Book Award Season

Kazuo Ishiguro, 63, has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, an award that is for an author’s whole body of work. He is a British writer who was born in Japan. His novels include Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go, and A Pale View of Hills. Here is my review for his latest novel, The Buried Giant. Recent winners include Bob Dylan (a controversial selection), Svetlana Alexievich, Patrick Modiano, and Alice Munro.
Fall is book award season. On October 17, the Man Booker Prize for Fiction will be announced. These books are on the shortlist:

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Elmet by Fiona Mozley Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Autumn by Ali Smith

On November 15, the spotlight will be on the National Book Awards. Here is the Fiction short list:

Dark at the Crossing by Elliot Ackerman
The Leavers by Lisa Ko
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

The Non-Fiction short list for the National Book Awards is:

Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar
The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America by Frances FitzGerald
The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLean

The American Library Association Carnegie Medals were established in 2012. Last year the awards went to Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, and Evicted by Matthew Desmond. The long list is here, the short list will be announced on October 25.
There is a wide variety of book awards. Another major literary award is the Pulitzer Prize. Awards for mysteries include the Agatha, the Anthony, and the Edgar. The Anthony Awards will be announced at Bouchercon on October 15. Science fiction & fantasy books get Hugo, Locus, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards. The Hugos were presented in August at WorldCon in Helsinki, Finland. Cookbooks, horror novels, thrillers, romance novels, and audiobooks all have their awards. It can be fun to look at the award winners and finalists to get reading suggestions or ideas for your book group. For more lists, check out the Notable Books lists from the New York Times and the American Library Association. I read some award winners, usually to see if my book groups would enjoy them, but I only read a few award winners.
Please read whatever appeals to you, right now. If you’re in the mood for something lighter, I have a book display of cat and dog mysteries, as well as a display with zombie books. For more popular titles, check out American Library Association’s Reading List, Library Reads, or ask your friendly readers advisory librarian or bookseller.
Happy reading!

Ancillary Justice

ancillary justice jacketAncillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Breq is a soldier, visiting the icy world of Nilt, in search of an unscannable weapon to help in her quest of revenge against the leader of the Radch. Breq is also Justice of Toren, a spaceship that is two thousand years old, and was most recently a troop carrier in orbit around the planet of Shis’urna. In debut novelist Leckie’s universe, a starship is run by an artificial intelligence, and the same AI also has dozens of soldiers, in formerly human bodies known as ancillaries. Breq was 19 Eck. On Nilt, Breq rescues and treats the unconscious Seivarden Vendaii, a former officer on Justice of Toren who has outlived all her relatives and is addicted to kef. Breq and Seivarden, who doesn’t recognize her, have adventures while the reader learns their stories. Breq is remembering something that happened in a temple on Shis’urna, and a later incident on the starship involving a favorite officer, Lieutenant Awn. The conquering Radch are inclusive of different religions, but intolerant of civil unrest. To make things more confusing, the Radch, who have spread through many galaxies, have no gender in their language so everyone is referred to as she or her. A brilliantly imaginative book that has swept the major science fiction/fantasy awards, this book is also challenging and can be confusing. Several days after finishing this book, I’m still thinking about it, and just re-read the first chapter. This book was published a year ago, and the sequel, Ancillary Sword, has recently become available. I’m looking forward to seeing where Leckie’s creativity will take Breq in Ancillary Sword, and the final, not-yet-published book. Suggested for fans of C. J. Cherryh, John Scalzi, and Anne McCaffrey’s The Ship Who Sang.



Book Awards Update

Are you looking for some new literary fiction or non-fiction? Here are some books to consider: dear life jacket

Alice Munro, Canadian short-story writer, recently won the Nobel Prize for Literature. She is the only short story writer to win. Her latest collection is Dear Life: Stories. The last four stories in the book are semi-autobiographical. Most of her stories are set in small towns in southwestern Ontario.

The Man Booker Prize has just been awarded to Eleanor Catton for her new fiction book The Luminaries. At 28, she is the youngest winner. It is a long novel, set in Hokitika, New Zealand in the 1860s, during the gold rush. luminaries jacket

 Finalists for the National Book Award have just been announced. The award ceremony will be held on November 20.  

