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Category: News (61-70 of 626)

National Book Critics Circle Awards go to Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Sheri Fink

Last night, the National Book Critics Circle announced the winners of its prestigious awards for books published in 2013. Not too surprisingly, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche — you might recognize that name from the Beyonce track “***Flawless” — edged out Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch for the big fiction prize for Americanah, the probing novel about Nigerian immigrants that EW chose as one of the best books of last year.

See below for a full list of winners: READ FULL STORY

Holy Quidditch Cup! More stories from J.K. Rowling on Pottermore

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Attention Potter Fans! (That’s the same as saying “attention everyone.”) J.K. Rowling has written a 2,400 word story on the “History of the Quidditch World Cup” and she’s given it exclusively to Pottermore to post in two parts, half today and half next Friday, March 21st.

Part one, which is going up today, provides historical background about the tournament, information about how the tournament works, and examples of controversial tournaments, including the infamous 1877 match played in Kazakhstan’s Ryn Desert now known as the Tournament that Nobody Remembers. READ FULL STORY

On The Books: Orson Welles reading Walt Whitman's 'Song of Myself' will root you to your chair

Walt Whitman’s poetry flares up a lot in Americana. Breaking Bad‘s meth kingpin Walter White had an inscribed copy of Leaves of Grass (which sold at an auction for $65,500). In the show, the book was the catalyst for his undoing. Bill Clinton infamously presented Monica Lewinsky with a copy of Leaves of Grass. (Lesson: never gift Leaves of Grass. It’s the Hades pomegranate of modern times.) Apple’s recent iPad commercial makes striking (and shameless) use of Robin Williams’ speech from Dead Poets Society in which he quotes Whitman’s “Oh Me! Oh Life!” Today Open Culture featured an interesting article about this phenomenon, but the real treat is the download of Orson Welles’ BBC recording of “Song of Myself.” Welles’ resonant voice and expressive reading is absolutely riveting. He gives the poem the gravity that Whitman intended. It makes you miss old time radio readings. [Open Culture]

If you feel like gobbling up more radio after Orson Welles, head over to N+1. The associate editor Richard Beck and author Sheila Heti discuss political and literary topics like friendship, feminism and the child-care sex-abuse hysteria of the 1980s. You know, casual Thursday thoughts. [N+1]

Lotte Fields was a regular visitor to the New York Public Library until the day she died at 89-years-old. She loved to read and she donated the occasional small sum to the institution. So imagine the everyone’s surprise when it was discovered on Wednesday that she bequeathed the 119-year-old library $6 million in her will. That sounds like something written by E.L. Konigsburg. [New York Times]

The Hugo Awards periodically recognize books that were written 50-75 years prior to the current award ceremony. This year the Hugo committee asked members to pick a science fiction book written in 1938 for an honorary Retro-Hugo award. Notables include: Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis; the Doc Savage novels; and The Sword in the Stone, by T.H. White. [Guardian]

Another sweet poetry story, Afaa Michael Weaver just won the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for his poetry collection The Government of Nature. Chief Judge Chase Twichell said of Weaver, “His father was a sharecropper. After serving for two years in the Army, he toiled for 15 years in factories, writing poems all the while. When he learned that he’d won a National Endowment Fellowship, he quit his job and attended Brown University on a full scholarship. He essentially invented himself from whole cloth as a poet. It’s truly remarkable.” So second lesson today: it’s never too late to seize your dream job. [NPR]

First peek at 'YOU' by Caroline Kepnes -- EXCLUSIVE

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Former EW writer Caroline Kepnes, along with Alloy Entertainment and Emily Bestler Books/Atria Books, is bringing you a story of creepy obsession that seems to fit squarely in the “New Adult” genre that’s been taking off lately. According to the official description, You (out Sept. 30) begins innocently enough:

Recent Brown graduate Guinevere Beck strides into the bookstore where Joe works. Joe is instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: she’s gorgeous, tough, razor-smart, and sexy beyond his wildest dreams. Joe needs to have her, and he’ll stop at nothing to do so. As he begins to insinuate himself into her life—her friendships—her email—her phone— she can’t resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom-made for her. So when her boyfriend, Benji, mysteriously disappears, Beck and Joe fall into a tumultuous affair. But there’s more to Beck than her oh-so-perfect façade, and their mutual obsession quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences…

Take a closer look at the cover above, which Kepnes calls “beautiful and bloody.” She adds, “Looking at this cover was love at first sight. It’s so rich and inviting but also scary in all the right ways. I love it. The designer nailed it.”

