The 35th Los Angeles Times Book Prizes nominees were announced today, with five finalists each in 10 categories. T.C. Boyle will receive the Robert Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award for his 30-year career as a novelist and short story writer, as well as founder of the creative writing program at USC, where he has taught since the late 1970s.
Three of the five nominees in the Fiction category are women whose novels received critical acclaim in 2014: Siri Hustvedt for The Blazing World, Jenny Offill for The Department of Speculation, and Helen Oyeyemi for Boy, Snow. Bird. [The links are to my reviews.] (The other nominees are the legendary Donald Antrim for The Emerald Light in the Air: Stories and Jesse Ball for Silence Once Begun.)
Women poets took the same number of slots in the First Fiction and Poetry categories.
In First Fiction, Diane Cook for Man v. Nature: Stories, Valerie Luiselli for Faces in the Crowd, and Eimear McBride for A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (which won the 2014 Booker Prize). (The other nominees are John Darnielle for Wolf in White Van and David James Poissant for The Heaven of Animals: Stories.)
In Poetry the nominees are Gillian Conoley for Peace, Katie Ford for Blood Lyrics: Poems, and Claudia Rankine for Citizen: An American Lyric. (The other nominees are Peter Gizzi for In Defense of Nothing: Selected Poems, 1987-2011 and Fred Moten for The Feel Trio.)
Two small presses from Minneapolis elbowed in on the big publishing houses in the nominations. Graywolf Press published Rankine’s Citizen and Ford’s Blood Lyrics: Poems. Coffee House Press published A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing and Faces in the Crowd. Graywolf is also the publisher of Eula Biss’s On Immunity: An Inoculation, a blend of investigative medical journalism and essay (which Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently selected for his Year of Books reading project), and Leslie Jamison’s rapturously reviewed essay collection, The Empathy Exams (2013). Graywolf authors Eula Biss, Claudia Rankine, and Vikram Chandra (Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty) are finalists in this year’s National Book Critics Circle Awards (to be announced on March 12.
The L.A. Times Book Prizes will be announced at the Times’ 20th Festival of Books (to be held on the USC campus) on Saturday, April 18.