Book News: Man Booker Prize To Be Opened To Americans
The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Britain's most prestigious literary award will be opened to Americans next year. The Man Booker Prize is currently open to writers from the 54 countries in the Commonwealth and the Republic of Ireland. According to a report in The Sunday Times, "The organisers increasingly believe that excluding writers from America is anachronistic. The Booker committee believes US writers must be allowed to compete to ensure the award's global reputation." The weekend announcement was met with decidedly mixed reactions: Howard Jacobson, whose novel The Finkler Question won the award in 2010, told The Telegraph that it was "the wrong decision," and Jim Crace, the only British writer on this year's shortlist, said in The Independent that "I think prizes need to have their own characters, and sometimes those characters are defined by their limitations." But Kazuo Ishiguro, another former Booker winner, said that "the world has changed and it no longer makes sense to split up the writing world in this way." In some ways, the move feels inevitable: Four of the authors on this year's shortlist already live, or have recently lived, in the U.S.
- NPR's Bill Chappell reported Saturday that a completely bookless public library has opened in Texas. The all-digital facility has "600 e-readers and 48 computer stations, in addition to laptops and tablets." Chappell added, "People can also come for things like kids' story time and computer classes, according to the library's website.
- Joyce Maynard, the writer who had an affair with J.D. Salinger as a teenager, wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times: "To a stunning degree, for a period of over half a century, Salinger managed to convince a significant portion of the reading population that his words and actions should be exempt from scrutiny for the simple reason that he wrote those nine stories, and "The Catcher in the Rye." And because he said so."
Update at 8:05 a.m. ET: On Monday morning, one of four longlists for the National Book Awards was announced on The Daily Beast. The 10 nominees in the "young people's literature" category are:
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell
A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff
The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Far Far Away by Tom McNeal
Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
The Real Boy by Anne Ursu, illustrated by Erin McGuire
Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang
The longlists for poetry, nonfiction and fiction will be announced later this week.
The biggest books coming out this week:
- Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge is full of his trademark jangly, slangy prose-riffs and Quirky characters with Quirky names, mostly world-weary hackers who say things like, "Word around the cubes is ... ." Whether you think he's the prophet-genius of the Internet age or a smug narcissist who insists, inexplicably, on writing "sez" instead of "says," Bleeding Edge proves, once again, that there is no one quite like Pynchon.
- Men We Reaped is Jesmyn Ward's electric and painful memoir about five young men, including her brother, who died over the course of a few years in a small town in Mississippi. She told NPR's Rachel Martin: "I see history, I see racism, I see economic disempowerment, I see all of these things, you know, that come together, or that came together, sort of in this perfect storm here in southern Mississippi, and I feel like that is what is bearing down on our lives."