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Tag: literary prizes

August is Women in Translation Month

There are many, many book prizes out there, and I follow an awful lot of them. It is heartening to see the variety of work that is being published, but it also means that I am constantly aware of how many books I’m never going to get to.

I became aware of Women in Translation Month and the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation last year. Unlike just about every other award, the prize administrators put out a Google Doc of all the eligible entries, which you can find here (dreaded PDF format). A shortlist will be announced in a few weeks and the winner will be announced in November. Of the 92 entries I’ve read a grand total of 6:

I do have a number of them on the TBR as well, and while I doubt I’ll read them this month, I’ll read and then post reviews here on the blog as I work my way through my list. On the TBR:

  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
  • Katalin Street
  • Love in the New Millenium
  • The Remainder
  • Tokyo Ueno Station

And I’ve read other books by authors listed here, notably Samantha Schweblin and Leila Slimani.

I like this prize because it combines two categories that I try to read in: literature written by women and translated literature, and I always find books I’ve never heard of but which sound up my alley.

The Booker 2019 Longlist

This year’s Booker Prize longlist was announced today. I recognized every book on the list, which is a first for me. Booker completists are going to find it difficult to read every book if they’re not tied into the publishing industry (at a minimum through Netgalley) and even then, I doubt anyone that isn’t Very Important to Promotion is getting the Atwood before its very prominent launch in September. The list of 13, from a total of 151 submitted or called in:

  • Margaret Atwood (Canada), The Testaments (Vintage, Chatto & Windus)
  • Kevin Barry (Ireland), Night Boat to Tangier (Canongate Books)
  • Oyinkan Braithwaite (UK/Nigeria), My Sister, The Serial Killer (Atlantic Books)
  • Lucy Ellmann (USA/UK), Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press)
  • Bernardine Evaristo (UK), Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton)
  • John Lanchester (UK), The Wall (Faber & Faber)
  • Deborah Levy (UK), The Man Who Saw Everything (Hamish Hamilton)
  • Valeria Luiselli (Mexico/Italy), Lost Children Archive (4th Estate)
  • Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), An Orchestra of Minorities (Little Brown)
  • Max Porter (UK), Lanny (Faber & Faber)
  • Salman Rushdie (UK/India), Quichotte (Jonathan Cape)
  • Elif Shafak (UK/Turkey), 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World (Viking)
  • Jeanette Winterson (UK), Frankissstein (Jonathan Cape)

Of the thirteen, ten have already been published in the UK and the other three will be released between 29 August and 9 September (the Levy, Rushdie, and Atwood respectively). If you’re in the US and don’t want to pay import prices and/or wait for Book Depository/Blackwell to send you the print copies, I’ve found seven available either in ebook or hardback form.

I have five books in hand and have read a sixth (Lanny, reviewed here). The other four UK-published books are all available via KoboUK, so I’ll work my way through the five I have and then pick up the others as I go along. As in previous years, I’ll post my thoughts about the books here.

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The literary awards season is upon us

Yesterday the Giller Prize longlist was announced. Last week the National Book Awards longlists were announced, comprising four old and one new categories: fiction, poetry, nonfiction, juvenile fiction, and now translated fiction. On Thursday the Booker shortlist is announced, and then next week the Goldsmiths shortlist is announced. That’s a lot of potential books to read. And no, I’m not planning on reading all of them. I will finish the Booker longlist (and keep posting my reviews). I have 1 1/2 books to go and hope to have the 1/2 done by Thursday. I’m intrigued by the Giller list and I’ve only read one book from the longlist, Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, which is also a Booker longlist nominee. I’m planning to sample as many books as I can from the Giller and NBA longlists, but there’s no way I can read them before the shortlists are announced in October. I really enjoyed my Giller readings last year, though, not least because I hadn’t even heard of many of the books. The US literary industry is terrible at covering Canadian lit until there’s an award nomination unless the person is already well known. Here’s the longlist from the CBC website (links go to CBC pages which tell you more about the books and authors: Read the rest of this entry »

Recent reading: Awards season

I’m still reading, somewhat more slowly given other demands, but steadily. Fall is awards season in literature-land and new short and long lists are popping up all over. And of course October is when the Nobel Prize in Literature is announced. This year the committee went for a candidate whose choice lots of people could understand and approve: Kazuo Ishiguro. Like many readers, I’ve read Remains of the Day, and we have several other books of his on our shelves. I didn’t love Remains of the Day, which I read soon after it came out, so I hesitated to read more from him, but that was definitely my problem not his. It’s a brilliant, lovely book, but I encountered it just when I was really tired of reading about the travails of comfortably situated white people and I couldn’t see past that, even though I could see the quality and artistry. I need to reread it, but that will have to wait until I’ve read some of the other works. I’m especially looking forward to The Buried Giant.

Man with seagull coverI read one more off the Not The Booker Prize list and loved it: Man With A Seagull on His Head by Harriet Paige. It’s a debut novel from a small press and it’s just as quirky as the title suggests, but it’s also insightful and quietly satisfying. It tells the story of artist Ray Eccles and the people around him. Ray is (literally) hit on the head by a diving seagull while he’s at the beach and he becomes obsessed with painting a woman he saw there at the same time. He’s discovered by a couple, George and Grace Zoob, who find and publicize “outsider artists,” and becomes quite a sensation. I hesitate to describe Ray as an artist, although he clearly produces art, because I think of artists as guided by intentionality, and Ray is compelled to paint rather than choosing to do so. His talent and fame affect the Zoobs and their young daughter, as well as the object of his paintings, Jennifer Mulholland, and Ray himself. The story is told from multiple POVs and stretches over a couple of decades despite being a fairly short book. And there is a pigeon. It’s a meditation on art, loneliness, attachment, and other aspects of the human condition, all told in an understated, unpretentious but deeply thoughtful way.

I also discovered that one of the major Canadian literary prizes, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, had just released its shortlist this week:

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