On the Books: Keith Richards wrote a children's book and Anne Rice's Lestat lives!

Keith Richards is publishing a children’s picture book, called Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar. Richards’ grandfather was in a jazz big band and was a childhood role model of the rocker’s. “I have just become a grandfather for the fifth time, so I know what I’m talking about,” says Richards in a press release. “The bond, the special bond, between kids and grandparents is unique and should be treasured. This is a story of one of those magical moments. May I be as great a grandfather as Gus was to me.” His daughter Theodora Richards will do the illustrations in pen and ink. The book will be released in hardcover and ebook on September 9, 2014, with the hardcover edition including an exclusive audio CD featuring bonus book content.

City Room’s Big City Book Club had a funny little Q&A with Gary Shteyngart on Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City. Shteyngart reminisces on the good old days when Manhattan was “a genuine mix of pathology and creativity.” Now the craziest thing that might happen to you is “a Citi Bike might run over your foot on the way to the Equinox and then you’ll tweet about it pretty hard.” True. [New York Times]

That Amtrak writers residency is now a real thing. They’re accepting application on their website and 24 “winners” will receive round-trip tickets to a mystery location that Amtrak chooses based on availability. So get ready for a romantic ride to Bakersfield, CA.

George Saunders is going to have to install a second mantle in his house to hold all his trophies. He has now won his second award in as many weeks. First it was the Story Prize and now it’s the inaugural Folio Prize from the UK, which comes with a $67,000 reward. Slow clap for the Tenth of December. [New York Times]

LESTAT LIVES! Anne Rice is publishing a new Lestat novel, Prince Lestat, which will be out in October (go figure.) The book will be a sequel to her Vampire Chronicles and the start of a new series. [Guardian]

I had to read all the Vampire Chronicles over again and I had to kind of … I don’t want to be irritating or pretentious talking about a character as if he’s a real human being, but I really had to wrestle Lestat to the ground, and beat him up, and say ‘look, you’ve got to talk to me, I’ve got to know what you’ve been doing’. Because I can’t really write novels about that character unless he wants to come through, and it really is like he’s a living breathing being somewhere, and suddenly he did, he came through, and he started to talk and I was taking the dictation, and everything went splendidly well and it was very exciting.

On the Books: David Nicholls takes on 'Us,' his first book after 'One Day'

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David Nicholls, the author behind the novel One Day — which sold 5 million copies worldwide and garnered a film adaptation starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess — has finally announced a publication date for his next novel. After five years in the works, Us will hit shelves on September 30, 2014. This story is about a family on the brink of dissolution — a husband and wife of 21 years who are about to call it quits and their college-bound son. But before everything falls apart, the husband takes them on a grand tour of Europe in hopes of knitting their lives back together. So this is basically the flip side of One Day, which was a 20-year search for romance; Us is a 20-year breakdown of love. While ruminating on Us, Nicholls also wrote the screen adaptation of Great Expectations for the version released last year starring Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes.  [The Guardian]

Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch will also be getting a screen adaptation, although the scope of that project hasn’t been decided yet. The producers behind The Hunger Games films have optioned the book, but they’re waiting on “the right filmmaker” to determine the book’s cinematic future, which could be a television miniseries or a movie. The Goldfinch has been gaining more and more momentum since its October 2013 release. The New York Times named it one of the best books of 2013 and it has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Bailey Prize. [The Wrap]

Serhiy Zhadan — Ukraine’s most famous counterculture writer according to The New Yorker — suffered a violent beating at the hands of a pro-Russian mob on Saturday. Photos of his bloody face made the rounds online, but he posted this note on his Facebook page to reassure his supporters: “Friends, with me everything is okay.” Zhadan is a national icon in Ukraine and his abuse will reverberate through the Ukrainian populace. Unfortunately The New Yorker reports that:

Now, Zhadan is back in the hospital—his jaw has not been healing properly. But, he wrote in an e-mail, the beating has not deterred him. “It’s very simple,” he wrote. “I don’t want to live in a country of corruption and injustice. I, like millions of other Ukrainians, would like to have a normal measure of power. A dictatorship is not normal, and people who don’t protest injustice, they have no future.”

