The 2013 National Book Award fiction longlist titles have been released

The National Book Foundation announced the National Book Award fiction longlist for 2013 this morning.

Included in this year's fiction longlist are:

Debut novelist, Anthony Marra for A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. In Chechnya in 2004, two doctors want to save the life of a little girl whose father has been captured by the Russians. Marra is no stranger to awards. He won last year's Whiting Writers' Award for emerging authors and a 2010 Pushcart Prize for his 2009 short story Chechnya.

Thomas Pynchon, who won a previous National Book Award (Gravity's Rainbow, 1974), is up for Bleeding Edge. Maxine Tarnow is a single mother of two and an unlicensed fraud investigator with her own renegade code-of-ethics. The dot.com bust has just happened, and 9/11 is about to shock the world, when she gets tangled up with a billionaire, her sorta ex-husband, the Russian mob, and some code monkeys. 477 pages of nail-biting thrills.

Also on the longlist is a short story collection, Tenth of December by MacArthur Fellow, George Saunders, as well as The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri who is also on the Man Booker Prize shortlist.

The complete list of titles on the fiction longlist may be found here.

The other longlist nominees in Young People's Literature, poetry, and nonfiction are listed here.

The shortlist of all categories will be announced on October 16th.

The winners will be announced on November 20th.

National Book Awards' nonfiction longlist for 2013 has been released

The lists just keep on rolling out from the National Book Awards.

Monday we had the young people's list. Yesterday, we learned of the poetry contenders.

Today, it's the nonfiction titles. Of the ten authors selected, nine are new to this honor. Among the contenders are:

Jill Lepore, who tells the story of Ben Franklin's impressive sister in Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin.

In Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields, Wendy Lower digs into the lives of half a million women Nazis who participated in the genocide.

Part of Alan Taylor's The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832, is his fascinating account of a group of Virginia slaves who boarded British warships and made a bargain -- in exchange for protection of their families, the slaves would share their extensive knowledge of Virginia to help England's war efforts.

For a complete list of nonfiction titles, check here.

Watch this space for release of the fiction titles.

All finalists will be announced on October 16th.

Winners will be announced on November 20th at the National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner.

Rollout of the 2013 National Book Awards' longlists has begun -- first up, Young People's Literature

The 2013 longlists from the National Book Awards began this morning with the release of ten candidates for the Young People's Literature category.

Kathi Appelt has been nominated for The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp. a fanciful tale of two raccoon brothers, who serve as an early warning system for a yeti living in the swamp and a 12 year old boy, who has to help his mother raise a lot of money to keep from being evicted. All parties join forces to hold at bay a developer determined to take over the swamp.

Kate DiCamillo was been tapped for Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. Illustrated by K.C. Campbell, Flora rescues Ulysses, a squirrel sucked into a powerful vacuum cleaner. Once revived, Ulysses dazzles with his ability to type fantastic poetry.

Meg Rosoff was chosen for Picture Me Gone. Mila, 12, is a mind reader. Her father needs all the help he can get to find his friend, missing in America, so he and Mila leave Londonf or upstate New York, where Mila realizes that all is not as it seems, starting with her father.

For the complete list of longlist titles, look here.

The longlists will continue to roll out this week. Poetry will be announced tomorrow; nonfiction on Wednesday, the 18th, and the fiction longlist titles will be revealed on Thursday, the 19th.

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, October 16th, when the shortlist titles are announced. Then on Wednesday, November 20th, we will learn the winners.

Man Booker 2013 Shortlist has been announced

The Man Booker Prize, one of the most prestigious literary prizes for more than 40 years, has released its shortlist for 2013.

The six authors on the shortlist are notably diverse. Per the requirements of the Man Book Prize, they are all citizens of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. They range in age from 28 (Eleanor Catton to 67 (Jim Crace. Catton, who splits her time between Canada and New Zealand, has written the longest book (The Luminaries -- on order -- is 540 pages). Veteran Irish author, Colm Toibin has produced the shortest -- The Testament of Mary is just 81 pages.

The Luminaries is a mystery set in New Zealand during that country's 1866 Gold Rush.

