Pamuk Wins Nobel
Recently on trial for offending the concept of Turkishness, novelist Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel literature prize. Pamuk’s novels include the popular and critically acclaimed Snow and My Name is Red.

Finalist for the National Book Awards Announced
Here are the works and authors nominated for the National Book Awards: Fiction–Mark Danielewski’s Only Revolutions, Ken Kalfus’s A Disorder Peculiar to the Country, Dana Spiotta’s Eat the Document, and Jesse Walter’s The Zero; Nonfiction–Rajiv Chandraswekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone, Timothy Egan’s The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, and Peter Hessler’s Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present; Poetry—H.L. Hix’s Chromatic, Ben Lerner’s Angel of Yaw, Nathaniel Mackey’s Splay Anthem, and James McMichael’s Capacity.

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Poets Awarded
Carl Phillips recently received the Academy of American Poets’ Academy Fellowship, receiving $25,000. The academy selected the poet based on his work during the past 20 years.

MacArthur Fellowship winner and Sterling Professor Emeritus at Yale University John Hollander will be the new Poet Laureate for Connecticut starting next year. The 76-year-old poet will succeed Maryilyn Nelson. The state pays $1000 a year for the position.

Meanwhile the Poetry Foundation has named Jack Prelutsky as the First Children’s Poet Laureate, a $25,000 prize.

Frost Poem Discovered
The Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR) next week will publish a poetic tribute to a friend killed during The Great War by Robert Frost. University of Virginia graduate student Robert Stilling discovered the poem while during research with some Frost papers.

Burnside on Non-Fiction
In commenting on a letter written by Sharon Olds to Laura Bush, John Burnside writes: What makes this document powerful is, in part, its stylistic elegance, as it treads the fine line between political protest and the courtesy that any civilized human being owes to others, no matter how reprehensible their actions. Its effectiveness is enhanced…by the trust that a famously rigorous poet inspires; by the authority of one whose main pursuit is not money or fame but artistic integrity.

Quill Award Nominations

August 23, 2006

Quill Award Nominees Announced
It’s best described as the people’s choice awards for writing, not necessarily the best criteria for judging the value of a work but it is a measure. Starting yesterday and through September 30th, people can vote for their favorites. Nominees are as follows: Debut author of the year: William Alexander for
The $64 Tomato, Debra Dean for The Madonnas of Leningrad: A Novel, Raymond Khoury for The Last Templar, Julie Powel for Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, Mike Leonard for The Ride of Our Lives: Roadside Lessons of an American Family; General Fiction: David Mitchell for Black Swan Green, Christopher Moore for A Dirty Job, E.L. Doctorow for The March, Irene Nemirovsky for Suite Francaise, Sara Gruen for Water for Elephants; Poetry: Maya Angelou for Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem, Garrison Keillor for Good Poems for Hard Times, Mary Oliver for New and Selected Poems: Volume Two, Pablo Neruda for Still Another Day, and Billy Collins for The Trouble with Poetry.
There are also categories for audio books, children’s books, young adult books, graphic novels, myster, romance, science fiction, religion, biography, business, cooking, health, history, humor, and sports.
Winners will be announced on October 11th.

Can Creative Writing Be Taught?
It’s an ancient question. In a recent posting by Atlantic Unbound (the online publication of Atlantic magazine), the writer recalls the advice of Wallace Stegner, Francine Prose, John Galbraith, and others.

Why Fiction Matters
In a
New York Sun essay, “Matters of Imagination,” Eric Ormsby explores the practicality of literary fiction, despite the pressure of literary theorists efforts to rob it of such. Ormsby focuses on Edward Mendelson’s The Things that Matter: What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say about the Stages of Life.

Keillor Reads Skloot
Garrison Keillor is reading from Floyd Skloot’s newest collection of poems,
The End of Dreams. He’s doing it on Writers Almanac, a public radio program. Today the reading is “Brahms” by Robert Bly.

Brooklyn—A Literary Mecca
For me, Brooklyn has and will always represent something special. I great up in the borough, and on September 16 Borough President Marty Markowitz will host Jonathan Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss, Jonathan Lethem, Jhumpa Lahiri, Rick Moody, Colson Whitehead, and many others. Between 5000 and 15,000 people will celegrate Brooklyn’s literary stars. It’s nothing new for Brooklyn, it being the home for writings for centuries, such as Walt Whitman and Thomas Wolfe of
Look Homeward Angel.

The Dead of the Literary Novel?
Kristin Tillotson of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wonders: “
Nonfiction, once relegated to the “good for you, like oatmeal” shelf, has become the kind of fare readers choose for enjoyment. In this age of declining readership for all sorts of publications, any reading is good reading, right? Maybe. But does a de-emphasis of the literary novel — still the form of entertainment that requires the most engagement and conjecture on the reader’s part — coincide with a devaluation of the imagination?”