On The Books: Grasshopper Jungle might be a movie

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Hollywood hasn’t finished with the story trend of teens struggling to find their identity in a post-apocalyptic dystopia yet.  The most recent YA novel to get snatched up by movie executives is Grasshopper Jungle, which was just optioned by Sony. Scott Rosenberg (Con Air, Beautiful Girls, High Fidelity) plans to adapt the script. The novel is about a 16-year-old boy who inadvertently unleashes a plague of insects that turn the populace into mindless super-soldiers looking to eat, have sex and kill things — basically a bizarre take on the Pandora’s Box myth. Apparently author Andrew Smith carries it off with some verve though because we gave it an A- in our review. Movie-wise, I’d say this would come in around Planet of the Apes mixed with 28 Days Later and multiplied by that Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, “Teachers Pet.” Can’t wait.

A new campaign called Let Books Be Books aims to end gender bias in the presentation of children’s books. They’re calling for publishers to remove “for boys” and “for girls” labels from kids books, as well as make the covers more gender neutral. This idea has been swirling for a long time, but it seems to be gaining more momentum recently…or maybe I’m just thinking of that amazing GoldieBox commercial for girl’s toys. [Guardian]

On that note, there’s a great essay by Anna Holmes in The New Yorker called “How to be a Good Bad American Girl.” Holmes looks at the legacy of troublesome little girls in American literature, specifically Harriet the Spy and To Kill A Mockingbird. “Harper Lee and Louise Fitzhugh taught their readers that difference, nonconformity, and even subversion should be celebrated in young girls,” she writes. “These qualities are the prerequisites for, and not the enemies of, creativity, curiosity, and insight.” [New Yorker]

The longlist of 20 nominees for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction was just announced today. Lots of great women made the cut. I don’t envy the judges’ job of narrowing this down to a winner for June, 4th. Check out the nominees below.

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
  • Margaret Atwood, MaddAddam
  • Suzanne Berne, The Dogs of Littlefield
  • Fatima Bhutto, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon
  • Claire Cameron, The Bear
  • Lea Carpenter, Eleven Days
  • M.J. Carter, The Strangler Vine
  • Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
  • Deborah Kay Davies, Reasons She Goes to the Woods
  • Elizabeth Gilbert, The Signature of All Things
  • Hannah Kent, Burial Rites
  • Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers
  • Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland
  • Audrey Magee, The Undertaking
  • Eimear McBride, A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing
  • Charlotte Mendelson, Almost English
  • Anna Quindlen, Still Life with Bread Crumbs
  • Elizabeth Strout, The Burgess Boys
  • Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch
  • Evie Wyld, All The Birds, Singing

Touchstone cancels publication of @GSElevator book 'Straight to Hell'

Touchstone just sent out a press release saying they have cancelled publication of John LeFevre’s Straight to Hell. LeFevre was the banker behind the Twitter account for @GSElevator, which supposedly chronicled conversations overheard in the Goldman Sachs elevators. (Wolf of Wall Street-worthy quotes like: “I never give money to homeless people. I can’t reward failure in good conscience.”) On Feb 24, Dealbook outed the man behind the tweets as a Citigroup bond executive, not a Goldman Sachs employee, and a fury erupted online as people took sides — to care or not to care about his lack of genuine GS employment? LeFevre defended his twitter-scheme at Business Insider: “The issue of my anonymity was simply a device, and one that has suited the construct of the Twitter feed,” he wrote on Tuesday. “GSElevator has never been an anonymous person. It’s not a person at all. It’s the embodiment or aggregation of ‘every banker,’ a concentrated reflection of a Wall Street culture and mentality. Newsflash: GSElevator has never been about elevators. And, it’s never been specifically about Goldman Sachs; it’s about illuminating Wall Street culture in a fun and entertaining way.”

Apparently, Touchstone isn’t buying the explanation. The publisher released this statement: “In light of information that has recently come to our attention since acquiring John Lefevre’s Straight to Hell, Touchstone has decided to cancel its publication of this work.”

