One-Minute Book Reviews

February 25, 2010

Complete List of 2010 Delete Key Awards Finalists

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 5:59 pm
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The finalists for the 2010 Delete Key Awards for bad writing in books are:

THE ACCIDENTAL BILLIONAIRES (Doubleday) by Ben Mezrich.

BIG MAN (Grand Central) by Clarence Clemons and Don Reo.

FINGER LICKIN’ FIFTEEN (St. Martin’s) by Janet Evanovich.

GOING ROGUE (Harper) by Sarah Palin.

IT SUCKED AND THEN I CRIED (Simon Spotlight) by Heather Armstrong.

THE LOST SYMBOL (Doubleday) by Dan Brown. 

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (Quirk) by Seth Grahame-Smith.

PYGMY (Doubleday) by Chuck Palahniuk.

STORIES FROM CANDYLAND (St. Martin’s) by Candy Spelling, and MOMMYWOOD (Simon Spotlight) by Tori Spelling (tie).

THE WHOLE TRUTH (Vision/Hachette) by David Baldacci.

Honorable Mention: MENNONITE IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS (Holt) by Rhoda Janzen.

You can read the shortlisted passage from  a book by clicking on the title on the list above. The Delete Key Awards winner and runners-up will be announced on March 15. If you would like to try to lobby for or against a title, please leave a comment on this post or any of the posts linked to on the shortlist.

October 5, 2009

2009 Man Booker Prize Winner To Announced Tuesday, Oct. 6 — Late Night With Jan Harayda

Filed under: Late Night With Jan Harayda — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 10:32 pm
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Update: Tuesday, 5:15 p.m.: Hilary Mantel has won the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for Wolf Hall.

Update: Tuesday, 12:45 p.m.: Waterstone’s says the ceremony will be televised live on the BBC’s Ten O’Clock News, which means we should know the results around 5 p.m. Eastern Time in America.

I haven’t read this year’s finalists for the Man Booker Prize for fiction, Britain’s most influential literary award, the next winner of which will be named tomorrow. But I’ve had a lot to say in the past about the dumbing-down of this award, particularly about the shortlisting in 2007 of Mister Pip, written at a third-grade reading level. If you’d like a bit of background on tomorrow night’s ceremony, you may want to look at the disheartening reading levels of a roundup of some of the best-known winners and finalists.

“Late Night With Jan Harayda” is an occasional series of posts that appears after 10 p.m. Eastern Time and does not include reviews.

February 27, 2009

10 Books Named Finalists for 2009 Delete Key Awards for Bad Writing

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:07 am
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Here’s a complete list of the finalists for the 2009 Delete Key Awards, which recognize authors who don’t use their delete keys enough. Click on this link to read passages that earned these books a place on shortlist, posted on Feb. 26 in ten separate posts. More comments on these awards appear at www.twitter.com/janiceharayda.

1. Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid (Viking), by Denis Leary.

2. Death Benefits: How Losing a Parent Can Change an Adult’s Life — For the Better (Basic Books), by Jeanne Safer.

3. The Underneath (Atheneum, ages 8 and up), by Kathi Appelt with drawings by David Small

4. Wolf Totem (Penguin), by Jiang Rong, translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt:

5. Change of Heart (Simon & Schuster/Atria), by Jodi Picoult.

6. Leisureville: Adventures in America’s Retirement Utopias (Atlantic Monthly Press), by Andrew Blechman.

7. Read All About It! (HarperCollins, ages 4–6), a picture book by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush, illustrated by Denise Brunkus.

8. The Host (Little, Brown) by Stephenie Meyer.

9. Bright Shiny Morning (Harper), by James Frey.
10. Audition: A Memoir (Knopf), by Barbara Walters.

Randy Pausch has posthumously received the first Delete Key Awards Lifetime Achievement Award for The Last Lecture (Hyperion), in part for his unabashed acknowledgment of his love of football cliches. As long as there was still time left on the clock, he kept the drive alive.

The winners of the 2009 Delete Key Awards will be announced March 16 on the One-Minute Book Reviews blog.

Thanks for visiting One-Minute Book Reviews, a site for people who like to read but dislike hype and review inflation.