Booker Nominee Talks
John Freeman of the Book Critics Circle interviews Kate Grenville, whose
The Secret River
was nominated for the Man Booker Prize. Here’s her description of the book: “The book started with questions about my own settler ancestor and an uneasy realisation that his “settling” mightn’t have been as uncomplicated thing as the family stories suggested.”

Potter Vs. Blair—Tony Who?
According to a survey conducted by Zogby Inernational, more Americans know who Harry Porter is than Tony Blair.

Giving New Life to Children’s Classics
Michelle Pauli talks with Robert Ingpen about how illustrations give new life to children’s literature.

Literature or Misogyny?
Charlotte Higgins writes in the Guardian: “Irvine Welsh, creator of the heroin-consuming characters Begbie, Renton, Sick Boy and Spud in his debut novel Trainspotting, has been accused of misogyny in his latest work.”

Howling with Praise
Celebrating his teacher’s and mentor’s most famous work, poet Jason Shinder put together a collection of essays about Allen Ginsberg’s famous poem “Howl.” The book is entitled The Poem that Changed America: ‘Howl’ 50 Years Later. It includes a CD with a recording of the poem’s first reading. Read more.

Samuel Beckett: Millennium Poet Laureate?
“Samuel Beckett would have turned 100 this year, but in a sense he was always 100. One is almost tempted to say he was always 1,000. …No writer better deserves the title of Millennium Poet Laureate.” That’s the claim of Robert Brustein in his essay “Samuel Beckett: Millennium Poet Laureate” in the Chronicle Review.

Jersey Shore Literary?
During this month, I’m going to the Jersey Shore to witness the christening of my niece. It will be warm. Hopefully sunny. And a breeze will come off the Atlantic. All features I have associated with the Jersey shore. Literary is not one of them. Yet Suzy Hansen makes the point in her Slate essay about Richard Ford and Frederick Reiken.

Stupid Is as Stupid Does
Four days before her due date (Sept. 25), Turkish novelist Elif Shafak will go on trial for “insulting Turkishness”–a real charge under the country’s criminal code. Novelists Orhan Pamuk and Perihan Magden were also charged in separate cases. The charges in the case of these men were dropped. Shafak’s offense? Her Armenian character says: “I am the grandchild of genocide survivors who lost all their relatives in the hands of Turkish butchers in 1915.” The genocide is not fiction. It happened.
Other related
: Turkish court acquits author Perihan Magden, Interview: Elif Shafak, and Extract from The Flea Palace by Elif Shafak.

25 Books at a Time
Joe Queehan discusses his reading habits in his essay “Why I Can’t Stop Starting Books.” He wonders if he has “too long” an attention span.

Writers Should Explore
“If that makes things hard for the writer, it also makes things hard, in a different way, for the reader. On the one hand we are used to this being political territory, but on the other we want something very different from a novel than what we get from the newspapers: we want imaginative understanding, not political positions; we want to get close to a fictional individual rather than stand in judgment over a real group; we want the challenge of speculation rather than the reassurance of certainty. We want art, not news, at a time when news seems to be drowning out art,” writes Natasha Walter for the
Guardian. She discusses how writers such as Salman Rushdie, John Updike, Martin Amis, Joseph Conrad, Doris Lessing, and Don Delillo delved into topics that were politically unpleasant. At the same time, you might want to read what the blog Alt.Muslim has to say about Updike’s Terrorist. It’s a nice counterweight to Walter’s piece.

Who Are the Young Writers of Today?
The blog Critical Mass reviews an NBCC panel which discussed this subject this past weekend. The authors they mentioned include David Mitchell, Zadie Smith, Jonathan Safran Foer, Jhumpa Lahiri, Tom Bissell, Nathan Englander, Emily Barton, Stephen Elliot, Kelly Link, Daniel Alacon, Susan Choi, Allegra Goodman, Curtis Sittenfeld, Arthur Phillips, Daniel Handler, Julie Orringer, Benjamin Kunkel, Gary Shteyngart, Chris Abani, Dave Eggers, Colson Whitehead, and Whitney Terrell.

Why Can’t Writers Cross Genres?
“Why do so many brilliant fiction writers turn out atrocious dramas, and so many good playwrights produce bad novels? That’s the question Philip Hensher asks on the newly produced Exiles by James Joyce. Although I do wonder about his point of view. Novelist Sarah Schulman continues to write novels and plays, both rewarding and enriching.