National Book Awards finalists announced; 15 of 20 are women

The National Book Foundation has announced the finalists for the 2017 National Book Awards in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. Notably, of the 20 finalists, 15 are women. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on November 15.

Here are the finalists:



Elliot Ackerman — Dark at the Crossing

Lisa Ko — The Leavers

Min Jin Lee — Pachinko

Carmen Maria Machado — Her Body and Other Parties: Stories 

Jesmyn Ward — Sing, Unburied, Sing


Erica Armstrong Dunbar — Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge

Frances FitzGerald — The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America

Masha Gessen — The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia

David Grann — Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

Nancy MacLean — Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America


Frank Bidart — Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016

Leslie Harrison — The Book of Endings

Layli Long Soldier —WHEREAS [all caps sic]

Shane McCrae —In the Language of My Captor

Danez Smith — Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems

Young People’s Literature:

Elana K. Arnold — What Girls Are Made Of

Robin Benway — Far from the Tree

Erika L. Sánchez — I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Rita Williams-Garcia — Clayton Byrd Goes Underground

Ibi Zoboi — American Street



Center for Fiction announces 2016 First Novel Prize longlist


The Center for Fiction in New York City has announced the longlist of nominees for the 2016 First Novel Prize.

Of the 25 debut novels, 15 are by women (in alphabetical order by author):

  • The Girls by Emma Cline (Random House)
  • The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter by Kia Corthron (Seven Stories Press)
  • Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn (Liveright)
  • The Lightkeepers by Abby Geni (Counterpoint)
  • We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge (Algonquin Books)
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • Another Place You’ve Never Been by Rebecca Kauffman (Soft Skull Press)
  • How I Became a North Korean by Krys Lee (Viking)
  • As Close to Us as Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner (Lee Boudreaux Books)
  • Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss (Scout Press)
  • Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves (Scribner)
  • Wreck and Order by Hannah Tennant-Moore (Hogarth)
  • The Longest Night by Andria Williams (Random House)
  • Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson (Harper)
  • Shelter by Jung Yun (Picador USA)

According to the Center for Fiction website, “The First Novel Prize is awarded to the best debut novel published between January 1 and December 31 of the award year. The author of the winning book is awarded $10,000 and each shortlisted author receives $1,000. The winner will be announced at our Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner on Tuesday, December 6 at The Metropolitan Club.”

The shortlist of seven finalists will be announced in September.

“Previous winners include Marisha Pessl, for Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Viking), Junot Díaz, for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead/Penguin), Hannah Tinti, for The Good Thief (The Dial Press), John Pipkin, for Woodsburner (Doubleday/Nan A. Talese), Karl Marlantes, for Matterhorn (Atlantic Monthly Press with El León Literary Arts), Bonnie Nadzam, for Lamb (Other Press), Ben Fountain, for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ecco/HarperCollins), Margaret Wrinkle, for Wash (Atlantic Monthly Press), Tiphanie Yanique, for Land of Love and Drowning (Riverhead Books), and Viet Thanh Nguyen, for The Sympathizer (Grove Press).”

The other ten books (by male writers) are:

  • Dodgers by Bill Beverly (Crown)
  • The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales (Riverhead Books)
  • What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • The Alaskan Laundry by Brendan Jones (Mariner Books)
  • All Joe Knight by Kevin Morris (Grove Press)
  • Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser (Ecco)
  • Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings by Stephen O’Connor (Viking)
  • Stork Mountain by Miroslav Penkov (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay (Melville House)
  • Hurt People by Cote Smith (FSG Originals)

Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction finalists announced

11th April 2016: The Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction announces its 2016 shortlist, comprised of 6 books that celebrate the best of fiction written by women

The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist has been announced. The Prize for Fiction, the UK’s only annual book award for fiction written by a woman, celebrates excellence, originality, and accessibility in writing by women from throughout the world.

Making the cut from the longlist of 20 books are:

Ruby  Cynthia Bond credit Jay Harris (1)

Cynthia Bond — Ruby

The Green Road  AnneEnright

Anne Enright — The Green Road

Glorious Heresies  Lisa McInerney photo FINAL

Lisa McInerney — The Glorious Heresies

Portable Veblen  Elizabeth McKenzie credit Linda Ozaki

Elizabeth McKenzie — The Portable Veblen

Improbability of Love  Hannah Rothschild credit Harry Cory Wright

Hannah Rothschild — The Improbability of Love

A Little Life  Hanya Yanagihara credit Jenny Westerhoff

Hanya Yanagihara — A Little Life

“Our choices reflect a really diverse mix of brilliant writing from new and established authors around the world and we hope that everyone will find much to enjoy in them,” commented Chair of Judges Margaret Mountford.

