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Book News: Pulitzer Fiction-Prize Watchers Can Rest Easy This Year

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • After last year's no-Pulitzer debacle, there was a general sigh of relief when a fiction winner was announced Monday. Adam Johnson's The Orphan Master's Son, a surreal novel of life in North Korea under Kim Jong Il, won the prize. Sharon Olds' Stag's Leap (yes, named after the winery), a collection of poems about a devastating divorce, took top honors in poetry. And Ayad Akhtar's play Disgrace took the drama category. (Read Akhtar's recent essay for NPR, "The American Sublime: 3 Books On Faith In The U.S.")
  • On Monday, Granta magazine released the names of authors featured in its "Best of Young British Novelists" issue, which comes out once a decade and tends to be a predictor for literary success — past honorees include such literary superstars as Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis. Morning Edition's David Greene speaks to Granta editor John Freeman and novelist Sarah Hall.
  • The shortlist for the Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize), was announced Tuesday morning. The finalists are Kate Atkinson, A.M. Homes, Barbara Kingsolver, Hilary Mantel, Maria Semple and Zadie Smith.
  • The New Yorker published a short story from the late Chilean novelist Roberto Bolano, "Mexican Manifesto," translated by Laura Healy: "And then she started smiling again, not a mocking smile, not as if she were enjoying herself, but a terminal smile, a knotted smile somewhere between a sensation of beauty and misery, though not beauty and misery per se, but Little Beauty and Little Misery, paradoxical dwarves, travelling and inapprehensible dwarves."
  • On Monday, the American Library Association released its list of the "most-challenged books," that is, books that have received the highest number of "formal, written complaint[s] filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness." Dav Piley's Captain Underpants tops the list, and is joined by books like Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, Toni Morrison's Beloved and E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey.
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