Fiction Finalists

Kushner, Rachel. The Flamethrowers

Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Lowland

McBride, James. The Good Lord Bird

Pynchon, Thomas. Bleeding Edge

Saunders, George. Tenth of November 

Non-Fiction Finalists

Lepore, Jill. Book of Ages

Lower, Wendy. Hitler’s Furies

Packer, George. The Unwinding

Taylor, Alan. The Internal Enemy

Wright, Lawrence. Going Clear


Finalists for Poetry and Young People’s Literature can be found here.


Spring Book Award News

Several book awards have been announced recently. Here is an up-to-date list of the winners of a wide variety of book awards. More awards will be announced soon; I’ll update this list this summer. Brenda

Award Winning Fiction and Non-Fiction, 2012-2013

Christian Fiction Awards

Christy Awards, 2012

Contemporary: Tatlock, Ann. Promises to Keep.

Contemporary Romance: Kendig, Ronie. Wolfsbane.

Contemporary Series: Clark, Mindy Stars & Leslie Gould. The Amish Midwife.

Historical: Austin, Lynn. Wonderland Creek.

Historical Romance: Klassen, Julie. The Maid of Fairbourne Hall.

Suspense: James, Steven. The Queen.

Visionary: Stengle, Ann Elisabeth. Veiled Rose.

First Novel: Yttrup, Ginny. Words.

Horror Awards

Bram Stoker Awards, 2011

Best Novel: McKinney, Joe. Flesh Eaters. 

Best First Novel: Bird, Allyson. Isis Unbound.

Literary Awards

Carnegie Medal, 2012: Enright, Anne. The Forgotten Waltz.

Man Booker Prize, 2012: Mantel, Hilary. Bring Up the Bodies.

National Book Award for Fiction, 2012: Erdrich, Louise. The Round House.

National Book Award for Non-Fiction, 2012: Boo, Katherine. Behind the Beautiful Forevers.

Nobel Prize for Literature, 2012: Mo Yan

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2013: Johnson, Adam. The Orphan Master’s Son.

Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, 2013: Kings, Gilbert. Devil in the Grove

(for more Pulitzer awards, visit the Pulitzer website.)

Women’s Prize for Fiction, 2012: Miller, Madeline. The Song of Achilles.

 Mystery Awards

Agatha Awards, 2012

Best Novel: Penny, Louise. The Beautiful Mystery.

Best First Novel: Boyer, Susan M. Lowcountry Boil.

Anthony Awards, 2012

Best Novel: Penny, Louise. A Trick of the Light.

Best First Novel: Henry, Sara. Learning to Swim.

Best Paperback Original: Hyzy, Julie. Buffalo West Wing.

Edgar Allan Poe Awards, 2013

Best Novel: Lehane, Dennis. Live by Night.

Best First Novel: Pavone, Chris. The Expats.

Best Paperback Original: Winters, Ben H. The Last Policeman.

Best Fact Crime: French, Paul. Midnight in Peking.

Romance Awards

Rita Awards, 2012

Best First Book: Jones, Darynda. First Grave on the Right.

Contemporary Series Romance: Morgan, Sarah. Doukakis’s Apprentice. 

Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure: Dees, Cindy. Soldier’s Last Stand.

Contemporary Single Title Romance: Lowe, Fiona. Boomerang Bride.

Historical Romance: Bourne, Joanna. The Black Hawk.

Inspirational Romance: Miller, Serena. The Measure of Katie Calloway.

Novel with Strong Romantic Elements: O’Neal, Barbara. How To Bake a Perfect Life.

Paranormal Romance: Harrison, Thea. Dragon Bound .

Regency Historical Romance: Dare, Tessa. A Night to Surrender.

Romance Novella: Linden, Caroline. I Love the Earl.

Romantic Suspense: Robb, J.D. New York To Dallas.

Science Fiction & Fantasy Awards

Arthur C. Clarke Award, 2013

Beckett, Chris. Dark Eden.

Hugo Awards, 2012

Novel: Walton, Jo. Among Others.

Novella: Johnson, Kij. “The Man Who Bridged the Mist”, in Asimov’s, Sept./Oct. 2011.

