Graywolf Press publisher Fiona McCrae and executive editor Jeff Shotts were in the audience last night when poet Mary Szybist won the National Book Award for her Graywolf book, "Incarnadine," a collection of poems about the Annunciation.
Szybist thanked Graywolf, among others, in her brief, fervent acceptance speech, praising the press for handling her book with such care.
This is the first National Book Award won by a Graywolf author, though there have been finalists (Carl Phillips, Salvatore Scibona and Deborah Baker). Graywolf writers have won, in recent years, most major literary prizes, including the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the Kingsley Tufts Award, and the National Book Critics Circle award.
" ‘Incarnadine’ is a marvel of a book, about the many ways we encounter the world and the world encounters us,” Shotts, who edited "Incarnadine," said in an interview when the book was short-listed.
Other winners last night include "The Thing About Luck," by Cynthia Kadohata, for Young People's Literature; "The Unwinding," by George Packer, for Nonfiction; and "The Good Lord Bird," by James McBride, for fiction.
You can read five poems from "Incarnadine" on the Graywolf website here.
Twin Cities poet Matt Rasmussen was a finalist for "Black Aperture," his collection of poems about his brother's suicide. The book also won the Walt Whitman Award. Last night's ceremony was broadcast live on C-Span 2 and you can watch it on the National Book Foundation website here.
Because we are Flyover Country, and thus aw-shucks dirt-kicking provincial, we are allowed to claim every author who not only was born here and lived here for a time (or lives here still), but also every author who was educated here, is here on fellowship, or who has summered up the Shore. (This would include Pat Conroy, whose sister lived in Minneapolis for awhile--he'd visit her, and then head up the Shore.)
We draw the line at including writers who have simply spent the night or changed planes at MSP International. We do have some pride.
So in that vein, we should all be bursting with pride at the number of Minnesota authors who have made it to the semi-finals in the annual Goodreads Best Books competition. There are perhaps overly many genres, but we won't argue with that--all the better for highlighting more and more books! (Though the books don't always seem to quite belong with the genre--is Colum McCann's "TransAtlantic" really "historical fiction"? And is Joyce Carol Oates' "The Accursed" really "horror"? Well, maybe.)
It should be no surprise that the busy and prolific Neil Gaiman is a finalist -- in three categories. (Fantasy, middle-grade and picture book.) Fortunately, because he lives in western Wisconsin and flies in and out of the Twin Cities, we get to claim him.
So. To the list. If you are a member of Goodreads (and it's easy to join, though controversial, since they were acquired by Amazon) you can vote. There are 25 semifinalists in each of 20 categories--a lot of books! Though some, such as Helene Wecker's highly praised "The Golem and the Jinni," are in multiple categories. (Fantasy, and Debut Novel.) (Wecker is a Carleton grad, and, thus, one of us.)
I'm not going to give you all the titles. You can find those yourself on Goodreads.com. But here are the Minnesota books (or Minnesota-tinged books). More than a million votes have been cast already, so it's quite impressive to make the seminfinals. Be proud!
Fiction: "The Orphan Train," by Christina Baker Kline. (She summers in Minnesota, and the book is partially set here.)
Mystery and thriller: "Ordinary Grace," by William Kent Kruger. (A resident of St. Paul.)
Fantasy: "The Golem and the Jinni," by Helene Wecker, and "The Ocean at the End of the Lane," by Neil Gaiman.
Nonfiction: "I Wear the Black Hat," by Chuck Klosterman. (Born here!)
Poetry: "Black Aperture," by Matt Rasmussen. "Incarnadine," by Mary Szybist (published by Minnesota's Graywolf Press). (We'll find out next week about the National Book Award -- both are in the running.)
Middle grade: "Fortunately, the Milk," by Neil Gaiman
Picture book: "Chu's Day," by Neil Gaiman.
Now go do your civic duty, and vote! Voting ends Saturday, and you can vote on the finalists beginning Monday. Good luck.
A history of the Scientology movement, a biography of Benjamin Franklin's sister, and a poetry collection published by Graywolf Press are among the finalists for the National Book Award, announced this morning on MSNBC's talk show, "Morning Joe."
And Minnesota poet Matt Rasmussen's debut collection, "Black Aperture," is among the finalists for poetry.
Rasmussen, born in International Falls, now lives in Robbinsdale and teaches at Gustavus Adolphus College. His book, "Black Aperture," also won the Walt Whitman Award. It was published by Louisiana State University Press.
Winners will be announced Nov. 20. Here's the whole list of finalists, with links to Star Tribune reviews, when available:
"Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin," by Jill Lepore
"Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields," by Wendy Lower. (Review runs next week.)
"The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America," by George Packer
"The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia 1772-1832," by Alan Taylor
"Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief," by Lawrence Wright.
"The Tenth of December," by George Saunders
"The Lowland," by Jhumpa Lahiri.
"The Bleeding Edge," by Thomas Pynchon. (Review scheduled.)
"The Flamethrowers," by Rachel Kushner
"The Good Lord Bird," by James McBride
Young People's LIterature:
"The True Blue Scouts of Sugarman Swamp," by Kathi Appelt
"The Thing About Luck," by Cynthia Kadohata
"Far, Far Away," by Tom McNeal
"Picture Me Gone," by Meg Rosoff
"Boxers and Saints," by Gene Luen Yang. Yang is a faculty member of Hamline University's low-residency MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults
"Metaphysical Dog," by Frank Bidart
"Illusion," by Lucie Brock-Broido
"The Big Smoke," by Adrian Matejka
"Incarnadine," by Mary Szybist, published by Minneapolis' Graywolf Press.
The 20 finalists were chosen from a long list, which included Minneapolis young-adult writers Anne Ursu and Kate DiCamillo. The winners will be announced Nov. 20 in New York.
Solomon had already won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Johnson's book had won the Pulitzer Prize.
The Dayton Literary Peace Prize carries an award of $10,000 and will be presented Nov. 3 in Dayton, Ohio.
This year's runners-up were "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk," by Ben Fountain (also winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award) and "Devil in the Grove," by Gilbert King.
The list of nominees had included Louise Erdrich's novel, "The Round House," winner of a National Book Award and a Minnesota Book Award, and a memoir of Romania, "Burying the Typewriter," published by Graywolf Press.
The peace prize is awarded annually to books that use the power of literature to foster peace and understanding.
The final long list for the National Book Awards was announced today--fiction, the one that so many were waiting for. It's a rich list, mostly big names--Alice McDermott won the National Book Award in 1998 for "Charming Billy"; Thomas Pynchon won the award in 1974; Jhumpa Lahiri has won the Pulitzer Prize, and George Saunders' collection of stories was boldly called the best book of the year--in January--by the New York Times.
And then there's Anthony Marra, with a debut novel.
Here's the list, with links to Strib reviews when available.
Tom Drury, "Pacific."
Elizabeth Graver, "The End of the Point."
Rachel Kushner, "The Flame Throwers."
Jhumpa Lahiri, "The Lowland." (Review runs this Sunday; Lahiri will be in town in October. This book is also short-listed for the Man Booker Prize.)
Anthony Marra, "A Constellation of Vita Phenomena."
James McBride, "The Good Lord Bird."
Alice McDermott, "Someone." (Review runs Sunday. She'll be at Common Good Book on Sept. 25.)
Thomas Pynchon, "Bleeding Edge" (Review runs later this fall.)
George Saunders, "The Tenth of December." (Saunders will kick off the Pen Pals Series in October.)
Joan Silber, "Fools."
Lists for young adult, poetry, and nonfiction were announced earlier in the week. The winner will be announced in November.
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