(c) 2009 Janice Harayda.

www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

January 30, 2009

National Book Critics Circle Judges Snub Toni Morrison and Joseph O’Neill in Announcing Finalists for Awards

Filed under: Book Awards,News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:11 pm
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Just before the American Library Association named the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott medals that have preoccupied me for much of this week, the National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for its annual awards in six categories: fiction, poetry, criticism, biography, general nonfiction and autobiography or memoir. The big news this year is the books that aren’t on the list: Toni Morrison’s A Mercy and Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland. Both novels have won stellar reviews, and I predicted that O’Neill would win this one. (Neither book made the shortlist for the 2008 National Book Awards, either, but A Mercy came out after the deadline for entries.) Read the list of NBCC finalists and tell me what you think.

November 20, 2008

Why Were So Many More Nonfiction Books Than Novels Nominated for the 2008 National Book Awards? (Late Night With Jan Harayda)

It costs $125 to nominate a book for a National Book Award. Why were so many more publishers willing to pay it for nonfiction than for fiction or poetry?

Do recent nonfiction books outshine novels? Many critics think so. And publishers seem to agree, based on their willingness to pay the $125-per-book entry fee for the National Book Awards.

The prize sponsor reports that in 2008 publishers nominated the following numbers of books by category: 540, nonfiction; 274, young people’s literature; 271, fiction; and 175, poetry. Publishers may have submitted nearly twice as much nonfiction as fiction because more of it gets published. Yet that explanation begs the question, because publishers presumably buy books for the same reason they nominate them for awards: They think they’re good.

More evidence of the superiority of nonfiction might seem to come from Wednesday night’s fiction winner: Peter Matthiessen’s Shadow Country, a reworking of an earlier trilogy. If this year’s novels had been stronger, would the judges have considered a book that includes previously published material? Was Matthiessen’s shortlisting a sign of desperation in judges who wanted a strong book on the final list even if it meant exhuming some work published as long ago as 1990?

Probably not. It’s more likely the judges wanted to reward a distinguished author in his 80s for his fiction and didn’t know if they’d have another chance. (Matthiessen won the 1980 National Book Award for nonfiction for The Snow Leopard.) It’s also possible that the judges just didn’t like some of the novels that many critics ranked among the best of the year, such as Netherland.

Then why did publishers nominate so much more nonfiction? Two possible explanations. One is that nonfiction books have more opportunity to catch fire in the media or elsewhere: They don’t depend on reviews as much as novels do. And publishers know that momentum can affect judges. In paying those $125 entry fees, some may have invested in what they considered the safest bets.

A related explanation for all the nonfiction nominees is that fiction has two main genres: novels and short stories. Nonfiction has many — including history, memoirs, biography, essays and journalism — and more ways to make an impact. This year’s nonfiction shortlist reflected some of them: The Dark Side (exposé), Final Salute (feature writing), This Republic of Suffering (social history), The Suicide Index (memoir), and the winner, The Hemingses of Monticello (family history).

Yet nonfiction dates faster than nonfiction. This is why novels tend to define their eras better than works of nonfiction do. So the answer to “Were this year’s novels better than the nonfiction books?” rests with history. Decades from now, this year’s best nonfiction books may have yielded to others that have more recent reporting or more up-to-date research, while some of the novels may seem as fresh as ever, just as Jane Austen’s do nearly two hundred years after they appeared.

For a list of the National Book Awards entry fees and eligibility requirements, click here www.nationalbook.org/nbaentry.html.

Janice Harayda is a former judge of the National Book Critics Circle Awards for fiction, nonfiction, biograhy, poetry and criticism.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

November 19, 2008

Matthiessen, Gordon-Reed, Doty and Blundell Win 2008 National Book Awards — Gordon-Reed Is First African-American Woman to Win the Nonfiction Prize

The winners of the 2008 National Book Awards are Peter Matthiessen’s Shadow Country (fiction), Annette Gordon-Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello (nonfiction), Mark Doty’s Fire to Fire (poetry) and Judy Blundell’s What I Saw and How I Lied. Each winner receives $10,000 and was selected by a different panel of five judges. The nonprofit National Book Foundation sponsors the prizes and has posted more information about them at www.nationalbook.org. The site includes interviews with all the winners and finalists and excerpts from their books.

The publishing news site GalleyCat www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/ will have pictures and more on the ceremony tomorrow. Ron Hogan, senior editor of GalleyCat, attended and posted the names of the winners on his Twitter feed with heroic speed. If you can’t wait for tomorrow’s news stories, you can read more about the event on his Twitter feed www.twitter.com/ronhogan, which includes snippets from the acceptance speeches.