Toibin's short powerful novel imagines Mary's struggles with faith and grief in her later years, after Jesus' death.

Other contenders are NoViolet Bulawayo whose debut novel, We Need New Names, tracks the life of a 10 year old girl from Zimbabwe who moves in with her aunt in America, swapping abject poverty for shocking excess.

Jim Grace is enjoying his second appearance on the Man Booker shortlist with Harvest, a tale of the unraveling of pastoral calm in a British medieval farming community whose residents battle strangers, witchcraft and each other. His first foray into Man Booker Shortlist territory was in 1998 for Quarantine (1997).

For the complete list of shortlist contenders, check here.

The winner, who will receive the £50,000 prize, will be announced on October 15th.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #423 - Paris, any which way you can, but be very afraid

In Sarah Bruni's engaging debut The Night Gwen Stacy Died *, 17-year-old Sheila Gower has plans. She is moving to Paris. Misunderstood at home by her working-class family and a loner at school, she works at a small-town (Iowa) gas station where she conscientiously practices her conversational French aloud. She is attracted to the oddball cab-driver named Peter Parker, who stops in for cigarettes, and is intrigued when Peter begins to regard her as the fictional character's (Spider-Man) first girlfriend, Gwen Stacy. One night, Peter shows up with a gun...

In this "unusual and inventive love story,.. two lost souls hold the key to each other's salvation". "(F)iercely smart and delectably unpredictable...A genuine page-turner." ~ Kathryn Davis.

"Rough with dark psychology, rich with introspection and emotion, this beautifully written book will appeal to fans of Spider-Man comics as well as coming-of-age fiction."

Winner of the prestigious 2013 Crime Writers Association International Dagger Award, Pierre Lemaître's Alex * * (the first in a trilogy and his first novel to be translated into English) which the judges praised as having "(a)n original and absorbing ability to leash incredulity..., is (a) police procedural, a thriller against time, a race between hunted and hunter, and a whydunnit, written from multiple points of view..."

30-year-old Alex Prévost spots a man who clearly has been following her. That night, Alex is grabbed on a Paris street and thrown into a white van. She is savagely beaten, suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse in a tiny wooden cage filled with rats (an updated version of torture favored at the time of Louis XVI).

Meanwhile, apart from a shaky eyewitness report of the abduction, Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven has nothing to go on: no suspect, no leads, and no family or friends anxious to find a missing loved one. He knows from bitter experience (in a heartbreaking backstory) the urgency of finding the missing woman but as he uncovers the details, Camille is forced to acknowledge that the person he seeks is no ordinary victim, thus setting the investigation off in an equally disturbing direction.

Expect plenty more twists and surprises that will keep you at the edge of your seat and the pages turning. And if you have a strong stomach and nerves of steel, may I also suggest Maegan Beaumont's Carved in Darkness* ? Another FFF, and first in a projected series, set in SF, that boasts "pulse-pounding terror, graphic violence and a loathsome killer". Be very very afraid...

* = starred review
* * = starred reviews

Frederik Pohl, one of the grand masters of science fiction, has died

Frederik Pohl, winner of the trifecta of science fiction awards (Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell awards), has died.

Pohl, born in New York City in 1919, was one of the most prolific writers of science fiction ever. In the 1930s, he belonged to a science fiction writers club, whose members called themselves the Futurians. Some of those in the group were C.M. Kornbluth, Isaac Asimov, and James Blish.

While he was writing in the 1940s and 1950s, he started a literary agency to put support his growing family. Some of the writers he represented were John Wyndham, Robert Sheckley, and Fritz Leiber. His first published effort, The Space Merchants, 1953), was the first of many collaborations with science fiction giant, C.M. Kornbluth (see above).

Pohl won multiple Nebulas, Hugos, and John W. Campbell awards, the three biggies in the science fiction world. His 1979 novel, Gateway, won all three.

His short story, Fermi and Frosty (1985), which appears in the anthology, Platinum Pohl: The Collected Stories (2005), won the 1986 Short Story Hugo.

