Reluctant Habits

The 2013 National Book Awards: Needs More Wit and Suspense, Enough with the Old Coots

Posted by in angelou-maya, E.L. Doctorow, mcbride-james, Morrison, Toni, National Book Awards

This year’s National Book Awards has added suspense and has shown the way ahead with its winners, but it needs more wit. And it needs to hand out lifetime achievement awards to legends who sing on stage rather than old coots railing against the Internet.

George Saunders (2013 National Book Awards Audio Interview)

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Gene Luen Yang (2013 National Book Awards Audio Interview)

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2012 National Book Awards: An Evening for Readers

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In this vital dispatch from the National Book Awards, we report on the winners, the dancers, and the food.

Dave Eggers, National Book Award Finalist, Refuses to Answer About Abdulrahman Zeitoun’s Violent Assaults

Posted by in Eggers, Dave, National Book Awards, Zeitoun Foundation

In this report, we confront Dave Eggers about his silence concerning Abdulrahman Zeitoun’s attempted murder charges and he stays silent.

National Book Awards — Live Coverage

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Our coverage of the 2011 National Book Awards, which will include photos, silly paragraphs, and half-baked interviews, will continue throughout the evening. Keep checking!

The Bat Segundo Show: Téa Obreht

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In this goofy and engaging one hour radio interview, Téa Obreht discusses The Tiger’s Wife, mythological animals, the relationship between comedy and tragedy, and the possibility of turning into Smeagol if she wins the National Book Award.

Laura Miller’s Black Helicopters

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A response to Laura Miller’s black helicopter theory concerning the National Book Awards.

The 2010 National Book Awards

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Liveblogging the 2010 National Book Awards. (This page will be updated throughout the evening of November 17, 2010.)

White Men Sweep 2009 National Book Awards

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Tonight, the National Book Awards gave every major award to a white man, demonstrating that snubbing women writers isn’t limited to Publishers Weekly. Even the honorary awards were given to Dave Eggers and Gore Vidal, proving that even in the 21st century, white men are still capable of winning everything. The only woman who won an award was Flannery O’Connor for Best of the National Book Awards Fiction. Alas, she’s been dead for over forty-five years. Here are the winners: FICTION: Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin (Random House)…read more

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The Bat Segundo Show: 2008 National Book Awards

Posted by in Bat Segundo, National Book Awards

Our reports from the National Book Awards previously appeared in piecemeal on these pages, and have also appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #252. So far as we know, the National Book Awards has not authored anything aside from programs and informational pamphlets. The people that Our Young, Roving Correspondent talked with on that fateful night, however, have authored a few books. Or at least, this is what they have told us. Condition of Mr. Segundo: Deeply suspicious of Harold Augenbraum. Authors: Joan Wickersham, Annette Gordon-Reed, Salvatore Scibona, Mark Doty,…read more

Fiction Award

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And the winner is Peter Matthiessen’s Shadow Country. An interminable preliminary speech from Gail Godwin….. And then…. Matthiessen’s speech: He’s smiling as he walks up the stage, holding up his award, looking at Gail, and then addressing the audience. “Well, needless to say, I’m very happy and honored to have this National Book Award.” He did not prepare a speech. Thanks thanks thanks. “I’ve had a hard time over the years persuading people that fiction was my natural thing, not nonfiction.” Bringing up Viking, being sued by the FBI. “I…read more

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Nonfiction Award

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And the winner is Annette Gordon Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello. Reed’s speech: Tonight is actually her birthday. She lived too much in the 18th century. Thanks to Robert Wile (editor at Norton). Couldn’t stop researching and had to write. “I can’t say what a wonderful November this has been.” “We’re on a great journey now and I look forward to the years to come.”

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Poetry Award

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And the winner is Mark Doty’s Fire to Fire. Doty’s speech: “Robert is right. This is really good baloney.” Very nervous. “I am glad to be alive in a time when poems like [my finalists] are written.” Shoutout to Terry, editor at HarperCollins. Shoutout to the late Robert Jones, who brought Doty to Harper. Recently married his partner. “It is very plain that we are on the path to equality for all Americans, and that nothing is going to turn us back.”

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Young People’s Literature Award

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And the winner is Judy Blundell’s What I Saw and How I Lied. Blundell’s speech: Always a bad idea to follow Daniel Handler. “Most of you don’t know me, but I’ve probably worked for many of the houses in this room tonight.” “This is the first book I put my name on. When I started in publishing, I was a hapless and very underconfident person. Not much has changed, but I went in the back door of publishing as a writer for hire.” She worked in genre joyfully, because she…read more

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How Much Was “Housekeeping” Edited?

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While wandering around the ballroom in search of quotes (and observing Leon Neyfakh’s fine method of collecting quotes from people while standing near the restrooms), I ran into Pat Strachan, who had edited Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping. I remain convinced that Robinson can win tonight. But Strachan expressed a few doubts. In fact, a number of people I’ve talked with tonight seem to doubt that Robinson can win. Of course, we’ll know soon enough in the next hour. In any event, being a bit of a Robinson geek, I had to…read more

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2008 National Book Awards Podcast #6: Richard Howard

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(This podcast is part of our 2008 National Book Awards coverage. Keep checking this category for details.) Who is the Correspondent Talking With? Richard Howard What’s Going On? In a noisy tableau, our young, roving correspondent hopes to get some answers about the craft of poetry from Richard Howard. National Book Awards Podcast #6: Richard Howard (Download MP3) This text will be replaced

Spouse of a Nominee

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Outside the ballroom. “Are you nervous?” “Actually, I’m here because of my wife.” “Moral support then?” “You could call it that.” “Was it a big surprise for her to be nominated?” “Well, actually she had the support of many librarians.” “So she expected it.” “It was an honor for her to be nominated.” “And how about you? Are you holding up okay?” “It’s getting cold. I have to go back inside.”

