Tag: Awards

Sally Rooney Is the Youngest Author to Win the Costa Novel Award

She beat us to it….

Upon completing a diligent google search of the name, “Sally Rooney,” one thing becomes clear: the internet seems to be unsure of whether this Dublin native is twenty-seven or twenty-eight years of age…but also that this woman has a fire inside of her… The type of fire that propels the rocket of a writer’s heart towards truth. In 2015, Rooney wrote an essay entitled “Even If You Beat Me” which pretty much launched her career. She has described the essay as being a little bit too revealing, but I imagine all writers feel this way when looking back at something written when they were relatively anonymous, before the onslaught of critique and recognition. In her essay, she deconstructs the experience of debating at the university level; she personalizes it in a way that is riveting. The entire essay basically becomes a blunt yet universally resonate metaphor for the pursuit of success.



Image Via Imgur.com

Successful debaters are the most popular, have the most friends, are listened to the most but are ultimately living shallow and lonely lives. Rooney examines the idea of societal disconnect as debaters achieve a phony state of celebrity; sometimes even faking knowledge and experience just to win a game. Her essay emphasizes the importance of understanding the reality of one’s place and living in the real world, being motivated not by greed or comfort but by existential relevance. Be honest and good, help people. At least that’s what I took away from it. I can’t imagine people in the debate community were very happy with her essay but I think it’s awesome. She clearly has a voice that hungers to say something different and real.



Image Via Amazon.com

After people read it, they wanted more of whatever she had, so she utilized the before referenced fire and went to work. This eventually led to her debut novel Conversations with Friends (a doomed romance of sorts) which was apparently subject to a seven-party auction for publishing rights (at least according to Wikipedia. Yeah, I used Wikipedia just now. I apologize to everyone who has ever advised against that). Her newest novel, Normal People just won the Costa Novel Award for best book of 2018. Sally Rooney is the youngest author to ever win this award. Hell yeah. Unfortunately, it takes things like awards for people to notice the work of others (ironically), regardless, Normal People is now flying off the shelves in the UK. The novel takes place five years ago and explores the relationship between two characters, Connell and Marianne, who attend the same school in Ireland. That’s really all that needs to be said, read it.



Image Via Amazon.com

Sally Rooney is consistently receiving rave reviews for work that focuses on relationships and characters more so than plot. For writing coming of age tales that point a finger at adulthood archetypes. Her editor at Faber and Faber has infamously (someday infamously if Rooney keeps this up) described her as a “Salinger for the Snapchat generation.” She is abundantly real, witty, critical of herself and the world around her. In an interview with Irish Independent, she once said“There is a part of me that will never be happy knowing that I am just writing entertainment, making decorative aesthetic objects at a time of historical crisis.”This sort of thinking contributes to prose that is thoughtfully rooted in realism. Normal People was snubbed by the 2018 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, making the longlist but failing to make the short, however, won the Costa Novel Award anyway; the final sentence of her essay feels appropriate here: “Even if you beat [her], [she’s] still the best.”



Image Via Irishtimes.com


Normal People is about to be adapted by BBC Three with the help of Academy Award-nominated director of Room, Lenny Abrahamson.




Dear Sally,

I’m jealous.

You clearly possess an astute understanding of the lost art that is properly sporting a slick leather jacket.





Featured Image Via Independent.ie

Award-Winning Author of ‘The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’ Says Writing It Was ‘Awful’

It was just this week that Stuart Turton was named the winner of the Costa first novel prize and awarded £5,000 for his book. According to The Guardian, Turton’s novel, Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, was described by judges as an “ingenious, intriguing and highly original mindbender of a murder mystery”. However, Turton himself said the process of writing it was “awful”.


Stuart Turton

 Image Via Amazon

The novel follows the beautiful young Evelyn who is murdered at her parents’ party. However, she doesn’t die just once; she is murdered over and over as each day repeats itself with no break in the mystery. That’s when Aiden, a party guest, tries to find the killer. But each repeated moment and day he tries, he returns in the body of another guest. His time is running out as he tries to find the clues when it seems like maybe someone doesn’t want him to.


The book sounds phenomenal and the judges made this choice with 117 additional entries in front of them. “We were all stunned that this exciting and accomplished novel, planned and plotted perfectly, is a debut,” the panel had said. Interestingly enough, the winners in the past have been huge bestsellers from authors like Zadie Smith to Nathan Filer. However, Turton didn’t have the typical author story.