Pohl's interests were not restricted to the science fiction world. He was passionate about politics and the environment. He and Asimov collaborated on Our Angry Earth in 1991. Nine years later, he published Chasing Science: Science as Spectator Sport.

Mr. Pohl, who was 93, died yesterday,

David Frost, journalist and broadcaster, has died

David Frost, a journalist and former BBC broadcaster, most famous for his interview with the newly resigned former President, Richard M. Nixon, died yesterday.

Frost, who was born in Tenterden, England, first came to the public eye with a poltical satire show that many felt was the forerunner of Jon Stewart's The Daily Show. That Was the Week That Was (a.k.a TW3) only ran for two seasons. It was cancelled when worries increased that its pointed humor would influence an upcoming election. In 1964, the U.S. picked up TW3, and kept Mr. Frost as its host.

Mr. Frost conducted many interviews with well-known political figures but it was his 1977 marathon interviews with disgraced former President Richard Nixon which brought him front-and-center to international fame. Mr. Frost always referred to those interviews as the highlight of his career.

Seven years ago, Mr. Frost accepted a job with Al Jazeera America, hosting The Frost Interview. It was scheduled to run through mid-September 2013.

Sir David, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1993, was the only person to interview the seven U.S. Presidents before the 2008 election of President Obama -- Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush). He also was the only journalist to interview the eight British prime ministers between 1964 and 2010.

Known for his grace, intelligence, and gift for extracting newsmaking quotes from his subjects, Sir David received many awards, including two Emmys, a Royal Television Society Silver Medal, and a 2005 fellowship from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

Sir David, who was 74, died of a heart attack aboard the Queen Elizabeth, where he was to give a speech.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #421 - "I see your face in every flower, your eyes in stars above ..."

Sarah Butler's Ten Things I've Learnt about Love * is the interwoven story of Alice and Daniel. It is a story about finding love in unexpected places, about rootlessness and homecoming, and the power of the ties that bind.

Alice, the youngest of three daughters, rushes from Mongolia to her father's London home just in time to say goodbye. Never close to any of her family, she is drawn to solitary travel and an unconventional career. Daniel is homeless, wandering the streets of London, making sculptures out of found objects. As his health is failing, he is kept alive by the knowledge that he has a daughter somewhere in the world from a long ago affair with a married woman.

The narrative alternates between Alice's and Daniel's perspectives as both struggle with self-forgiveness—. Unbeknownst to each other, they are both fond of creating "Top 10 Lists".

"Spare language and an atmosphere of foreboding will keep readers on tenterhooks. Whimsy and pathos, artfully melded."

Longlisted for the Orange Prize, Anna Stothard's (Oxford) "gritty but elegant U.S. debut" The Pink Hotel is also a New York Times Review Editors' Choice.

An unnamed seventeen-year-old girl pieces together the mystery of her mother Lily's life and death among the seedy bars and bedrooms half a world away from her father's London home. At the raucous and drug-fueled wake, held at a boutique hotel on Venice Beach (CA), she walks off with an old suitcase stuffed with Lily's clothes, letters, and photographs, as she begins an emotional scavenger hunt, trying to piece together the woman who abandoned her years ago, and finds unexpected love along the way.

"Told with high style and noirish flare, The Pink Hotel is a powerfully evocative debut novel about wish fulfillment, reckless impulse, and how we discover ourselves.

Award-winning British YA and children's author Sophie McKenzie makes her US debut with her first psychological thriller for adults Close My Eyes.

Geniver Loxley has never gotten over losing her daughter, a stillborn eight years ago while rounds of fertility treatment have failed. One day, a woman knocks on her door and claims that her daughter is alive, having been taken away as a healthy infant, and worse yet, her husband Art, successful and powerful, is in on the scheme. Reeling from the shocking news she turns to free-spirited Lorcan, an old colleague of Art's. As the two investigate, they discover some shocking secrets that put their lives in jeopardy.

However, nothing will prepare the reader for the chilling epilogue, a dark and twisted scenario that is the definite high point of the novel. So consider yourself warned.

* = starred review

Elmore Leonard, crime writer extraordinaire, has died

Elmore Leonard, longtime Michigan resident who captivated his readers for years, died this morning in his beloved Detroit.

