Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Awards Roundup

Big news in the world of books this week is the winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction "for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life." Jennifer Egan was awarded the prestigious prize for her A Visit from the Goon Squad.

"Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa." - publisher

The Samuel Johnson Prize long list has been announced. The Samuel Johnson is a British award for the best in nonfiction writing. Last year's winner was Nothing to Envy: ordinary lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick. The prize is sponsored by the BBC and is worth 20,000 pounds to the winner.

Amongst this year's long list are:

Through the Language Glass: why the world looks different in other languages
by Guy Deutscher

The Hare with Amber Eyes: a sudden inheritance
by Edmund De Waal

Mao's Great Famine: the history of China's most devastating catastrophe, 1958-1962
by Frank Dikotter

Liberty's Exiles: American loyalists in the revolutionary world
by Maya Jasanoff

Caravaggio: a life sacred and profane
by Andrew Graham Dixon

People Who Eat Darkness: the fate of Lucie Blackman
by Richard Lloyd Parry

The Bridge: the life and rise of Barack Obama
by David Remnick

The Rational Optimist: how prosperity evolves
by Matt Ridley

Bismarck: a life
by Jonathan Steinberg

Storytellers: the life of Roald Dahl
by Donald Sturrock

Amexica: war along the borderline
by Ed Vulliamy

See the Samuel Johnson Prize page for the full list on nominees.

And finally, the J. Anthony Lukas prize was established in 1998 "to honor the best in American nonfiction writing". The J. Anthony Lukas book prize "($10,000) recognizes superb examples of nonfiction writing that exemplify literary grace, a commitment to serious research and social concern."

This year's winner is The Tenth Parallel: dispatches from the fault line between Christianity and Islam by Eliza Griswold. "The tenth parallel—the line of latitude seven hundred miles north of the equator—is a geographical and ideological front line where Christianity and Islam collide. More than half of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims live along the tenth parallel; so do sixty percent of the world’s 2 billion Christians. Here, in the buzzing megacities and swarming jungles of Africa and Asia, is where the two religions meet; their encounter is shaping the future of each faith, and of whole societies as well. An award-winning investigative journalist and poet, Eliza Griswold has spent the past seven years traveling between the equator and the tenth parallel: in Nigeria, the Sudan, and Somalia, and in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The stories she tells in The Tenth Parallel show us that religious conflicts are also conflicts about land, water, oil, and other natural resources, and that local and tribal issues are often shaped by religious ideas. Above all, she makes clear that, for the people she writes about, one’s sense of God is shaped by one’s place on earth; along the tenth parallel, faith is geographic and demographic. An urgent examination of the relationship between faith and worldly power, The Tenth Parallel is an essential work about the conflicts over religion, nationhood and natural resources that will remake the world in the years to come." - publisher

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