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)
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)
They were held 460 days, freed only after their families managed to raise $600,000 through fund-raisers, borrowing, donations, and other means. Lindhout (with New York Times magazine writer Sara Corbett) wrote a book about the experience, "A House in the Sky," newly out in paperback. (Here's a link to the Strib review.)
While still a captive, Lindhout decided that if she was ever freed, she would work to help bring education and development to Somalia. She has since established the nonprofit Global Enrichment Foundation, which works with people in Somalia and Kenya.
Lindhout will be in the Twin Cities at 7 p.m. Tuesday (June 24) at Open Book, 1011 Washington Av. S., Mpls., at an event co-sponsored by the American Refugee Committee, the Loft, and Magers & Quinn.
The shortlist for the PEN Literary Awards was announced today. Winners will be announced Sept. 29.
Here's the whole list, with links to our reviews, when available.
PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000): To an author whose debut work—a first novel or collection of short stories published in 2013—represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth), Anthony Marra
Brief Encounters With the Enemy (The Dial Press), Saïd Sayrafiezadeh
Everybody’s Irish (FiveChapters Books), Ian Stansel
Godforsaken Idaho (Little A/New Harvest), Shawn Vestal
The People in the Trees (Doubleday), Hanya Yanagihara
PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2013 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.
Forty-One False Starts (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Janet Malcolm
Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls (Little, Brown and Company), David Sedaris
The Faraway Nearby (Viking Adult), Rebecca Solnit
Critical Mass (Doubleday), James Wolcott
PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000): For a book of literary nonfiction on the subject of the physical or biological sciences published in 2013.
The End of Night (Little, Brown and Company), Paul Bogard
Five Days at Memorial (Crown), Sheri Fink
High Price (Harper), Carl Hart
Surfaces and Essences (Basic Books), Douglas Hofstadter & Emmanuel Sander
Wild Ones (Penguin Press), Jon Mooallem
PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2013.
Duppy Conqueror (Copper Canyon Press), Kwame Dawes
Leaving Tulsa (University of Arizona Press), Jennifer Elise Foerster
domina Un/blued (Tupelo Press), Ruth Ellen Kocher
Cowboys and East Indians (FiveChapters Books), Nina McConigley
Ghana Must Go (Penguin Press), Taiye Selasi
PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in 2013.
Lawrence in Arabia (Doubleday), Scott Anderson
Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Linda Leavell
Margaret Fuller (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Megan Marshall
American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Deborah Solomon
A Life of Barbara Stanwyck (Simon & Schuster), Victoria Wilson
PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To honor a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2013.
Collision Low Crossers (Little, Brown and Company), Nicholas Dawidoff
The Sports Gene (Current), David Epstein
League of Denial (Crown Archetype), Mark Fainaru-Wada & Steve Fainaru
The Emerald Mile (Scribner), Kevin Fedarko
Their Life’s Work (Simon & Schuster), Gary M. Pomerantz
PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing ($5,000): To a writer for an exceptional story illustrated in a picture book published in 2013.
Train (Orchard Books), Elisha Cooper
Tea Party Rules (Viking), Ame Dyckman
The King of Little Things (Peachtree Publishers), Bil Lepp
Crabtree (McSweeney’s McMullens), Jon & Tucker Nichols
PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2013.
Even Now: Poems by Hugo Claus (Archipelago), David Colmer
Diaries of Exile by Yannis Ritsos (Archipelago), Karen Emmerich & Edmund Keeley
Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson by Yosa Buson (Copper Canyon Press), Takako Lento & W.S. Merwin
Paul Klee’s Boat by Anzhelina Polonskaya (Zephyr Press), Andrew Wachtel
Cut These Words Into My Stone: Ancient Greek Epitaphs (Johns Hopkins University Press), Michael Wolfe
PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2013.
An Armenian Sketchbook by Vasily Grossman (New York Review Books), Elizabeth & Robert Chandler
Transit by Anna Seghers (New York Review Books), Margot Bettauer Dembo
The African Shore by Rodrigo Rey Rosa (Yale University Press), Jeffrey Gray
The Emperor’s Tomb by Joseph Roth (New Directions), Michael Hofmann
Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (New York Review Books), Joanne Turnbull & Nikolai Formozov
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.
It is always a wonderful and satisfying thing to hear that an unknown debut author has won a major prize for writing. It is not that we don't love the established writers and wish them success, but an unknown newbie rising to the top gives us hope and assurance--assurance that these competitions are fairly judged, that small independent presses are taken seriously, that the next generation of writers is as talented and accomplished (and brilliant) as the current.
And when the news that the unknown writer winning the big prize is being published in the United States by Minneapolis' Coffee House Press, well, the news is all the more welcome.
"A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing," by Irish writer Eimear McBride, was consistently rejected by mainstream publishers until last year, when it was picked up by tiny Galley Beggar Press in London. It will be published this fall by Coffee House Press.
Last week, McBride's novel won the Baileys Prize (formerly the Orange Prize); it was selected over many highly praised big novels by notable writers, including “The Goldfinch,” by Donna Tartt, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and “The Lowland,” by Jhumpa Lahiri, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize as well as the National Book Award.
“A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing” is the story of a young woman and her relationship with her brother, who has a brain tumor. The girl’s father abandons the family, her mother retreats into Catholicism, an uncle abuses her.
Coffee House Press publisher Chris Fischbach said McBride’s book floored him when he first read it, “not only by the powerful story, but by its urgent, assaulting syntax, which is both relentless and engrossing. By the time I finished, I was spent: artistically, emotionally, spiritually. I had never read anything like it. We are beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to publish the U.S. edition of this brilliant book.”
McBride’s writing can be difficult, at first, for the reader to penetrate; the book is written in long blocks of fragments with only sporadic punctuation. But critics have found the difficulty well worth the effort. The Star Tribune review, which will be published in September, calls the book “brave, dizzying, risk-taking fiction of the highest order.”
The Guardian called it “jaggedly uncompromising in both style and subject matter,” and Irish novelist Anne Enright called the book an “instant classic” and its author “a genius.”
McBride’s award follows a number of significant awards won recently by Coffee House Press authors, including Ron Padgett’s “Collected Poems,” which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award, and Patricia Smith’s “Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah,” which won the Wheatley Book Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets.
McBride’s book has also won the Goldsmiths Prize, was named Kerry Group Irish Novel of the year, and was shortlisted for the Folio Prize. The Baileys Prize carries an award of $50,000 and goes to the best novel written in English by a woman. Originally known as the Orange Prize, the award ended briefly in 2012 when Orange telecommunications ended its sponsorship. Baileys Irish Cream announced sponsorship this year.
The other finalists for this year’s Baileys Prize were “Americanah,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “The Undertaking,” by Audrey Magee, and “Burial Rites,” by Hannah Kent.
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