Syl Saller, Chief Marketing Officer of Diageo, the parent company of Baileys, added, “What a range of beautifully crafted and excellent stories originating from Ireland to Texas – the judges have selected a truly exciting range of novels for this year’s shortlist. In partnership with the Women’s Prize, Baileys is thrilled to celebrate these inspiring female authors and bring the pleasure of their writing to readers across the world.”

The winner will be presented with a check for £30,000 (US$42,645) and a limited edition bronze statue known as “the Bessie,” created by artist Grizel Niven. Both are anonymously endowed.

The award ceremony will take place in The Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London, on June 8.

The 2016 finalists are from the U.S. (Bond, McKenzie, and Yanagihara), the U.K. (Rothschild), and Ireland (Enright and McInerney).

Previous winners are: Ali Smith for How to be Both (2015), Eimear McBride for A Girl is a Half-formed Thing (2014), A.M. Homes for May We Be Forgiven (2013), Madeline Miller for The Song of Achilles (2012), Téa Obreht for The Tiger’s Wife (2011), Barbara Kingsolver for The Lacuna (2010), Marilynne Robinson for Home (2009), Rose Tremain for The Road Home (2008), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for Half of a Yellow Sun (2007), Zadie Smith for On Beauty (2006), Lionel Shriver for We Need to Talk About Kevin (2005), Andrea Levy for Small Island (2004), Valerie Martin for Property (2003), Ann Patchett for Bel Canto (2002), Kate Grenville for The Idea of Perfection (2001), Linda Grant for When I Lived in Modern Times (2000), Suzanne Berne for A Crime in the Neighbourhood (1999), Carol Shields for Larry’s Party (1998), Anne Michaels for Fugitive Pieces (1997), and Helen Dunmore for A Spell of Winter (1996).

The judges for the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction are:

Margaret Mountford (Chair), Lawyer and Businesswoman

Naga Munchetty, Broadcast Journalist

Laurie Penny, Writer and Journalist

Elif Shafak, Author

Tracey Thorn, Writer and Singer


The 2016 longlist included:

Kate Atkinson: A God in Ruins

Shirley Barrett: Rush Oh!

Cynthia Bond: Ruby

Geraldine Brooks: The Secret Chord

Becky Chambers: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Jackie Copleton: A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding

Rachel Elliott: Whispers Through a Megaphone

Anne Enright: The Green Road

Petina Gappah: The Book of Memory

Vesna Goldsworthy: Gorsky

Clio Gray: The Anatomist’s Dream

Melissa Harrison: At Hawthorn Time

Attica Locke: Pleasantville

Lisa McInerney: The Glorious Heresies

Elizabeth McKenzie: The Portable Veblen

Sara Nović: Girl at War

Julia Rochester: The House at the Edge of the World

Hannah Rothschild: The Improbability of Love

Elizabeth Strout: My Name is Lucy Barton

Hanya Yanagihara: A Little Life

2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist announced

Timed to coincide with International Women’s Day, the organizers of the prestigious UK-based Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction have announced the 20-book longlist of nominees.

In announcing the nominees, Chair of Judges Margaret Mountford commented, “We had a hugely enjoyable and stimulating meeting, as there were a great many strong novels in contention. We are delighted with the quality, the imaginative scope and the ambition of our chosen books, a longlist which reflects the judges’ interests and tastes. We hope readers will enjoy the variety of outstanding work on offer.”

Notably, more than half the books are debut novels, while four are by authors who have made the shortlist of six novels in the past. If some of the titles are unfamiliar to you, that is because they have only been released in the UK.

The shortlist will be announced on April 11, and the winner will be announced at an awards ceremony held in the Royal Festival Hall on June 8th.

The longlist:

A God in Ruins  Kate Atkinson: A God in Ruins

Rush Oh!  Shirley Barrett: Rush Oh!

Ruby  Cynthia Bond: Ruby

Secret Chord  Geraldine Brooks: The Secret Chord

Long Way to a Small Angry Planet  Becky Chambers: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Dictionary of Mutual Understanding  Jackie Copleton: A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding

Whispers Through a Megaphone  Rachel Elliott: Whispers Through a Megaphone

The Green Road  Anne Enright: The Green Road

The_Book_of_Memory  Petina Gappah: The Book of Memory

Gorsky  Vesna Goldsworthy: Gorsky

Anatomist's Dream  Clio Gray: The Anatomist’s Dream

At Hawthorn Time  Melissa Harrison: At Hawthorn Time

Pleasantville  Attica Locke: Pleasantville

Glorious Heresies  Lisa McInerney: The Glorious Heresies

Portable Veblen  Elizabeth McKenzie: The Portable Veblen

Girl at War  Sara Nović: Girl at War [see my review here]

House at the Edge of the World  Julia Rochester: The House at the Edge of the World

Improbability of Love  Hannah Rothschild: The Improbability of Love

My Name is Lucy Barton  Elizabeth Strout: My Name is Lucy Barton

A Little Life  Hanya Yanagihara: A Little Life

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves examines unique family, loss, memory


We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

By Karen Joy Fowler

Marian Wood Books/G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2013

320 pages, $26.95

It’s quite likely that you have never read a book look We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. It is the story of a two sisters — and a family — seemingly like many others and yet unlike any other.

