Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked since 1996. She is the author of "News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist," winner of a Minnesota Book Award.

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Long lists, short lists, prizes galore

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: July 23, 2014 - 12:08 PM
Joshua Ferris. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan.

Joshua Ferris. Photo by Beowulf Sheehan.

So much prize news this morning that I'm just going to round it all up in one place. We have the Man Booker Prize longlist (with Americans, for the first time!); the Dylan Thomas prize longlist (hello, Coffee House Press!), and the New Rivers Many Voices prizes for both poetry and prose (hello, California and Duluth!).

Worth noting: Joshua Ferris' novel, "To Rise Again at a Decent Hour" is on the longlist for both the Booker Prize and the Dylan Thomas Prize.

The Man Booker Prize longlist

This is the first year that the prestigious British literary prize has been opened to any author who writes in English. Previously, the award was restricted to writers of Ireland, UK and its commonwealth. The list includes Northfield, Minn., native Siri Hustvedt. Several of the titles have not yet been released in the United States.

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris (Viking)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent's Tail)
The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt (Sceptre)
J,  Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape) 
The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)
The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Sceptre)
The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee (Chatto & Windus)
Us, David Nicholls (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Dog, Joseph O'Neill (Fourth Estate)
Orfeo, Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
How to be Both,  Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
History of the Rain, Niall Williams (Bloomsbury) 

The Man Booker Prize carries an award of 50,000 British pounds (about $85,000). The short list will be announced Sept. 9 and the winner Oct. 14.

The Dylan Thomas Prize

The Dylan Thomas Prize, named for the Welsh poet and administered by Swansea College in Wales, goes to a writer 39 years old or younger. Included on this list is "A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing," winner of the Baileys Award (formerly the Orange Prize) and to be published this fall by Coffee House Press.

Eimear McBride

Eimear McBride

Daniel Alarcón, At Night We Walk in Circles
Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
John Donnelly, The Pass
Joshua Ferris, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
Emma Healey, Elizabeth is Missing
Meena Kandasamy, The Gypsy Goddess
Eimear McBride, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
Kseniya Melnik, Snow in May
Kei Miller, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion
Nadifa Mohamed, The Orchard of Lost Souls
Owen Sheers, Mametz
Tom Rob Smith, The Farm
Rufi Thorpe, The Girls from Corona del Mar
Naomi Wood, Mrs Hemingway
Hanya Yanagihara, The People in the Trees

Many Voices Project, New Rivers Press

The Many Voices Project of New Rivers Press began in 1981 and seeks to highlight new and emerging writers in poetry and prose.

The prize includes $1,000 and publication. This year's winner in poetry is Julie Gard of Duluth, and the winner in prose is Tracy Robert of southern California. Gard's poetry collection, "Home Studies," and Robert's book, "Flashcards & The Curse of Ambrosia," will be released in October 2015.

And that brings us to...

Minneapolis writer Kate DiCamillo, so recently honored with her second Newbery Award, the Christopher Medal, the Library of Congress National Ambassadorship to Young People's Literature, the AP Anderson Award, and the Guardian Children's Prize longlist, has yet another honor. (We don't know how big her house is but we are thinking she might need an addition for all of these trophies). DiCamillo has been awarded the Voice of the Heartland Award, which honors writers and institutions that value independent bookselling. DiCamillo was the brains and the enthusiasm behind the establishment this year of the first Indies First Storytime Day, a day in which writers and illustrators read books (not their own) to children in local indie bookstores. DiCamillo read to a throng at Chapter2 Books in Hudson, Wis.

She will be presented with the Voice of the Heartland award Sept. 30 at the annual Heartland Fall Forum trade show in Minneapolis.

Augsburg College author gets the 'Colbert bump'

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: July 22, 2014 - 4:39 PM
Stephan Eirik Clark

Stephan Eirik Clark. Augsburg College photo by Stephen Geffre

A second debut novelist got the "Colbert bump" last night on the "The Colbert Report"--this time it was St. Paul author Stephan Eirik Clark, who teaches at Augsburg College. His novel, "Sweetness No. 9"--which will be published Aug. 19--was recommended on the show by novelist Edan Lepucki.

Overnight, his book shot up from being unlisted on Powell's Books best-seller list, to number three.

Lepucki was paying it forward; her own debut novel, "California," became a New York Times best-seller after Colbert recommended it a few weeks ago as part of his attack on Amazon.

Colbert's love for first-time Hachette authors and disdain for Amazon stems from an ongoing dispute between the publishing group and the internet retailer over e-book pricing. Authors and customers are caught in the middle, as Amazon has severely restricted sales of Hachette books. (This includes books published by Grand Central, Little Brown, Hyperion, and others, and it includes authors J.K. Rowling, Kate Atkinson and David Baldacci. It also includes Lepucki and Clark--and Colbert.)

Not-yet-published Hachette books, such as Clark's, are listed on Amazon as "currently unvailable," with no option for pre-ordering. Other Hachette books face five- and six-week delays in shipping. Colbert has asked his viewers to buy books--specifically, Hachette books--from independent booksellers, and his first recommendation was for Lepucki's "California." He challenged viewers to make it a best-seller, and they did.

"Is there another Hachette author that you'd like to recommend?" Colbert asked Lepucki night. "I'm reading Stephan Eirik Clark's 'Sweetness No 9,' which is sooo good," Lepucki said. (She later said on Twitter that the book is "funny, moving, like DeLillo crossed with AM Homes.")

Clark said this morning that when his publisher and agent told him yesterday that his book would be bumped on the Colbert Report, he was left uncharacteristically speechless.

"You'd think I would burst out with an excited speech, but I just didn’t have anything to say," he said. "It was too good for words."