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2008 National Book Awards Podcast #5: Candace Bushnell

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(This podcast is part of our 2008 National Book Awards coverage. Keep checking this category for details.) Who is the Correspondent Talking With? Candace Bushnell What’s Going On? Attempting to ascertain precisely why Ms. Bushnell is here, but she is more fond of thanking your young, roving correspondent, rather than answering his questions. National Book Awards Podcast #5: Candace Bushnell (Download MP3) This text will be replaced

2008 National Book Awards Podcast #4: Mark Doty

Posted by in National Book Awards, Poetry

(This podcast is part of our 2008 National Book Awards coverage. Keep checking this category for details.) Who is the Correspondent Talking With? Mark Doty What’s Going On? So here’s the deal. Mr. Doty here has arranged a considerable amount of poetry together. But have you ever stopped to consider just how it was put together. Furthermore, there is a good deal of talk here about Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, and the degree to which poets should revere Mr. Whitman. Mr. Doty was a good sport during this interview, and…read more

2008 National Book Awards Podcast #3: Salvatore Scibona

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(This podcast is part of our 2008 National Book Awards coverage. Keep checking this category for details.) Who is the Correspondent Talking With? Salvatore Scibona What’s Going On? Talk of writing novels over the course of ten years, the advantages of writing on typewriters, and other tomfoolery. National Book Awards Podcast #3: Salvatore Scibona (Download MP3) This text will be replaced

2008 National Book Awards Podcast #2: Annette Gordon Reed

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(This podcast is part of our 2008 National Book Awards coverage. Keep checking this category for details.) Who is the Correspondent Talking With? Annette Gordon Reed What’s Going On? Talk about the Hemmings. National Book Awards Podcast #2: Annette Gordon Reed (Download MP3) This text will be replaced

2008 National Book Awards Podcast #1: Joan Wickersham

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(This podcast is part of our 2008 National Book Awards coverage. Keep checking this category for details.) Who is the Correspondent Talking With? Joan Wickersham What’s Going On? Talk about Wickersham’s book, The Suicide Index, and how disorderly emotions can’t always be arranged in an orderly manner. National Book Awards Podcast #1: Joan Wickersham (Download MP3) This text will be replaced

National Book Awards Dispatch #1

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I am now situated in the press section of the Cipriani Ballroom. Galleycat’s Jason Boog is here, and we are urging him to get his journalistic party started. There are numerous round tables, which one expects from a ballroom, and plentiful waiters ready to kick some culinary ass. But we have not yet located any authors. It is still early. Harold Augenbraum did not recognize me — presumably because I spent a portion of the afternoon with a pair of clippers. There are two friendly reporters here from Publishers Weekly:…read more

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National Book Awards Podcasts

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Again, the National Book Awards

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During the past two days, there have been sparse entries on these pages. There are reasons for this: a few deadlines met, a few interviews conducted (one very journalistic, the other involving two people with funny brains approaching strange nexuses, or, nexii, as the interviewee playfully insisted on), some quiet stabs at the enormous humanistic thing that I am trying to finish before January 20th, and serious and constructive thinking about this website’s future aligned with the dawning reality that newspapers and magazines are dying, as jobs also fall off…read more

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National Book Award Finalists Announced

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Now this is a very intriguing list. Fiction Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project (Riverhead) Rachel Kushner, Telex from Cuba (Scribner) Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country (Modern Library) Marilynne Robinson, Home (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) Salvatore Scibona, The End (Graywolf Press) Nonfiction Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (Alfred A. Knopf) Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (W.W. Norton & Company) Jane Mayer, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals…read more

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And You Thought Bloggers Were the Unprofessional Ones

Posted by in Hitchens, Christopher, National Book Awards

Leon Neyfakh: “Chuck Shelton, the editor of the publishing trade publication Kirkus, came over to the table to say hello to Mr. Karp. Mr. Shelton greeted Mr. Hitchens, whom he said he knew from cocktail parties. Shortly thereafter, according to Mr. Shelton, he was inexplicably touching Mr. Hitchens’ penis and rubbing his balls.” Whether Mr. Shelton paid for the privilege is unknown. I can only presume that this was merely an unprofessional gesture.

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For What It’s Worth

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Hmmm, I don’t know how “Franzen’s no fun” equates to “Franzen’s a jerk.” I certainly didn’t say the latter to this individual. But unlike this individual, I won’t use modifiers here. I’ll let listeners judge for themselves whether the encounter was a “toxic provocation.”

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Cindy Lee Johnson

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Denis Johnson’s wife is now up. She is assuring us that Johnson “is on assignment. Legitimate.” She is now reading an acceptance speech. “Naturally, I’m very grateful to the National Book Foundation for this award and I’m very sorry to miss this one chance to dress up in a tuxedo.” “And Cindy, who have I forgotten? To all the judges who voted for Tree of Smoke, thank you so much.” “I’d like to thank God.” That’s pretty funny — that last line.

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