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Category: Books (71-80 of 1860)

Donna Tartt's 'Goldfinch': Love it or hate it?

It’s not every year that an 800-page literary novel becomes as popular as The Goldfinch. Yet the book, which has been on the New York Times best-seller list for 33 weeks, is pretty polarizing — people either seem to really like it or they can’t stand it. It wasn’t nominated for the National Book Award, but it won the Pulitzer.

Last week Vanity Fair surveyed literary critics who panned the book when it came out. New Yorker critic James Wood, who wrote in his original review that the book’s “tone, language, and story belong to children’s literature,” told Vanity Fair that “the rapture with which this novel has been received is further proof of the infantilization of our literary culture: a world in which adults go around reading Harry Potter.” Lorin Stein, editor of The Paris Review, said that Tartt’s novel uses, rather than breaks, clichés. “Nowadays, even The New York Times Book Review is afraid to say when a popular book is crap,” he said. Stein thinks The Goldfinch might misrepresent fiction as a whole. “What worries me is that people who read only one or two books a year will plunk down their money for The Goldfinch, and read it, and tell themselves they like it, but deep down will be profoundly bored, because they aren’t children, and will quietly give up on the whole enterprise when, in fact, fiction—realistic fiction, old or new—is as alive and gripping as it’s ever been.”

None of these reviews hurt The Goldfinch, of course, which is still a huge best-seller. It’s so popular that even though it’s a Hachette title, it’s exempt from the current Amazon-Hachette feud. While other Hachette books, such as Malcolm Gladwell’s, might take three weeks to get to your house, Amazon offers regular shipping  for Tartt’s novel.

Most people probably didn’t go out and buy The Goldfinch because they heard it has “fine-chiseled sentences” or whatever other phrase usually employed to praise a work of literary fiction. I suspect they picked it up because they heard it tells a great story — the book’s popularity seems to rest on Tartt’s storytelling skills and not on her prose (in her review of The Goldfinch, Francine Prose wrote about Tartt’s “baffling turns of phrase”). Even the Pulitzer committee said the book “stimulates the mind and touches the heart” but didn’t mention anything about the writing style.

Did you love The Goldfinch or hate it? And why?

PEN American Center releases 2014 literary award shortlists

PEN-American-Center.jpg

Today, the PEN American Center—the largest branch of the PEN International organization—released shortlists for nine of its literary prizes today, and some of the names among them are Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls author David Sedaris, Forty-one False Starts author Janet Malcolm, and The Sports Gene author David Epstein.

PEN presents awards in categories ranging from best debut work to best work of poetry in translation, and today’s shortlists are culled from longlists announced earlier this year. The announcement doesn’t cover the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award for the best work of fiction by an American author or the PEN/Malamud Award for a short story author. The Faulkner Award went to Karen Joy Fowler for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, and the Malamud Award hasn’t been announced yet.

From PEN America’s website, here are the full shortlists. The winners will be announced on July 30th.

PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000): To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2013—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.

Judges: Charles Bock, Jonathan Dee, Fiona Maazel, and Karen Shepard

  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth), Anthony Marra
  • Brief Encounters With the Enemy (The Dial Press), Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
  • Everybody’s Irish (FiveChapters Books), Ian Stansel
  • Godforsaken Idaho (Little A/New Harvest), Shawn Vestal
  • The People in the Trees (Doubleday), Hanya Yanagihara

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2013 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.

Judges: Geoff Dyer, Stanley Fish, Ariel Levy, and Cheryl Strayed

  • Forty-One False Starts (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Janet Malcolm
  • Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls (Little, Brown and Company), David Sedaris
  • The Faraway Nearby (Viking Adult), Rebecca Solnit
  • Critical Mass (Doubleday), James Wolcott

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 published in 2013.

Judges: Akiko Busch, Rivka Galchen, and Eileen Pollack

  • The End of Night (Little, Brown and Company), Paul Bogard
  • Five Days at Memorial (Crown), Sheri Fink
  • High Price (Harper), Carl Hart
  • Surfaces and Essences (Basic Books), Douglas Hofstadter & Emmanuel Sander
  • Wild Ones (Penguin Press), Jon Mooallem

PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2013.

Judges: Catherine Chung, Randa Jarrar, and Monica Youn

  • Duppy Conqueror (Copper Canyon Press), Kwame Dawes
  • Leaving Tulsa (University of Arizona Press), Jennifer Elise Foerster
  • domina Un/blued (Tupelo Press), Ruth Ellen Kocher
  • Cowboys and East Indians (FiveChapters Books), Nina McConigley
  • Ghana Must Go (Penguin Press), Taiye Selasi

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in 2013.