Novelette: Anders, Charlie Jane. “Six Months, Three Days”, on

Best Short Story: Liu, Ken. “The Paper Menagerie”, in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March/April 2011.

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, 2012: E. Lily Yu.

Nebula Awards, 2011

Novel: Walton, Jo. Among Others.

Novella: Johnson, Kij. “The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” in Asimov’s Science Fiction, October/November 2011.

Novelette: Ryman, Geoff  “What We Found,” in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September/October 2011.

World Fantasy Award, 2012

Novel: Tidhar, Lavie. Osama.

Novella: Parker, K.J. “A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong” in Subterranean Press, Winter 2011.

 Western Awards

Spur Awards, 2012

Best Western Long Novel. Harrigan, Stephen. Remember Ben Clayton.

Best Original Paperback Novel: Boggs, Johnny. West Texas Kill.

Best Western Short Novel: Boggs, Johnny. Legacy of a Lawman.

Best First Novel: Mims, Meg. Double Crossing.


Bring Up the Bodies

mantel jacketBring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall won a major literary award and is a memorable, rewarding book to read. Its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, might be even better. Shorter by 120 pages, it’s certainly a faster read. Both novels are about Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII, and both won the Man Booker Prize for best novel in English by a writer from Great Britain or the Commonwealth. Even though it’s shorter, Bring Up the Bodies has more about Cromwell’s earlier life and family, including his father the blacksmith. The storytelling is magnificent and the book is quite readable, something I don’t expect in a literary award-winning novel. I don’t know how it would be to read it without having read Wolf Hall first, but if your time is limited, jump in. When the book opens in 1535, Thomas Cromwell is secretary to Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn is queen, and her daughter Elizabeth is a toddler. Anne becomes pregnant, and hopes for an heir for Henry VIII. Anne’s predecessor Katherine is in failing health. The reader knows that Elizabeth will later become queen, and that Anne Boleyn’s life will be cut short, but Mantel still makes the story absorbing, poignant, and occasionally suspenseful. Thomas Cromwell is still good company, looking to the future of his son Gregory, nephew Richard, and protégé Rafe, while doing his best for king and country. It becomes clear that Henry is also looking ahead, and hoping that quiet Jane Seymour is part of his future. A third book, The Mirror and the Light, is planned.


Fall Book News: Recent Award Winners and Finalists

So many book awards and finalists have been announced this fall that I’m grouping them all together. Readers will find literary fiction, non-fiction, poetry, mystery, science fiction and fantasy, and books for children and young adults.

I know I’ll be looking at these lists for ideas for future book discussions.



ANTHONY AWARDS, 2012 [Mystery]


Penny, Louise. A Trick of the Light. 


Henry, Sara J. Learning to Swim. 


Hyzy, Julie. Buffalo West Wing 


Cameron, Dana. “Disarming” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, June, 2011)


HUGO AWARDS, 2012 [Science Fiction and Fantasy]


Among Others, Jo Walton  


‘‘The Man Who Bridged the Mist’’, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s 10-11/11) 


‘‘Six Months, Three Days’’, Charlie Jane Anders ( 6/8/11) 


‘‘The Paper Menagerie’’, Ken Liu (F&SF 3-4/11) 




The winner will be announced October 16, 2012. 

Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists  

Deborah Levy, Swimming Home 

Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies  

Alison Moore, The Lighthouse  

Will Self, Umbrella  

Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis 



Winners to be Announced November 14, 2012 


Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her  

Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King  

Louise Erdrich, The Round House  

Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk  

Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds  


Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956  

Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity 

Robert A. Caro, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4  

Domingo Martinez, The Boy Kings of Texas  

Anthony Shadid, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East


David Ferry, Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations

Cynthia Huntington, Heavenly Bodies 

Tim Seibles, Fast Animal  

Alan Shapiro, Night of the Republic  

Susan Wheeler, Meme  


William Alexander, Goblin Secrets  

Carrie Arcos, Out of Reach  

Patricia McCormick, Never Fall Down  

Eliot Schrefer, Endangered  

Steve Sheinkin, Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon 


Mo Yan

Mo Yan is the first Chinese writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. We will add several of his books (in translation) to our collection. Several titles by Mo Yan are available now for interlibrary loan.