(c) 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

June 19, 2008

Overrated Book-Award Winners – Now Being Debated on the Ruthless Book Club

Filed under: Book Awards — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:41 am
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Is The Inheritance of Loss overrated? Is The Worst Hard Time underrated?

We’ve been talking about overrated and underrated book-award winners over on the Ruthless Book Club, a new online reading group with no required reading. Among the books that may qualify, based on vistiors’ comments: Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss, winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction (overrated) www.themanbookerprize.com/prize/archive and Timothy Egan’s The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction (underrated) www.nationalbook.org/nba2006_nf_egan.html.

What award-winners do you think are overrated and underrated? You can let others know by leaving comment during the month of June at www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/06/01/. A new conversation will begin on July 1.

© 2008 All rights reserved. Janice Harayda.

April 8, 2008

Why Do Unworthy Books Win Awards like Pulitzer Prizes? Quote of the Day (Neville Braybrooke)

In last night’s post, I listed some classic American novels that didn’t win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, given yesterday to The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. A related question is: Why do unworthy book win awards? One obvious answer is that most prizes are given out annually, and every year may not bring a great book in a category.

But more subtle factors may come into play. A truism of literary prize-giving is that awards often go to everybody’s second choice. Judges may split into two camps with each side fiercely opposing the other’s first choice. To reach a decision, they may choose a second-rate book they can all support.

Judges tell many stories in among themselves about such compromises but rarely discuss them publicly. Who wants to admit to having honored a clinker? But Neville Braybooke suggests how the practice can work in his preface to the Every Eye, the elegant second novel by his late wife, Isobel English. Braybooke writes that English refused to add the happy ending that an American publisher wanted to her to give her first novel, The Key That Rusts:

“More significantly, during these early days of her career, came the news that The Key That Rusts had been shortlisted for the Somerset Maugham Award, tying for first place with Iris Murdoch’s first novel, Under the Net. In the event, the judges were unable to decide who should be the winner, so they gave the prize to the runner-up, Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim.”

Neville Braybrooke in Every Eye (David R. Godine/Black Sparrow, $23.95) www.blacksparrowbooks.com.

Comment by Jan:

Braybrooke may have been willing to tell this anecdote partly because there would have been no shame in losing either to Lucky Jim or Under the Net, both modern classics. And few critics would argue that Amis’s comic novel was unworthy of an award. The Somerset Maugham Award is given annually by the London-based Society of Authors www.societyofauthors.org to the writer or writers under the age of 35 who wrote the best book of the year.

Do you think any unworthy books have won awards? What are they?

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved. www.janiceharayda.com

“ …

April 7, 2008

Junot Diaz Wins Pulitzer for ‘The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’

Filed under: News — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 3:32 pm
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Junot Diaz has won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscao Wao, a novel that last month won the National Book Critics Circle Prize for fiction. Here’s a link to the AP story that lists all the winners for books and journalism. ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5j7vuQ5ogo7UJ6MEjWWaYBGpyOTCgD8VT75DG0. The National Book Critics Circle site has comments on Diaz and links to major reviews and interviews here: bookcriticscircle.blogspot.com/2008/02/nbcc-award-finalists-in-fiction-junot.html.

This site at Columbia University has a complete list of all the winners (with descriptions of why they won) and finalists, including all the books that were finalists for a 2008 Pulitzer: www.huliq.com/56234/columbia-university-announcees-2008-pulitzer-prize-winners

March 7, 2008

National Book Critics Circle Award Reality Check: ‘Brother, I’m Dying’

Filed under: African American,Book Awards,Memoirs — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 6:53 pm
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Do literary prizes always go to deserving authors? One-Minute Book Reviews considers the question in “Reality Check,” a series of occasional posts on books shortlisted for high-profile awards. A recent installment considered Edwidge Danticat’s memoir of an uncle who died while in custody of U.S. immigration officials, Brother, I’m Dying www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/01/02/. then a finalist for a 2007 National Book Award. The book has since won the National Book Critics Circle award for autobiography www.bookcriticscircle.blogspot.com. A “Reality Check” post on the NBCC poetry winner, Mary Jo Bang’s Elegy, will appear next week.

(c) Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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