Judges Walter Kirn, Nelly Rosario and A.J. Verdelle sifted through 350 novels and story collections before choosing the five finalists for this year's PEN/Faulkner Award -- and two of the finalists were published by Minneapolis' Coffee House Press.
Laird Hunt's "Kind One" and T. Geronimo Johnson's "Hold it 'til it Hurts" are up against "Threats," by Amelia Gray; "Watergate," by Thomas Mallon, and "Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club," by Benjamin Alire Saenz.
In a review for the Star Tribune, book critic Kathryn Lang called Hunt's book "a mesmerizing novel of sin and expiation," comparing Hunt's language to that of novelist Charles Frazier, "Biblically-tinged and spare."
Johnson's novel is a narrative of post-Katrina New Orleans, told by a black veteran of the Gulf War. "Johnson is bringing the news here, rendering beautifully the pleasures (silverware in drawers instead of bins) and pitfalls (guilty liberals at the bar) facing soldiers at home," wrote novelist Matt Burgess in his review for the Star Tribune.
The PEN/Faulkner Award is America's largest peer-juried prize for fiction. The winner will receive $15,000 and the four finalists will each receive $5,000. The winner will be announced on March 19, and all five authors will be honored at a ceremony at the Folger Shakespare Library in May.
D.A Powell is one of the stars of Minneapolis' notable Graywolf Press. The press has published three volumes of his poetry, including, "Chronic," and "Cocktails," as well as his most recent collection.
Last night, that most recent collection, "Useless Landscape, or, A Guide for Boys," won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. Powell had been a finalist for the NBCC award once before, for "Cocktails." He's also been a Guggenheim Fellow and has won a California Book Award, and has lectured at Harvard University.
In 2010, Powell won the Kingsley Tufts Award, one of poetry's most prestigious honors (and most lucrative--the prize is $100,000).
The Strib review of "Useless Landscape" is here.
Other winners last night include Andrew Solomon for "Far From the Tree," Ben Fountain for "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk," Robert Caro's "The Passage of Power," Leanne Shapton's "Swimming Studies," and Marina Warner's "Stranger Magic."
MHS Express, a new digital imprint at the Minnesota Historical Society Press, features short-form pieces from a variety of places: new, unpublished essays; excerpts from upcoming titles; chapters and essays from older MHS books.
New titles include pieces by Ka Vang, Annette Atkins, and Will Weaver. Remember the hearbreaking movie, "Sweet Land"? It was an adaptation of one of Weaver's short stories, "A Gravestone Made of Wheat," which is now available as a stand-alone e-book.
Vang's e-book, "The Good Hmong Girl Eats Raw Laab," comes from "Hmong and American: From Refugees to Citizens."
Other authors whose work is--or will be--offered on MHS Express include Jim Ragsdale, Rhoda Gilman, Philip J. Anderson, and Richard Moe.
The books are available through kindle, nook, kobo and iTunes, and so far the prices range from 99 cents to $1.99.
Poet Jon Pineda has won the 2013 Milkweed National Fiction Prize. His debut novel, "Apology," will be published by the Minneapolis literary press in June.
The prize is awarded annually to a writer who has not been previously published by Milkweed. Past winners include Danielle Sosin, for "The Long-Shining Waters," Susan Straight for "Aquaboogie," Larry Watson for "Montana 1948," and David Rhodes for "Driftless."
Pineda is an award-winning poet and the author of a memoir, "Sleep in Me," which was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. He lives in Virginia with his family.
The 30 finalists for this year’s National Book Critics Circle Awards were announced Monday, and Minneapolis’ Graywolf Press has two books in the running. Kevin Young’s “The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness,” is a finalist in criticism, and D.A. Powell’s “Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys,” is a finalist in poetry.
The NBCC awards, established in 1974, is the only award that is bestowed by working critics and book-review editors.
The winners will be announced Feb. 28. Here’s the full list of finalists:
Katherine Boo, “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity” (this book also won the National Book Award); Steve Coll, “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power”; Jim Holt. “Why Does the World Exist? An Existential Detective Story”; David Quammen, “Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic”; Andrew Solomon, “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity.”
Reyna Grande, “The Distance Between Us”; Maureen N. McLane, “My Poets”; Anthony Shadid,“House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East”; Leanne Shapton, “Swimming Studies”; Ngugi wa Thiong’o, “In the House of the Interpreter.”
Robert A. Caro,“The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson”; Lisa Cohen, “All We Know: Three Lives”; Michael Gorra, “Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece”; Lisa Jarnot, “Robert Duncan, The Ambassador from Venus: A Biography”; Tom Reiss, “The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo.”
Paul Elie, “Reinventing Bach”; Daniel Mendelsohn, “Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture”; Mary Ruefle, “Madness, Rack, and Honey”; Marina Warner, “Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights”; Kevin Young, “The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness.”
David Ferry, “Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations”; Lucia Perillo, “On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths”; Allan Peterson, “Fragile Acts”; D.A. Powell, “Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys”; A.E. Stallings, “Olives.”
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