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]
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.