Stuart Turton

Image Via Goodreads

The 38-year-old Cheshire resident never had the desire to be an author, he simply loved Agatha Christie as a child. This pushed him to write his one attempt at a crime novel when he was 21. When he saw it as “phenomenally bad”, he went on to travel all over the world and have all sorts of jobs from working on a goat ranch to cleaning toilets. It was a couple years later while he was working as a travel writer in Dubai that the idea for Evelyn suddenly came to him.


“It was the body-hopping and the Groundhog Day loop. I didn’t have anything else, the characters or murder, I just had that concept. The moment I got it, I thought: ‘Oh crap, now I’ve got to go and do that, and I’ve got to be in England, I need that atmosphere, those stately homes. I need to be lost in drizzly forests, I cannot do that in the desert… I was terrified the entire time, from the moment the idea came and I knew I had to follow through on it.”


It still didn’t come easy from there. He changed his ideas and plans more than he could say, until he finally decided to allow the story to flow where it may. Now, as a winner of this honorable award, Turton and four others will go on to compete for book of the year, a £30,000 prize.


Check out the list of winners below with the youngest winner being only 27! They were chosen from 641 entries altogether, so we know this will be some of their best work yet.


Best novel: Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber)
Best first novel: Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (Raven Books)
Best biography: The Cut Out Girl: A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found by Bart van Es (Penguin)
Best poetry: Assurances by JO Morgan (Jonathan Cape)
Best children’s book: The Skylarks’ War by Hilary McKay (Macmillan)



Featured Image Via The National

pen with roses

Women Poets’ Prize Announces First 3 Winners

This 2018, the Women Poets’ Prize is honoring its first set of victors. The new literary prize commemorates beloved UK editor Rebecca Swift, who prematurely died of cancer in April 2017. A poet herself, Swift was dedicated to helping writers tackle the problem of the dreaded slush pile— the mound of un-agented manuscripts that most publishers don’t have the resources to read through. In 1996, she founded The Literary Consultancy (TLC), a group providing editorial feedback to developing writers. Throughout her life, she also performed charitable work with the goal of providing mental healthcare to underprivileged women. The Women Poets’ Prize celebrates Swift’s life, as well as her undying passion for women and poetry. Here are its first three recipients.


1. Claire Collison


Poet Claire Collison

Image Via barefictionmagazine.co.uk


A breast cancer survivor, Claire Collison writes about the relationship between her mastectomy and her womanhood. For her piece Truth Is Beauty, she often performs with her one remaining breast exposed. Poets themselves, contest judges Moniza Alvi, Fiona Sampson, and Sarah Howe tout Collison’s work as “mesmerising, with unusual and subtle shifts, sharp, grounded and achieved with remarkable naturalness.” In her poem ‘Keeping Borzoi,’ Collison writes:


That was the summer you learned
there was a point to eyelashes,
and that having cancer didn’t
make you nice — wasn’t enough
of a thing in common. 


2. Nina Mingya Powles


Poet Nina Mingya Powles

Image Via gzdd-vip.com


An original voice from both New Zealand and China, Nina Mingya Powles explores her biracial identity and the bias of white, male poetry: “being mixed race and half Chinese Malaysian, it has been a particular focus for me to discover other mixed race poets, writers and artists… I am trying to find a new canon of my own.” Here’s an excerpt from Powles’ ‘Styrofoam Love Poem,’ published 2018:


my skin gets its shine from maggi noodle seasoning packets / golden fairy dust that glows when touching water / fluorescent lines around the edge of / a girlhood seen through sheets of rainbow plastic / chemical green authentic ramen flavour / special purple packaged pho / mama’s instant hokkien mee / dollar fifty flaming hearts / hands in the shape of a bowl to carry this cup / of burning liquid salt and foam / mouthful of a yellow winter morning / you shouldn’t eat this shit it gives you cancer / melts your stomach lining / 99% of all this plastic comes from China / if we consume it all maybe we’ll never die


3. Anita Pati


Poet Anita Pati

Image Via wasafiri.org


Anita Pati is a poet and freelance journalist, whose poetry has great “linguistic and sonic quirk.” Her nonfiction journalism can be found in many household-name publications, including The Guardian and Cosmopolitan. Her linguistic originality is on display in this excerpt from ‘Dodo Provocateur,’ her prizewinning poem:


Europeans hunted you mercilessly,
because you beakies wouldn’t be doves or albatross.
Those whitish irises probably grotted and balled and seized,
black undertail coverts jutting at strumpet-starved sailors,
marooned on Mauritius, exotic, just not Bideford, Perth or Poole.
Why gobble pebbles big as nutmegs to temper your guts,
and prove fresh meat for rusky sailors, declaring you foul?


