The 2017 PEN America Literary Awards Longlist Is Here

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Rion Amilcarr Scott

On Friday December 9th, PEN America announced the books longlisted for 2017 PEN America Literary Awards. Finalists will be named on January 18, 2017, and winners on February 22nd, in advance of the awards ceremony on March 27th at The New School’s Tishman Auditorium in New York. Here they are:
PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000): For a fiction writer whose debut work represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.

*Insurrections: Stories by Rion Amilcar Scott

*We Show What We Have Learned by Clare Beams

*The Mothers by Brit Bennett

*The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang

*When Watched: Stories by Leopoldine Core

*Hide by Matthew Griffin

*Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

*Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

*Hurt People by Cote Smith

*Wreck and Order by Hannah Tennant-Moore
PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays that exemplifies the dignity and esteem of the essay form.

*The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood by Belle Boggs

*Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole

*Against Everything by Mark Greif

*A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and The Mind by Siri Hustvedt

*The Girls in My Town by Angela Morales

*Soul at the White Heat by Joyce Carol Oates

*Becoming Earth by Eva Saulitis

*Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter by Peter Singer

*Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change by Andrew Solomon

*Hungry Heart by Jennifer Weiner

 

PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction($10,000): For a distinguished book of general nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective.

*Drinking in America: Our Secret History by Susan Cheever

*Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

*White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg

*Strangers Drowning: Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Urge to Help by Larissa MacFarquhar

*Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips

*Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones

*The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andrés Reséndez

*The Train to the Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II by Jan Jarboe Russell

*Children of Paradise: The Struggle for the Soul of Iran by Laura Secor

*Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship by Anjan Sundaram
PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000): For a book of literary nonfiction on the subject of the physical or biological sciences.

*The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman

*What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins by Jonathan Balcombe

*Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets by Luke Dittrich

*Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight over Controlling Nature by Jordan Fisher Smith

*Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History by Dan Flores

*How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of a Private Spaceflight by Julian Guthrie

*Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

*The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

*The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel

*The Dragon Behind the Glass: A True Story of Power, Obsession, and the World’s Most Coveted Fish by Emily Voigt
PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): For a nonfiction book on the subject of sports.

*Boys Among Men: How the Prep-to-Pro Generation Redefined the NBA and Sparked a Basketball Revolution by Jonathan Abrams

*American Pharoah: The Untold Story of the Triple Crown Winner’s Legendary Rise by Joe Drape

*The Last Innocents: The Collision of the Turbulent Sixties and the Los Angeles Dodgers by Michael Leahy

*Catching the Sky by Colten Moore with Keith O’Brien

*Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA by Joe Nocera and Ben Strauss

*Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre by Jeff Pearlman

*Playing Through the Whistle: Steel, Football, and an American Town by S.L. Price

*Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcom X by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith

*Fastpitch: The Untold History of the Softball and the Women Who Made the Game by Erica Westly

*Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop and Street Basketball by Onaje X.O. Woodbine
PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in the United States.

*Jean Cocteau: A Life by Claude Arnaud, translated from the French by Lauren Elkin and Charlotte Mandell

*A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century by Jerome Charyn

*Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin

*Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman

*Black Elk: The Life of an American Visionary by Joe Jackson

*A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley by Jane Kamensky

*Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer by Arthur Lubow

*Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White by Michael Tisserand

*American Luthier: Carleen Hutchins–The Art and Science of the Violin by Quincy Whitney

*Louise Nevelson: Light and Shadow by Laurie Wilson
PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional work of literature by an author of color.

*Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett

*Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt by Yasmine El Rashidi

*The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah

*The Big Book of Exit Strategies by Jamaal May

*Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

*What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

*Look by Solmaz Sharif

*Problems by Jade Sharma

*Cannibal by Safiya Sinclair

*Blackacre: Poems by Monica Youn
PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English.

*Confessions by Rabee Jaber, translated from the Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid

*The Fox Was Ever the Hunter by Herta Muller, translated from the German by Philip Boehm

*Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was by Sjón, translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb

*Between Life and Death by Yoram Kaniuk, translated from the Hebrew by Barbara Harshav

*One Hundred and Twenty-One Days by Michèle Audin, translated from the French by Christiana Hills

*Angel of Oblivion by Maja Haderlap, translated from the German by Tess Lewis

*Justine by Iben Mondrup, translated from the Danish by Kerri A. Pierce

*The Explosion Chronicles by Yan Lianke, translated from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas

*The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith

*Limbo Beirut by Hilal Chouman, translated from the Arabic by Anna Ziajka Stanton

 

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English.