Clark's first book, a collection of short stories called "Vladimir's Mustache," was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award. "Going with a small press for my collection, I didn’t expect to find readers," he said. "I’ve experienced the absence of readers, and so it’s encouraging to think that this one might find a readership, and I'm extremely grateful."

Guardian Children's Prize longlist includes Kate DiCamillo

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: July 1, 2014 - 10:30 AM

Kate DiCamillo is just back from Las Vegas ("exhausted and overjoyed," she says on Facebook), where she was picking up the Newbery Medal that she won earlier in the year for "Flora & Ulysses," her funny, charming and poignant story about a girl, a squirrel and a vacuum cleaner. And she now finds herself on another longlist for yet another prize.

The Guardian of London has announced its longlist for The Guardian Children's Prize, a list that was described as being "challenging, funny, exciting, beautiful, thoughtful, bonkers," according to one of the judges, writer Gillian Cross.

DiCamillo's "Flora & Ulysses" is on the list, along with seven other books. Here's the list, with the UK publishers listed. (DiCamillo's US publisher is Candlewick.) The short list will be announced in August, and the winner will be annonced on Nov. 13.

"The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby: Flora in Love," by Natasha Farrant (Faber)

"Phoenix," by SF Said (David Fickling)

"Flora and Ulysses," by Kate DiCamillo (Walker)

"The Dark Wild," by Piers Torday (Quercus)

"Shine," by Candy Gourlay (David Fickling)

"We Were Liars," by E Lockhart (Hot Key Books)

"She Is Not Invisible," by Marcus Sedgwick (Orion)

"The Lost Gods," by Francesca Simon (Faber)

I don't want to jinx anyone, but wouldn't it be fun to have her report on Facebook in November that she is just back from London, exhausted and overjoyed?

More award (nominations) for William Kent Krueger

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: June 24, 2014 - 10:46 AM

William Kent Krueger's 2013 novel, "Ordinary Grace," was a departure for him. A coming of age story set in a small Minnesota town in the1960s, it was centered on a mysterious death, but there was no Cork O'Connor to come to the rescue. Just the gentle storytelling of the protagonist.

The book has gone on to be his most honored novel yet, winning the Edgar Award for best novel, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award for best fiction, the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association Dilys Award, and the Left Coast Crime "Squid" award for best mystery set within the United States. (Yes, they have awards for everything.) It's made the short list for at least three others.

Now it's on the short list for the Mystery Readers International Macavity Awards, up against such heavyweights as last year's winner, Louise Penny, Ian Rankin, and Thomas H. Cook. The winner will be announced in November.

Here's the full list:

Best Mystery Novel

Sandrine’s Case by Thomas H. Cook (Mysterious Press)

Dead Lions by Mick Herron (Soho Crime)

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (Atria Books)

The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood (Penguin Books)

How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)

Standing in Another Man’s Grave by Ian Rankin (Reagan Arthur Books)

Best First Mystery 

Yesterday’s Echo by Matt Coyle (Oceanview Publishing)

Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman (Minotaur Books)

Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman (Ballantine Books)

Norwegian by Night by Derek Miller (Faber & Faber)

A Killing at Cotton Hill by Terry Shames (Seventh Street Books)

Best Mystery Short Story 

“The Terminal” by Reed Farrel Coleman (Kwik Krimes, edited by Otto Penzler; Thomas & Mercer)

“The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository” by John Connolly (Bibliomysteries: Short Tales about Deadly Books, edited by Otto Penzler; Bookspan)

“The Dragon’s Tail” by Martin Limon (Nightmare Range: The Collected Sueno and Bascom Short Stories, Soho Books)

“The Hindi Houdini” by Gigi Pandian (Fish Nets: The Second Guppy Anthology, edited by Ramona DeFelice Long; Wildside Press)

“Incident on the 405” by Travis Richardson (The Malfeasance Occasional: Girl Trouble, edited by Clare Toohey; Macmillan)  

“The Care and Feeding of Houseplants” by Art Taylor (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, March/April 2013)

Best Nonfiction

The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley's Masterpiece by Roseanne Montillo (William Morrow)

Being Cool: The Work of Elmore Leonard by Charles J. Rzepka (Johns Hopkins University Press)

The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower (Minotaur Books)

Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award  A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins (Minotaur Books)

Saving Lincoln by Robert Kresge (ABQ Press)

Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses by Catriona McPherson (Minotaur Books)

Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell (Little, Brown)

Ratlines by Stuart Neville (Soho Crime) 

Louise Erdrich's O. Henry Prize-winning story inspired by childhood memories

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: June 13, 2014 - 10:56 AM

The advance copy of "The O. Henry Prize Stories 2014" landed on my desk last week while I was out of town. The annual anthology was edited this year by Laura Furman and dedicated to Alice Munro, the Canadian writer who thrilled all lovers of the short story everywhere last year when she won the Nobel Prize. Furman herself is the author of seven books, including "The Mother Who Stayed," a collection of stories, and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship.

Among this year's 20 O. Henry Award winners is Minnneapolis writer Louise Erdrich, who won for "Nero," which ran in the New Yorker. Other winners include the great Irish writer William Trevor, who could probably win every year; Laura van den Berg, and Stephen Dixon.

In the notes at the back of the book, Erdrich recounts how she came to write "Nero":  

"My grandparents really had a dog named Nero who escaped continually from the backyard," she writes, in part. "The misery of his life contrasted deeply with the characters of my tough but kind grandparents. I never knew what to make of Nero until suddenly, one morning, I was writing this story. ... The python lyceum, as well, was based on a real show. It is my most enthralling memory from grade two at Zimmerman Elementary School in Wahpeton" (North Dakota).

Aging grandparents, an escaping dog, a python lyceum? If you're not a New Yorker subscriber, this is a story to track down. Or wait for the collection, which pubs Sept. 9. 

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