The Women Poets’ Prize is free to enter, true to Swift’s vision for female writers. In addition to the varied professional development opportunities, winning poets receive £1,000 and the opportunity for exposure. Maybe you’ve found a new poet whose work you can explore— and maybe, you’ve found an opportunity for your own writing.




Featured Image Via The Denver Post

National Book Award statues

National Book Foundation Adds First New Award Category in Twenty-Two Years

The National Book Foundation has just announced a fifth National Book Award category: The National Book Award for Translated Literature. A new category hasn’t been added since 1996 when the foundation awarded the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature to Victor Martinez for Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida.


Because this marks a pretty major step for the National Book Foundation, a unanimous vote was needed from the Board of Directors. They got all the votes, and Chairman of the Board of Directors, David Steinberger, said in a statement “We could not be more pleased to take this step. We now have the opportunity to recognize exceptional books that are written anywhere in the world, and to encourage new voices and perspectives to become part of our national discourse.”


National Book Award gold stamp first place

Image Via the National Book Foundation


After twenty-two years, the question of “Why now?” arises. The political atmosphere is obviously very tense when it comes to immigration and xenophobia runs rampant in some parts of the country, so that seems to be part of the foundation’s mission. After all, they are an organization dedicated to enriching the country’s literature.


Some insight can be gleaned from the Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, Lisa Lucas. In a statement, Lucas said:


As the Foundation further expands its purview and work, it’s important that we continue to promote reading habits that reach widely across genre, subject, and geography. We are a nation of immigrants, and we should never stop seeking connection and insight from the myriad cultures that consistently influence and inspire us. We want American readers to deeply value an inclusive, big-picture point of view, and the National Book Award for Translated Literature is part of a commitment to that principle. The addition of this award lends crucial visibility to works that have the power to touch us as American readers in search of broadened perspective.


That sums everything up pretty nicely. Though it is a national organization, the literary world is, obviously, international. Personally, of my top favorite authors, I might include one American writer. However, if it weren’t for American translator Jay Rubin, for example, we wouldn’t be able to read many of Haruki Murakami’s works.


The work of translators is indispensable to a reader’s life. If you are reading a work in translation, then, though it may not seem it, about half the work is being done by the translator. Capturing an author’s voice and aesthetic in a new language is immensely challenging and is an artistic medium independent of writing. It’s extremely exciting that one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world is now awarding translators for their contributions to book life.


Submissions for the National Book Award for Translated Literature will be open on March 7th, the same time as the other categories (Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature). The longlist will be announced on September 10th, and the finalists will be announced on October 10th. The inaugural winners (both writer and translator) of the National Book Award for Translated Literature will be announced at the National Book Awards Ceremony and Dinner on November 14th. Winners in each category receive a bronze sculpture and $10,000. Winners of the Translated Literature award will split the money evenly between them.


Who would you like to see win the National Book Award for Translated Literature? Think globally!


Feature Image Via the National Book Foundation


The 2018 Oscar Nominations for People Who’d Rather Read Books

Okay, so I know the National Book Awards are basically the Oscars of book world (at least in the USA), but I decided to do my own Book-Oscar nominations to coincide with the real Oscar nominations because I like my own opinions better than other people’s and I have definitely read every single book on this list, yes siree, you betcha. Enjoy these opinions that are mine. 


Best Book


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Moonglow by Michael Chabon

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado 

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders 


Best Lead Character (Male)


Lincoln, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Jojo, Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Jazz Bashara, Artemis by Andy Weir

Allan Eastman, Eastman Was Here by Alex Gilvarry

Ryan, The Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerney


Best Lead Character (Female)


Mia Warren, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Aza Holmes, Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Julia, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez

Fabiola Toussaint, American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Eleanor Oliphant, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman


Best Supporting Character (Male)


Musa, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

Simon, One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Nick, Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

Raymond, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

My Grandfather, Moonglow by Michael Chabon


Best Supporting Character (Female)


Daphne, Dark at the Crossing by Elliott Ackerman

Daisy Ramirez, Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Anna O’Donnell, The Wonder by Emma O’Donoghue

Klara, The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Karine, The Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerney


Best Author


Paul Auster for 4 3 2 1

Stephen King and Owen King for Sleeping Beauties 

Celeste Ng for Little Fires Everywhere

Angie Thomas for The Hate U Give

Viet Thanh Nguyen for The Refugees


Best Adapted Screenplay (Okay these are the actual Oscar nominations but I can’t argue…) 


James Ivory for Call Me by Your Name 

Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber for The Disaster Artist

Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green for Logan

Aaron Sorkin for Molly’s Game

Virgil Williams and Dee Rees for Mudbound


Featured Image Via Goodreads, Tumblr and Audiobbooks