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2014 National Book Award finalists announced

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This morning on NPR’s Morning Edition, the National Book Foundation announced the 20 finalists for the National Book Awards in four categories.

The Fiction shortlist includes Anthony Doerr’s best-seller All the Light We Cannot See, Phil Klay’s debut collection of wartime short stories, and Emily St. John Mandel’s breakout post-apocalyptic novel Station Eleven. The Nonfiction list is most notable for its inclusion of Roz Chast for her graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?—Chast is the first cartoonist nominated in an adult category.

See below for a full list of finalists in all categories. READ FULL STORY

Australian author Richard Flanagan wins the Man Booker Prize

Australian author Richard Flanagan has won the Man Booker Prize for The Narrow Road to the Deep North—plus the £50,000 (about $80,000) prize and the great prestige that come with it.

Flanagan, born in Tasmania and living in Australia, is the third Aussie to win the award, which he received at a ceremony on Tuesday in London. The judges described his sixth book, published by Chatto & Windus, as “a harrowing account of the cost of war to all who are caught up in it.” Set in World War II, The Narrow Road tells the story of a surgeon in a Japanese POW camp along the Thailand-Burma Death Railway. The novel was partly inspired by Flanagan’s father’s experiences as a Japanese POW—he died at age 98 on the day his son finished the book.

“The two great themes from the origin of literature are love and war: this is a magnificent novel of love and war,” said chair of the judges A.C. Grayling. “Written in prose of extraordinary elegance and force, it bridges East and West, past and present, with a story of guilt and heroism.”

Flanagan’s win carries a special historical significance because this year marked the first time ever that the competition was open to writers from any country, as long as their work was published in English in the U.K. (Previously, only citizens of the U.K. Commonwealth, Ireland or Zimbabwe were eligible.) Brits still nabbed half of the spots on September’s shortlist, and British author Neel Mukherjee was the favorite to win for The Lives Of Others, set in 1960s India.

Flanagan is as surprised as anyone else by his win. “In Australia, the Man Booker is sometimes seen as something of a chicken raffle,” Flanagan said. “I just didn’t expect to end up the chicken.”

 

 

On the Books: Salman Rushdie shares PEN prize with Syrian activist Mazen Darwish

- Author Salman Rushdie is sharing his PEN Pinter prize with Syrian journalist, lawyer, and human rights activist Mazen Darwish. Darwish has been imprisoned in Syria since February 2012, where he is currently awaiting trial on charges of publicizing terrorist acts, according to English PEN. The founder of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. “Darwish courageously fought for civilised values—free expression, human rights—in one of the most dangerous places in the world,” said Rushdie, speaking at last night’s ceremony at the British Library in London. “His continued detention is arbitrary and unjust. He should be freed immediately, and we must hope this award may help, by shining a light on his plight.”

English PEN, a British free speech organization, established the joint prize five years ago in the name of Nobel Prize-winning British playwright Harold Pinter, who died of cancer in 2008. Half of the prize is awarded to a British author whose work helps defend freedom of speech and justice. Rushdie was selected for his “many years of speaking out for freedom of expression,” according to judges chair Maureen Freely. “When he sees writers unjustly vilified, prosecuted or forced into exile, he takes a personal interest.” The other half of the prize goes to an international writer who has been persecuted for doing similar work. [The Guardian] READ FULL STORY

French writer Patrick Modiano wins Nobel Prize in Literature

The Swedish Academy announced this morning that French historical novelist Patrick Modiano has won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature, calling him “a Marcel Proust of our time.” Modiano, 69, is an unexpected pick—beating out the favorites, Japanese author Haruki Murakami and Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o, to win the award worth eight million kronor (about $1.1 million USD). READ FULL STORY

National Book Awards longlist for Fiction released

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The National Book Award longlist for Fiction includes some new blood along with some well-established names. Young authors Molly Antopol and Phil Klay received their first nods for their debut story collections, and John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats got a nod for his first novel Wolf in White Van. The list includes two Pulitzer Prize winners, Marilynne Robinson and Jane Smiley, and a previous National Book Award winner, Richard Powers. Read on for the full longlist. READ FULL STORY

National Book Awards nonfiction longlist announced

ROZ-CHAST

The National Book Foundation announced its Longlist for the 2014 National Book Award for Nonfiction. Finalists will be revealed on October 15.

The Nonfiction Longlist includes the first cartoonist, Roz Chast, to be honored by the National Book Awards in the adult categories, a Pulitzer Prize Winner, and a number of distinguished historians. READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Authors United warns Amazon, watch your reputation

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The 1,100 member group Authors United posted a letter of direct appeal to Amazon’s board of directors—urging them to end their book-pricing standoff with publisher Hachette, which has hurt some authors’ book sales.

The letter warns the board that their reputation may be at stake: “[I]f this is how Amazon continues to treat the literary community, how long will the company’s fine reputation last?” The appeal continues, noting similar disputes “have a long and ugly history,” and asking, “Do you, personally, want to be associated with this?” For months, Amazon has delayed shipments of books by Hachette authors and removed the preorder option for those titles in an attempt to force Hachette to lower its e-book prices. [NPR] READ FULL STORY

Ursula Le Guin honored with National Book Foundation award

Every year, the National Book Foundation awards the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to an author “who has enriched our literary heritage over a life of service, or a corpus of work.” Since the medal’s inception, authors spanning all genres have been honored, from David McCullough’s historical nonfiction to Ray Bradbury’s science fiction and everything in between.

This year, the foundation has awarded the medal to Ursula Le Guin, whose body of sci-fi and fantasy work spans dozens of novels, short stories, and poems.

READ FULL STORY

See inside the official 'Sons of Anarchy' book, and read the Tara chapter

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As Sons of Anarchy fans rev up for the start of the final season (premiering Sept. 9 at 10 p.m. ET on FX), creator Kurt Sutter has revealed the cover of the show’s forthcoming companion book, Sons of Anarchy: The Official Collector’s Edition, for which he penned an introduction. It’ll hit shelves Dec. 10, the day after the FX drama’s series finale airs.

EW has an exclusive first look inside at the chapter on Tara (Maggie Siff), a map of SOA charters, the SAMCRO family tree, and more. Click on the images for a fuller size. READ FULL STORY

Usher and Scholastic join forces to promote young readers

The Scholastic catalogs you got in elementary school were already cool, but now Usher is joining forces with the children’s publishing giant to launch the “Open the World of Possible” initiative, which is designed to encourage young readers. On Nov. 6, Usher will perform and host a a live webcast, “Bigger Than Words,” which will broadcast live from the Scholastic headquarters in New York City.

“I established New Look, a charitable organization to assist young people to become leaders and to instill in them a belief that they can create change in their communities and around the world,” said Usher. “I’m excited to host the webcast with Scholastic to demonstrate to kids how reading frequently, and being a reading mentor to their friends and others in their community, can open doors to endless possibilities.”

As a further part of the initiative, the Scholastic Possible Fund will make a donation of 100,000 books, and each of three leading non-profits that distribute books to children who need them most will receive a portion of the donation.

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