On The Books: George Saunders wins Story Prize for 'Tenth of December'

This has been a good awards week for Texans. First Matthew McConaughey snagged the Best Actor Oscar and now Amarillo-native George Saunders has won the $20,000 Story Prize for his short-story collection Tenth of December. “George Saunders offers a vision and version of our world that takes into account the serious menace all around us without denying the absurd pleasures that punctuate life,” the judges said in a statement. The collection has been widely praised since its release in January of last year. The New York Times declared Tenth of December “the best book you’ll read this year.” Saunders was even listed as one of Time’s 100 most influential people in 2013.  When he’s not writing, Saunders teaches creative writing at Syracuse University. You can read the title story on The New Yorker website here.

The year’s PEN/Faulker finalists for best fiction writing in 2013 are Daniel Alarcón for At Night We Walk in Circles; Percival Everett for Percival Everett by Virgil Russell; Karen Joy Fowler for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; Joan Silber for Fools; and Valerie Trueblood for Search Party: Stories of Rescue. The West Coast must have really brought the heat to fiction writing this year: of the five nominees, three are from California and one is from Seattle. The winner of the $15,000 prize will be announced on April 2nd and the awards ceremony will be held at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC on May 10th.

The double Booker Prize-winner Hilary Mantel told The Telegraph that the stage adaptations of her bestselling novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies will get a run in London with the Royal Shakespearean Company. In the interview she also shared her thoughts on dumbing down your work for readers with a short attention span. “There’s no compromise in my books,” she says. “I always assume my readers are highly intelligent and will give a good quality of attention to books. I don’t talk down or patronise or condescend. If you get the reader to come with you, they will reward you. Speak in your own voice, write as well as you can. Don’t tailor your work to a perceived market. A reader quickly detects condescension.” [Telegraph]

Someone over at NPR put Hemingway’s first paragraph of The Sun Also Rises through the Hemingway App. The conclusion of the experiment was that even Hemingway can’t write as well as Hemingway. [NPR]

Animal Lovers Trigger Warning. Researchers over at the University of Pennsylvania discovered 16th century watercolor illustrations of rockets strapped to cats and doves. Come again? It’s as crazy as it sounds. The book is written by artillery master Franz Helm of Cologne and it’s “filled with strange and terrible imagery, from bombs packed with shrapnel to missile-like explosive devices studded with spikes.” His idea with the cats was that a soldier should “capture a cat from enemy territory, attach a bomb to its back, light the fuse, then hope it runs back home and starts a raging fire.” Helm is like a real life version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Fetchez la vache.

John le Carre talks about the spy who inspired George Smiley and corruption in Intelligence agencies

John le Carré, the most prominent spy novelist of the 20th century, wrote a letter to The Telegraph yesterday about John Bingham, the spy who inspired his character George Smiley. Le Carré has written 23 books, but his most famous novels feature the MI6 agent George Smiley (portrayed by Gary Oldman in the film version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.)

Before he began writing full time, John le Carré worked as an intelligence officer himself for MI5 and MI6, where he became friends with John Bingham. The late Bingham was recently featured in a Telegraph article detailing his success at neutralizing British Nazi sympathizers during WWII. Bingham was a dedicated intelligence officer who was apparently burning with British nationalism. Someone wrote a response accusing Le Carré of “disrespecting” Bingham by writing him into books that portrayed the intelligence service as fallible and corrupt.

Le Carré — who is 82 years old and showing no sign of slowing down — penned his own reply to The Telegraph and said that friendship aside, he and Bingham were of two different minds on what it means to serve your country. “Where Bingham believed that uncritical love of the Secret Services was synonymous with love of country, I came to believe that such love should be examined,” he wrote. “And that, without such vigilance, our Secret Services could in certain circumstances become as much of a peril to our democracy as their supposed enemies. John Bingham may indeed have detested this notion. I equally detest the notion that our spies are uniformly immaculate, omniscient and beyond the vulgar criticism of those who not only pay for their existence, but on occasion are taken to war on the strength of concocted intelligence.”

Interesting thoughts when you consider our current situation with rampant and seemingly unrestricted NSA surveillance…

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