*Pearl: A New Verse Translation, translated from the Middle English by Simon Armitage

*Abyss by Ya Hsien, translated from the Chinese by John Balcom

*Voronezh Notebooks by Osip Mandelstam, translated from the Russian by Andrew Davis

*Building the Barricade by Anna Swir, translated from the Polish by Piotr Florczyk

*Algaravias by Waly Salomão, translated from the Portuguese by Maryam Monalisa Gharavi

*Preludes and Fugues by Emmanuel Moses, translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker

*Tales of Ise, translated from the Japanese by Peter MacMillan

*In Praise of Defeat by Abdellatif Laâbi, translated from the French by Donald Nicholson Smith

*Absolute Solitude by Dulce Maria Loynaz, translated from the Spanish by James O’Connor

*Twenty Girls to Envy Me: Selected Poems from Orit Gidali by Orit Gidali, translated from the Hebrew by Marcela Sulak
The recipients of the following awards will be announced on March 27, 2017:

*PEN/Jean Stein Book Award ($75,000): For a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact.

*PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature ($50,000): To a writer of any genre for his or her body of work.

*PEN/Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History ($10,000): For an unpublished literary work of nonfiction that uses oral histor to illuminate an event, individual, place, or movement.

*PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Awards ($7,500 & $2,500): Three awards which honor a Master American Dramatist, American Playwright in Mid-Career, and Emerging American Playwright.

*PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): For a writer whose body of work represents an exceptional contribution to the field.

Bob Dylan Won the Nobel Prize in Literature!

bob-dylan-wins-nobel-prize-in-literature_via-nobel_peoplewhowriteOur cultural definition of literature has officially been blown wide open with the Swedish Academy’s award of the Nobel Prize in Literature to songwriter Bob Dylan. Past prizes have recognized essayists, playwrights, poets, novelists, and writers of various genres of non-fiction prose, but this is the first time the Nobel has been awarded to an artist primarily known for writing songs.

The Swedish Academy awards lifetime achievement in six categories–Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Medicine, Peace, and Economic Sciences–evidently using “Literature” as a catchall for all arts and letters genres, while approaching the sciences with a bit more nuance. This reading of Literature in the broadest sense has sparked confusion, derision, and appreciation at the inclusion of an artist most people have heard of.

@n_martinsson tweeted: “Probably the first time I have works of this years Nobel Prize winner in my Bookshelf.” @chrispbone added: “Bob Dylan, imma let you finish, but Geri Halliwell wrote some of the best songs of all time.” @sabrinajeria wrote: “Nothing against Dylan but it’s a shame so many incredibly deserving novelists were overlooked.” The Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, and British Indian author Salman Rushdie had been among a shortlist of rumored frontrunners for the prize.

We’ll have to wait and see how the Academy’s honor of a non-traditional literary life will impact the tastes of acquiring editors at the publishing houses, but with venues for consuming literature changing by the minute–see Wally Lamb’s plans to release his upcoming sixth novel via an app, Beyonce’s collaboration with Warsan Shire on her album Lemonade which led to a sales spike and widespread recognition for the Somali poet, and Aziah King‘s viral twitter tale of a stripper’s wild weekend in Florida–our collective understanding of what literature is will continue to expand. Not to mention the fact that telecommunications companies are expressing interest in adding literature to the content they serve up to subscribers.

These developments open up the possibilities for how literature can be experienced and expand what readers will expect from their literary content. This expansion will eventually reflect in the work editors publish.

It’s already evident in the literary prize landscape. The Goldsmiths Prize was founded in 2013 specifically to “encourage more risk-taking among novelists, editors and agents alike,” with Goldsmiths creative writing professor Blake Morrison observing, “There’s an idea that innovative and genre-busting books are bound to be inaccessible. We don’t believe that’s the case.”

Writers like Eleanor CattonTeju Cole , and Zadie Smith have also been interrogating traditional forms and experimenting with new ways to tell compelling stories for some time now. Catton won the 2013 Man Booker Prize for her novel The Luminaries which was in excess of 800 pages and chronologically structured around zodiac signs. Likewise, Cole has been lauded for his literary use of Twitter (I love his seven short stories about drones), as well as the stream of consciousness style of his 2011 novel Open City.

