Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve, a dramatic account of the Renaissance-era rediscovery of the Latin poet Lucretius, won for nonfiction. Salvage the Bones, set in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, by Jesmyn Ward, won for fiction.
Some authors and books initially faced rejection before eventually becoming hugely successful. Authors such as global blockbuster Patricia Cornwell, worked in a morgue before becoming a famous crime novelist.
Author and illustrator Peter Sis is known for his fantastical children's books, but his latest project is meant for more grown-up imaginations. Adapted from a 12th century Persian poem, The Conference of the Birds tells the story of thousands of birds who together fly off in search of their king.
"I think of this as my gift to the city," the best-selling novelist says of her Nashville book shop. "If I want to live in a city with a bookstore, then I'm willing to pay for it." Patchett shares her first-day jitters, and the best advice she got about opening a bookstore: Put the children's section in the back.
The best books don't just get inside a character's psyche, they get in the reader's head, as well. Author Ismet Prcic recommends Irvine Welsh's Marabou Stork Nightmares, a funny, provocative, cerebral novel that explores the meaning of violence.
The year is 1622, and a tormented English Puritan strikes out for the Plymouth Plantation in Hugh Nissenson's moody, intelligent novel. Critic Maureen Corrigan says The Pilgrim is a work of straightforward historical fiction — of the sort that you don't see so much anymore.
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