Judges: James Atlas, Lisa Cohen, and Wendy Gimbel

  • Lawrence in Arabia (Doubleday), Scott Anderson
  • Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Linda Leavell
  • Margaret Fuller (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Megan Marshall
  • American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Deborah Solomon
  • A Life of Barbara Stanwyck (Simon & Schuster), Victoria Wilson

PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2013.

Judges: Joel Drucker, Chad Harbach, and Jackie MacMullan

  • Collision Low Crossers (Little, Brown and Company), Nicholas Dawidoff
  • The Sports Gene (Current), David Epstein
  • League of Denial (Crown Archetype), Mark Fainaru-Wada & Steve Fainaru
  • The Emerald Mile (Scribner), Kevin Fedarko
  • Their Life’s Work (Simon & Schuster), Gary M. Pomerantz

PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing ($5,000): To a writer for an exceptional story illustrated in a picture book published in 2013.

Judges: Mac Barnett, Ted Lewin, and Elizabeth Winthrop

  • Train (Orchard Books), Elisha Cooper
  • Tea Party Rules (Viking), Ame Dyckman
  • The King of Little Things (Peachtree Publishers), Bil Lepp
  • Crabtree (McSweeney’s McMullens), Jon & Tucker Nichols

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2013.

Judge: Kimiko Hahn

  • Even Now: Poems by Hugo Claus (Archipelago), David Colmer
  • Diaries of Exile by Yannis Ritsos (Archipelago), Karen Emmerich & Edmund Keeley
  • Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson by Yosa Buson (Copper Canyon Press), Takako Lento & W.S. Merwin
  • Paul Klee’s Boat by Anzhelina Polonskaya (Zephyr Press), Andrew Wachtel
  • Cut These Words Into My Stone: Ancient Greek Epitaphs (Johns Hopkins University Press), Michael Wolfe

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2013.

Judges: Ann Goldstein, Becka McKay, and Katherine Silver

  • An Armenian Sketchbook by Vasily Grossman (New York Review Books), Elizabeth & Robert Chandler
  • Transit by Anna Seghers (New York Review Books), Margot Bettauer Dembo
  • The African Shore by Rodrigo Rey Rosa (Yale University Press), Jeffrey Gray
  • The Emperor’s Tomb by Joseph Roth (New Directions), Michael Hofmann
  • Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (New York Review Books), Joanne Turnbull & Nikolai Formozov

 

Dark coming-of-age stories 'Heavenly Creatures,' 'Stand By Me,' 'Brick' and 'Young Adult' return to the big screen

“Those days are gone forever … I should just let ‘em go.”

No, Don Henley. To hell with that. Sometimes you’ve got to reach back to those glory days with all your might and pull them right back into the here and now — which is exactly what the American Cinematheque and your friendly, neighborhood EW writer are hoping to do with this weekend’s double-feature film fest Youth Is Brutal: Coming-of-Age Films.

Sinister tales of growing up (or not) make up this three-night event at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, beginning on Friday with back-to-back showings of Peter Jackson’s haunting Heavenly Creatures (1994) and Stand By Me (1986), Rob Reiner’s classic adaptation of the Stephen King friendship saga.

Here’s a rundown of the movies returning to the big screen, with details at the bottom about how to win free tickets … READ FULL STORY

'The Silkworm' by J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith: EW Review

The-Silkworm

If there were any doubt that J.K. Rowling has put away childish things since concluding her beloved Harry Potter series seven years ago, consider the grisly description of the crime scene in her new mystery, The Silkworm: “a carcass: trussed, stinking and rotting, empty and gutted…like a slaughtered pig.” Even Voldemort might show more restraint. The victim is a pompous, third-rate novelist named Owen Quine whose final, typewritten manuscript describes just such a death—and also includes libelous fictional versions of all the potential suspects: his more successful literary rival, his chain-smoking agent, his boozy editor, his closeted publisher, his mousy wife, and his shrill mistress. READ FULL STORY

Father's Day: Brad Meltzer on dads who changed history

I never really cared about Father’s Day. Even when I became a father, I didn’t want to make a big deal — that is, until my own dad died.

Thankfully, I was lucky enough to tell my father how grateful I was for all he’d done throughout my life. But there’s nothing like the death of a parent to make you really examine their impact.

Over the past year, as I was researching a new series of children’s books that I was writing for my own kids, I took a look at the childhoods of American heroes like Amelia Earhart and Rosa Parks.

Do you know how Amelia Earhart got to ride on her first airplane? It was because of her father.

READ FULL STORY

Wonder Woman returns in digital-first 'Sensation Comics' issue -- EXCLUSIVE COVER

Ever since her cover debut on Sensation Comics back in 1942, Wonder Woman proved that superheroics weren’t just a boy’s club, joining Superman and Batman as the top-selling comics of the day. Now, more than 70 years later, Princess Diana reclaims her top spot with DC Comics’ new weekly, digital-first anthology series Sensation Comics, alongside the popular Adventures of Superman and Legends of the Dark Knight.