The Guardian‘s review of Smith’s 2012 novel NW noted “The whole of the first section is defined by its resistance to genre…” The Washington Post review further explained:

Each of the four sections of “NW” demonstrates a different form. There’s no second-person narrator or anything as weird as a PowerPoint presentation, but the longest part of “NW” is divided into 185 short, numbered sections, ranging from straightforward narrative to menu items, quiz answers, IM chats and even stage directions. I sympathize if you have no patience for this sort of experimentation, which can seem so graspingly avant-garde, but Smith uses the swirl of these disparate elements to illustrate the complexity of modern life.

Additionally, though “alt lit” has been declared “dead,” the genre also signals a hunger among writers and readers for alternative narrative expressions.

As writers, whether we choose to be more experimental with our work or double down in our obeisance to more classically literary forms, the box-breaking genre defiance that’s happening in and around literature doesn’t have to be scary if we are prepared for it. But prepare we must. Like it or not, “the times, they are a’ changin’.” (I had to.)

National Book Awards 2016

UPDATE: The 2016 National Book Award Winners are:

FICTION
Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad

NON-FICTION
Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

POETRY
Daniel Borzutzky’s The Performance of Becoming Human

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE
John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell’s March: Book Three

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Arlie Russell Hochschild

The National Book Awards, set for November 16th, has named the 20 authors who earned a spot on their 2016 shortlist. Among them, 2002 MacArthur Fellow Colson Whitehead, former Guggenheim, Fulbright, and Mellon Fellow Arlie Russell Hochschild, and Jacqueline Woodson whose book Brown Girl Dreaming earned the 2014 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

FICTION
Chris Bachelder’s The Throwback Special
Paulette Jiles’ News of the World
Karan Mahajan’s The Association of Small Bombs
Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad
Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn

NON-FICTION
Arlie Russell Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War
Andrés Reséndez’s The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America
Heather Ann Thompson’s Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

POETRY
Daniel Borzutzky’s The Performance of Becoming Human
Rita Dove’s Collected Poems 1974 – 2004
Peter Gizzi’s Archeophonics
Jay Hopler’s The Abridged History of Rainfall
Solmaz Sharif’s Look

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE
Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale
John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell’s March: Book Three
Grace Lin’s When the Sea Turned to Silver
Jason Reynolds’ Ghost
Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also a Star

6 Writers Earn 2016 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grants

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Gene Luen Yang

Today, graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang, journalist Sarah Stillman, artist and writer Lauren Redniss, poet Claudia Rankine, writer Maggie Nelson, and playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins were named among 23 artists and scientists receiving 2016 MacArthur Fellowships. Nominated by a committee of “external, invited nominators,” MacArthur Fellows are ultimately selected by 12 jurists to receive a stipend of $625,000, paid in quarterly installments over five years. The FAQs section of the MacArthur Foundation website details: “The fellowship is designed to provide recipients with the flexibility to pursue their own artistic, intellectual, and professional activities in the absence of specific obligations or reporting requirements.”  Last year’s class included Ta-Nehisi CoatesBen LernerLin-Manuel Miranda, and Ellen Bryant Voigt.

 

2016 Man Booker Winner: Paul Beatty

UPDATE: Paul Beatty’s The Sellout  wins the 2016 Man Booker!

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sellout-blog-imagePaul Beatty’s The Sellout, Deborah Levy’s Hot MilkGraeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody ProjectOttessa Moshfegh’s EileenDavid Szalay’s All That Man Is, and Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing made the cut from a longlist of 13 titles announced in July. Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings earned the 2015 Man Bookerthe first time for a Jamaican novelist, and a first for indie publisher Oneworld Publications. With Paul Beatty’s novel, Oneworld is hoping for a repeat performance.

Each shortlisted author will receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The winner will receive an additional £50,000.

Kevin Barry Won the 2015 Goldsmiths Prize

For his novel Beatlebone, Kevin Barry earned the £10,000 Goldsmiths Prize for 2015. The prize, which celebrates “fiction at its most novel”, is open to British and Irish writers published in the UK.  Here he is sharing an excerpt.

Ali Smith earned the Goldsmiths in 2014 for her novel How to Be Both.