--and an outcast--who grows up to defeat dragons rather than become a queen. The story takes place in a land called Damar, and is a prequel to another of McKinley's Newbery winners, The Blue Sword. See? There was a dragon in that one.

Secondly, I'd like to mention the Books of Pellinor, written by Alison Croggon. The series is a quartet, and takes place is a civilization which Croggon tries to convince us once existed, sometime 10,000 years ago. She even includes fake citations, as if she were doing research in a library with its ancient manuscripts. The first book, The Naming, starts us off with the main character, Maerad, and her companion, Cadvan. The second continues their story, and the third focuses on her brother, Hem, and his mentor, Saliman. The fourth concludes with the siblings united, and working against evil. Unfortunately, there aren't really any dragons, though we do encounter some talking animals.

By the way, if you haven't seen them yet, check out the dragons in the Downtown Youth area, as well as at the West and Malletts Creek branches.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #213

the twinthe twin

The Twin, a debut novel by Gerbrand Bakker quietly beats out a number of seasoned writers and front runners (see the shortlist) to win the 2010 International Impac Dublin Literary Award - the largest and most international prize of its kind. It involves libraries from all corners of the globe, and is open to books written in any language.

When his twin brother Henk dies in a car accident, Helmer is obliged to return to the small family farm. He resigns himself to taking over his brother's role and spending the rest of his days working in the remote Dutch countryside. Now 37 years later, Helmer finally is able to move his invalid father so that he could make a home for himself. Then the woman once engaged to Henk appears and asks Helmer to take in her troubled eighteen-year-old son.

"Ostensibly a novel about the countryside, The Twin ultimately poses difficult questions about solitude and the possibility of taking life into one's own hands. It chronicles a way of life which has resisted modernity, a world culturally apart, and yet laden with familiar longing."

$31,000 of the $123,000 prize will go to David Colmer whose superb translation allows the novel's authentic voice to be heard by English readers.

NPR was first to recognize The Twin by placing it on a list of Best Foreign Fiction of 2009.

School Library Journal picked it as one of the Best Adult Books for High School Students 2009.

For the budding novelists out there, take heart. This is the third year in a row that a debut novel has won.

William Kentridge wins the Kyoto Prize

South American visual artist William Kentridge will receive the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy from the Inamori Foundation of Japan. The prize honors individuals who have made "significant contributions to the progress of science, the advancement of civilization, and the enrichment and elevation of the human spirit".

Mr. Kentridge is best known for his animated films about the history and social circumstances of postcolonial South Africa. The Foundation is most impressed with "his originality as an artist... His deep insights and profound reflections on the nature of human existences provide opportunities to consider fundamental issues that could face any individual in the world".

Mr. Kentridge's works are well represented in William Kentridge : five themes - the catalog published in conjunction with an exhibition held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and currently touring to 6 museums worldwide until fall 2011; and William Kentridge (2001).

Cozy Winners

Anybody who loves a good cozy mystery should check out the Agatha Award fiction winners!

The Agatha Awards celebrate mysteries written in the traditional style. This translates to more atmosphere and less of the graphic scenes you may find in a Noir or True Crime novel.

Fiction Winners (written in 2009):

Best Novel: A Brutal Telling by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)

Best First Novel: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (Delacorte Press)

Writers to Watch : 20 Under 40

It has been more than a decade since the magazine The New Yorker has published a “20 Under 40” list. The last one, in 1999, included some future literary stars who were then relatively unknown, like Jhumpa Lahiri, Nathan Englander, and Junot Díaz. (Relatively established authors like Michael Chabon, Jeffrey Eugenides, and David Foster Wallace were also on the earlier list.)

This year's list is gender-balanced : naming 10 men and 10 women. They are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 32; Chris Adrian, 39; Daniel Alarcón, 33; David Bezmozgis, 37; Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, 38; Joshua Ferris, 35; Jonathan Safran Foer, 33; Nell Freudenberger, 35; Rivka Galchen, 34; Nicole Krauss, 35; Yiyun Li, 37; Dinaw Mengestu, 31; Philipp Meyer, 36; C. E. Morgan, 33; Téa Obreht, 24; Z Z Packer, 37; Karen Russel, 28; Salvatore Scibona, 35; Gary Shteyngart, 37; and Wells Tower, 37.