The story is narrated by Rosemary Cooke, who is both a charming and eccentric storyteller and an unreliable narrator. Fowler’s achievement in crafting Rosemary’s persona and narrative voice is impressive. She is smart, self-effacing, witty, sardonic — and heartbroken. More importantly, her tale, and her way of telling it, is spellbinding.

The narrative moves back and forth between Rosemary’s childhood and her college and adult years, as she recalls the brief years of innocent childhood before tragedy struck the Cookes. For the first 75 pages, we are introduced to the lives of, and relationships between, the various family members: Rosemary’s research scientist parents (her father is a professor at Indiana University), aloof older brother Lowell, and fun-loving sister Fern.

There is a strong sense of foreboding in the first part of the book, a black cloud looming over Rosemary and the Cooke family, but it is mentioned only in vague terms. Something happened to Fern; she “disappeared” from their lives and no one has ever been the same. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves describes the effects of Fern’s disappearance on the family, each of whom copes with the loss in a unique way, one that confounds the other family members.

The events in this novel might seem far-fetched were it not for the fact that they are based on actual events. Fowler’s story reminds us that humans are capable of both amazing and shameful things, and that our hubris often leads us into uncharted and dangerous territory. Even when we do our best with what we know, and with good intentions, it is often not good enough; the damage is done.

Fowler received the PEN/Faulkner Award for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves on April 2. In a statement announcing the award, Manuel Muñoz, one of the three judges, said, “This superb novel is not only comic and smart, it packs a surprising emotional punch. Fowler captures an altogether new dimension of the meaning—and heartbreak—of family dynamics.” Judge Madison Smartt Bell added, “This is a book that really does tell us something new about what it is to be human—and what it is not to be.”

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is an example of a novel that is both critically acclaimed and embraced by readers. It was a bestseller when published in May 2013 and was issued in paperback in late February. Fowler is best known as the author of The Jane Austen Book Club, her most accessible work, which was a huge hit in 2004.

Short list announced for prestigious Women’s Prize for Fiction






AmericanahChimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Hay festival 2012

Final Lowland cover.indd  jhumpa-lahiri

burialrites  Hannah Kent

the undertaking  Audrey Magee

half formed thing  Eimear McBride

The judging committee for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction announced the short list of six novels, narrowed down from the long list of 20 titles, on Monday, April 7 in London. The favorites to win the most prestigious award for women’s fiction are Donna Tartt for her epic coming of age tale, The Goldfinch, which too ten years to write, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for her story of African immigrants adapting to life in the U.S., Americanah. Adichie won the award for her previous novel, Half of a Yellow Sky, in 2007, when it was known as the Orange Prize. She was born and raised in Nigeria but attended college at Drexel University in Philadelphia and Eastern Connecticut State University, where she graduated summa cum laude in 2001. Other finalists include Jhumpa Lahiri for her story of two brothers and the woman they both loved, The Lowland; Hannah Kent for her debut novel set in 19th century Iceland, Burial Rites; Audrey Magee for The Undertaking, set in Berlin during WWII; and Eimear McBride for her challenging debut, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. McBride has already won the Goldsmiths Prize for 2013 for the novel.

Interestingly, there are no British (English, Scottish, or Welsh) writers on the short list. Tartt is American, Lahiri was born in England to Indian parents but raised in the U.S.; Kent is Australian; and Magee and McBride are Irish. Four of the books are available in the U.S., but he Magee and McBride novels won’t be published here until September 2014.

The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony in London on June 4.




Karen Joy Fowler has been named the winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for her 2013 novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. The book, about a unique sibling relationship and resulting family drama, was both critically acclaimed and a bestseller. Fowler will receive a $15,000 award.

The other nominees included two story collections  (Joan Silber’s Fools and Valerie Trueblood’s Search Party) and two somewhat experimental novels (Daniel Alarcon’s At Night We Walk in Circles and Percival Everett’s Percival Everett by Virgil Russell).

This year’s judges were novelists Madison Smartt Bell, Manuel Muñoz and Achy Obejas. The PEN/Faulkner website states that they considered 430 novels and short story collections. In a statement announcing the award, Muñoz said, “Fowler captures an altogether new dimension of the meaning — and heartbreak — of family dynamics.”

The winning novel is Fowler’s sixth in a wide-ranging body of work. She is perhaps best known for The Jane Austen Book Club (2004), her most accessible novel. Her 2001 novel, Sister Noon, was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner award in 2001. Fowler has won a Nebula Award, a Shirley Jackson Award and a World Fantasy Award.

The awards ceremony will take place on May 10 at the Folger Library in Washington, D.C.