Born in New Orleans in 1925, he started out as a writer of western fiction. One of his earliest (1953) westerns, 3:10 to Yuma, was the first of many of his novels to be made into a movie. In the case of Yuma, both the 1957 original release, starring Van Heflin and Glenn Ford and the 2007 remake, with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, were popular.

Once westerns reached their peak in the early 1960s, Leonard stuck with his copywriting career which had funded his writing since the 1950s. Then in 1965, his agent sold the film rights to Hombre(1961) (on order) which was released two years later, starring Paul Newman and Fredric March.

With the money from that sale, Leonard switched gears and began writing one entertaining, suspenseful crime novel after another, many of which, again, were optioned into movies. First up was The Big Bounce, 1969, which hit the the silver screen in 1969 and again with the remake in 2004.

Get Shorty, the movie (John Travolta and Rene Russo, 1995), was based on his 1990 novel by the same name.

In all, more than two dozen Elmore Leonard novels got the Hollywood treatment.

Critics and fans adored his books, marveling at his gift for dialog and spare storytelling. On July 16, 2001, Leonard wrote an article for the New York Times. In WRITERS ON WRITING; Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle, he laid out his ten rules for writing which have become revered guidelines ever since.

Elmore Leonard was the recipient of multiple awards, including a couple of Edgars, a Peabody, and the Owen Wister Award.In addition he had honorary PhDs from The University of Michigan, Florida Atlantic University and University of Detroit Mercy.

Mr, Leonard, who had suffered a stroke on July 29th of this year, was 87 years old.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #420 - Sugar 'n spice and everything nice?

Well, I'll let you be the judge. But seriously, 2 phenomenal debuts from across the pond, with unforgettable young protagonists, not to be missed.

A published poet, and one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists Jenni Fagan knocked it out of the park with her dazzling The Panopticon * *, which has been named one of the best books of the year by the Times Literary Supplement and The Scotsman.

Anais Hendricks, 15 is headed for the Panopticon, the much dreaded last-resort for chronic young offenders after she is found covered with the blood of a police officer. Violent, "permanently whacked on...drug(s)", and the product of foster homes (23 before she turned 7), she is a survivor and a counter-culture outlaw. Though experience taught her to only rely on herself, she finds a sense of belonging among the residents of the Panopticon, and soon forms strong bonds with the other troubled teens. Their struggle is with their keepers, especially when Anais is convinced she is part of a sinister experiment.

"Dark and disturbing but also exciting and moving thanks to a memorable heroine and vividly atmospheric prose."

"Anais's story is one of abandonment, loss, and redemption."

2013 Thriller Award nominee for Best Paperback Original Novel, Alex Marwood's (the pseudonym of a successful journalist) debut The Wicked Girls * * * is "(a) gritty, psychological thriller that asks the question: How well can you know anyone?"

On a fateful summer morning in 1986, 11 year-olds Jade Walker and Annabel (Bel) Oldacre meet for the first time. By the end of the day, they will both be charged with murder. Journalist Kirsty Lindsay, while following leads on a series of attacks on young female tourists in a seaside vacation town comes face to face with Amber Gordon, now a janitor for a carnival where the most recent crime is committed. This is their first meeting in 25 years after spending years in two separate British correctional facilities.

Kirsty and Amber, with new, vastly different lives, and unknowing families to protect, are desperate to keep their wicked secret hidden, and to uphold their probationary condition never to have contact with each other.

Marwood intersperses the contemporary serial-killer story line and hour-by-hour accounts of what happened the day the girls met 25 years ago. "This chilling debut is chock-full of surprises. If Tana French and Gillian Flynn stayed up all night telling stories at an abandoned amusement park, this is awfully close to what they might come up with."

"Gripping and fast-paced", it will appeal to fans of the Academy Award-nominated film Heavenly Creatures and the novels of Rosamund Lupton and Chevy Stevens."

"A suspenseful, buzz-worthy novel offering a sure-footed depiction of two women who lost their childhoods."

* * * = starred reviews
* * = starred reviews

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