The new list has its own distinctions. A significant number of the writers hail from outside the United States or have parents who do. All but two (Ms. Obreht and Ms. Russell) are in their 30s.

The process began in January, when editors in the fiction department started brainstorming. By e-mail they asked literary agents, publishers and other writers to suggest potential candidates.

The editors eventually whittled the possibilities down to a shortlist of roughly 40 eligible writers. A few prominent fiction writers, including Colson Whitehead and Dave Eggers, were slightly too old to make the cut. 20under4020under40

Recent Fiction Award Winners

In the past month or so, a few big awards have been announced in fiction in various genres. Paul Harding’s debut novel Tinkers won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. A New England clock repairer lies on his deathbed. The novel intertwines his final thoughts, with the memories of the death of his father, with an intricate look at life and death. Many star reviews for this eloquently written work. Apparently the book was rejected several times from publishers before being picked up.

John Hart’s The Last Child, won the 2010 Edgar Award for best novel, presented by the Mystery Writers of America. (This is the second Edgar in a row for Hart, as he also won it in 2008 for Down River.) In The Last Child, 12 year old Alyssa goes missing in rural North Carolina, and her twin brother Johnny is determined to find her. His family fell apart after the disappearance, a local officer is trying to solve the case, a year later another girl goes missing, and Johnny is convinced it was the same perpetrator. A well written stunner of a case.

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America awarded the 2009 Nebula Award for best novel to Paolo Bacigalupi for The Windup Girl. This debut novel is a tale of Bioterrorism in a post-petroleum future Thailand. Calories become currency and bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profit. Star reviews are all over the place for this book.
AwardsAwards

Author Amy Huntley Discusses Writing and Announces the Winners of the 2010 Teen Short Story Contest

amy huntleyamy huntley

We're celebrating the Finalists of the library's Teen Short Story Writing Contest with author Amy Huntley, who will discuss her work and announce the winners, at the Downtown Library, May 22, 1:30 - 3:00 pm. Amy's book The Everafter received a William Morris Award for best debut novel. We received 253 stories this year in grades 6 through 12. The stories are judged anonymously first by a panel of screeners, and then on to a slate of published authors. Feedback is always filled with praise about the creativity and expression of these stories and we applaud the courage and skill of all the writers' submissions.

Click here to read some stories from previous years.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #208

Winner of the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize, Miguel Syjuco's impressive debut Ilustrado*** (see definition) is most worthy of the buzz.

The panel of judges proclaimed it "brilliantly conceived and stylishly executed, ...ceaselessly entertaining, frequently raunchy, and effervescent with humor".

It begins with a body. On a clear day in winter, the battered corpse of Crispin Salvador is pulled from the Hudson River. Gone is the controversial lion of Philippine literature as well as is the only manuscript of his final book, a work meant to rescue him from obscurity by exposing the crimes of the Filipino ruling families.

Miguel, his student and only friend, embarks on a literary archeological dig - through Crispin's poetry, interviews, novels, polemics, and memoirs. The result is a rich and dramatic family saga, tracing 150 years of history of The Philippines. To our great surprise, the story bring us full circle to young Miguel.

"Exuberant and wise, wildly funny and deeply moving, Ilustrado explores the hidden truths that haunt every family. It is a daring and inventive debut by a new writer of astonishing talent."

Born in 1976 in Makati, Miguel Syjuco lived in many cities of the world since his undergraduate days at Ateneo de Manila University. With a master’s at Columbia University, PhD at the University of Adelaide (Australia), he currently lives in Montreal. He had worked in many jobs, from editor of a dotcom, bartender, apartment painter to powerseller of ladies’ designer handbags on eBay until February 2009 when he focused full time on his writing.

Readalike: Homecoming* by Bernhard Schlink - another epistolary novel about history, identity, deception, and discovery.

*** = starred reviews

Syndicate content