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Showing posts from November, 2018

The 2018 National Book Awards

Established in 1950, the National Book Award has become America's premier literary prize. In 2018, publishers submitted 1,637 books for consideration to the panels of literary experts judging this year's awards: 368 in fiction, 546 in Nonfiction, 256 in poetry, 142 in translated literature (a revitalized category that last appeared in 1983) and 325 in young people's literature. A longlist of ten books per category was announced in the middle of September, and a shortlist of five books per category was announced on October 10th. The winners were announced on Wednesday, November 14th during a black-tie ceremony hosted by actor and author Nick Offerman at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. The award for nonfiction went to The New Negro: The Life of Alan Locke by Jeffrey Stewart. The poetry award was won by Justin Phillip Reed for Indecency. The award for translated literature went to The Emissary by Yoko Tawada, translated by Margaret Mitsutani. Elizabeth Acevado receive…

Thursday Night Book Club -- November, 2018

The plan had been that the Thursday Night Book Club would gather one week before Thanksgiving to discuss Anne Tyler's 1985 novel The Accidental Tourist. But Winter Storm Avery had other plans for us last Thursday night. The snow and the wind from the storm made driving conditions hazardous, and the library closed at 7 pm. As a result, the Thursday Night Book Club missed the opportunity to gather together to talk about Anne Tyler's wonderful novel.
Winner of the 1985 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and made into a movie starring William Hurt, Gina Davis and Kathleen Turner, The Accidental Tourist is the story of Macon Leary, a travel writer who hates to travel and who writes guidebooks that make the traveler feel as if he had never left home. "Other travelers hoped to discover distinctive local wines; Macon's readers searched for pasteurized and homogenized milk." After an unsettled early childhood, Macon and …

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Over the past few months, I have spent a significant percentage of my free time reading the literary fiction titles published this fall that have generated the most pre-publication buzz. That has made for a fair amount of good reading, some disappointing reading and a little bit of truly great reading. Of the many works of fiction I've read since Labor Day, my current favorite (subject to change because I've just started Tana French's The Witch Elm, and it's GOOD) is Barbara Kingsolver's newest novel Unsheltered.


Barbara Kingsolver was born in 1955 and was raised in rural Kentucky. She earned degrees in biology from DePauw University and the University of Arizona and has been a full-time writer since 1985.  Kingsolver is the author of 15 works of fiction and nonfiction. She published her first novel, The Bean Trees, in 1988. The Poisonwood Bible was an Oprah Book Club pick, won the National Book Award of South Africa and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The …

The 2018 Man Booker Prize

I know, I know, this post is two weeks overdue. The winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize was announced at just before 10 pm UK time on Tuesday, October 16th. And I should have submitted something about this significant 2018 literary event to the blog later that week (at the latest). But I was busy with the Thursday Night Book Club, and then with the finale of The Great American Read, which is to say that other great literary things were happening that took some precedence. So it only now that I am getting around to telling you (in case you don't already know) that the winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize is Milkman by Anna Burns.

Anna Burns was born in Belfast in 1962.  She grew up as one of seven siblings in a working-class, Catholic family. Because of their cramped living quarters, Burns lived with an unmarried aunt on the other side of the street. "I had the rowdiness of home and then I could withdraw to my aunt's quiet house. I liked that mix," Burns said in a rec…