Award-Winning Cookbooks

2012 James Beard Foundation Book Awards

Book Talk tends to feature reviews and booklists of fiction and narrative non-fiction books, so I thought it was time to highlight another big part of our library’s collection: cookbooks. Here is a list of some of the best cookbooks published in 2011:

Cookbook of the Year:

Modernist Cuisine

by Nathan Myhrvold with Chris Young and Maxime Bilet

[We do not own this 6 volume, $625 set, but have ordered the 2 volume Modernist Cuisine at Home, to be published in October, 2012.]

Cookbook Hall of Fame:

Home Cooking and More Home Cooking

by Laurie Colwin

[We don’t own these classic cookbooks from 1988 and 1993, but they are available for interlibrary loan from libraries in our area.]

American Cooking:

A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen

by Hugh Acheson

Baking and Dessert:

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

by Jeni Britton Bauer


Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, & Formulas

by Brad Thomas Parsons

[Available for interlibrary loan]

Cooking from a Professional Point of View:

Modernist Cuisine

by Nathan Myhrvold with Chris Young and Maxime Bilet

General Cooking:

Ruhlman’s Twenty

by Michael Ruhlman

Focus on Health:

Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen

by Heidi Swanson


The Food of Morocco

by Paula Wolfert

Reference and Scholarship:

Turning the Tables: Restaurants and the Rise of the American Middle Class, 1880-1920

by Andrew P. Haley

[Available for interlibrary loan from several college libraries in Illinois]

Single Subject:

All About Roasting

by Molly Stevens

Writing and Literature:

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef

by Gabrielle Hamilton

Book Awards and Controversy

Pulitzer Prizes were awarded this week, but no award was given for fiction, for the first time since 1977. No explanation was offered beyond the statement, “The three books were fully considered, but in the end, none mustered the mandatory majority for granting a prize, so no prize was awarded.”

 The lack of award has generated a lot of controversy, especially as many people will assume the Pulitzer board decided that none of the books deserved the prize, rather than that they were deadlocked. A three member jury, headed this year by Susan Larson, read 300 novels and presented the board with three finalists. On National Public Radio, Susan said “We were all shocked. We were angry, and we were very disappointed. This is a lot of work.” She also stated that “I think we all would have been happy if any one of these books had been selected.”

Read one or more of the finalists, and decide for yourself if the judges were stumped or disappointed. The three finalists are:

Pale King, by David Foster Wallace

Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell

Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson

The 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was awarded to: A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan.

Other 2012 Pulitzer Awards:

History Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, by Manning Marable

Biography George F. Kennan: An American Life, by John Lewis Gaddis

Poetry Life on Mars, by Tracy K. Smith

General Nonfiction The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt

In other award news, finalists for two other prizes have been announced. The Orange Prize, which started in 1996, is dedicated to excellence in fiction  written in English by women. The 2011 Orange prize was awarded to

The Tiger’s Wife, by Tea Obrecht.

The 2012 Orange Prize short list is:

Half Blood Blues, by Esi Edugyan.

The Forgotten Waltz, by Anne Enright.

Painter of Silence, by Georgina Harding. This book will be published in the United States in September, 2012.

The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller.

Foreign Bodies, by Cynthia Ozick.

State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett.

Nominees for the Hugo awards for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy are:

Best Novel

Among Others by Jo Walton
A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin
Deadline by Mira Grant
Embassytown by China Miéville
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

Best Novella

“Countdown” by Mira Grant (Orbit)
“The Ice Owl” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction November/December 2011)
“Kiss Me Twice” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s June 2011)
“The Man Who Bridged the Mist” by Kij Johnson (Asimov’s September/October 2011)
“The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” by Ken Liu (Panverse 3)
“Silently and Very Fast” by Catherynne M. Valente (WSFA)

Best Novelette

“The Copenhagen Interpretation” by Paul Cornell (Asimov’s July 2011)
“Fields of Gold” by Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
“Ray of Light” by Brad R. Torgersen (Analog December 2011)
“Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders (
“What We Found” by Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2011)

Best Short Story

“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld April 2011)
“The Homecoming” by Mike Resnick (Asimov’s April/May 2011)
“Movement” by Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s March 2011)
“The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2011)
“Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” by John Scalzi (