DC’s digital-first series are a way to put out non-continuity-driven stories by a rotating cast of creators who, unbound by the New52 Universe, can feel free to tell stories about the characters from any point in their vast history and deliver their unique takes. For both casual and die-hard fans, it provides accessible, well-crafted tales about the greatest superheroes of the DC Universe on a weekly basis, readable on all digital formats via DC’s ComiXology app and then collected in print afterward.

Below is the exclusive cover of Sensation Comics issue 2, by artist Gene Ha: READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Juan Gabriel Vasquez becomes first South American writer to win IMPAC award

Juan Gabriel Vásquez won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for The Sound of Things Falling, making him the first South American writer to do so. The prize is one of the most prestigious and highest-paying ($135,000) in the world, and honors a novel written or translated into English. Judges culled The Sound of Things Falling from a longlist of 152 titles in 17 original languages. “I love that fact about this prize, that translated novels are considered on the same level as novels originally published in English, and secondly its international nature,” Vásquez said. “The prize this year has been awarded to a Colombian novelist and a Canadian translator who met in Spain while the translator was living in England, and the prize is awarded in Dublin, so it’s that great kind of cosmopolitan thing.” [The Guardian]

The New York Times interviewed Hillary Clinton for its “by the book” series to find out what she reads. Unsurprisingly, the former Secretary of State has really good taste — but it is surprising that she reads so much considering how busy she is. To begin, Clinton loves Alice Munro, Barbara Kingsolver, John le Carré, John Grisham, Hilary Mantel, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Alexander McCall Smith. Who has time to read Hillary Mantel books while being Secretary of State and running for president? Her answers are appropriately diplomatic — she seems to have read at least one thing that anyone can tassociate with. Right now, she’s in the middle of The Goldfinch, a Maya Angelou book, and a Harlan Coben novel. And, like every political candidate, the Bible “was and remains the biggest influence on [her] thinking.” Weirdly, Clinton also suggests that she doesn’t quite believe Shakespeare wrote everything attributed to him, an opinion shared by fellow liberal political icon John Paul Stevens. [The New York Times] READ FULL STORY

What We're Reading Now: 'China Dolls' by Lisa See

china-dolls

So I went into this one a little biased. I’ve read Lisa See’s other works — happily falling into Shanghai Girls and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, passing them around to any girlfriend I had jumping on a plane, heading to a beach, laying around their pools…you get it — and I generally enjoy the large, colorful brushstrokes See uses in crafting her worlds.

So when I heard music editor Leah Greenblatt was reviewing China Dolls for the magazine, I patiently waited outside her door, tapping my foot and making subtle sounds of indignation, until she finished. This one, I wanted.

Unfortunately, my biases did me no favors. READ FULL STORY

Kevin Kwan Q&A: Update on 'Crazy Rich Asians' movie adaptation, and book sequel title announced -- EXCLUSIVE

Live sharks in living rooms, a private jet with a yoga studio — what can be more over-the-top than the lives of the über-rich Kevin Kwan put on the page in Crazy Rich Asians? His upcoming sequel, China Rich Girlfriend — the title of which is being revealed on EW exclusively — promises more.

“I’ve definitely not used up the crazy,” Kwan says. “I have so many more stories. But this is, once again, going to be based on a lot of what I’ve seen and witnessed.” China Rich Girlfriend will likely be one of next year’s popular beach reads upon its release on June 16, 2015.

Kwan also updated us on the movie adaptation of Crazy Rich Asians. It’s being written by playwright Keith Bunin, who also scripted Daniel Radcliffe-starrer Horns, adapted from the book by Joe Hill. Casting news is being held tightly under wraps, but Kwan said that he’s heavily involved in the production process and that, at this point, he and other producers are in talks with studios to collaborate with.

Check out a condensed version of our interview below: READ FULL STORY

Mindy Kaling announces title for new book of essays

Clear some space on your bookshelf — Mindy Kaling’s second book of personal essays now has a title: Why Not Me?

In a chat with the Los Angeles Times (which you can watch in full; the book talk starts at 33:00), Kaling revealed more details about the follow-up to her 2011 book of essays, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns). Why Not Me? will explore her world post-discovering everyone might be hanging out without her.

“So much has happened between the time I published my first book and now: The show; my mother passed away; so many of my friends have gotten married. I’m a godmother now, and a homeowner,” she explained. She said the book will give her the chance “in the most articulate way” to explain all of the headline-generating incidents of the past few years, including her magazine covers, the ethnicity of her television boyfriends on The Mindy Project, and — hopefully — a return of “Things I’ve Bought That I Love.” READ FULL STORY

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