The Pulitzer Winners

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping and slightly paralyzing literary experience, such that if you submit to it in the proper spirit your Twitter feed may go unchecked, your Facebook page unrefreshed, for days or perhaps weeks."

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Fiction's Grand Illusionist: An Interview with Christopher Priest

Nicole Hill talks to Christopher Priest about film adaptation, dream states, and putting words into the mouth of H.G. Wells in his new book The Adjacent.

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Shaman

In Kim Stanley Robinson's Shaman, one of the greatest science fiction writers of our time takes his furthest trip yet: back to the dawn of man.

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Darwyn Cooke's "Parker: Slayground"

Slayground is the fourth adaptation by Darwyn Cooke of one of the Parker-themed crime novels of "Richard Stark" (Donald Westlake) to the graphic novel format.

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Eyewitness Reportage, Gripping Stories from Abroad Triumph at NBCC Awards

This year's 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award winners proved far-reaching and international in scope.

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An Addiction and an Award

"Because I am, essentially, a reading addict, my impulse is simply to rip right through a book, fiction or nonfiction, just for the animal pleasure of it. But sad experience has shown that if I abandon myself in this way, I will finish the book without being able to say much except: Boy was that ever good, you should read it." -- BNR columnist Katherine A. Powers, this year's recipient of the National Book Critic's Circle's Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.

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The 2013 Discover Award Winners

Anthony Marra and Justin St. Germain are the winners of the 2013 Discover Great New Writers awards.

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The Future of the Mind

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Michio Kaku's first book, Hyperspace. Since then, the personable (his many media appearances testify to his charm), verbally gifted, enthusiastic, science-proselytizing physicist has shared his own feelings of awe at the universe and the humans who inhabit it. Reading one of his books is like hijacking Kaku's oversized intelligence and enthusiasms to stoke your own sense of wonder. His latest is no exception.

 

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Shovel Ready

Adam Sternbergh's taut, laconic, so-grim-you-have-to-laugh-to-stop-from-crying debut novel recalls two previous outstanding first genre novels which, curiously enough, are almost polar opposites.

 

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And the Finalists Are...

We're very proud to announce the 2013 Discover Award Shortlist.

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What Makes This Book So Great

Alert readers will note something important directly from the cover of Jo Walton's accomplished and deeply enjoyable  collection of essays ruminating on the books she (mostly) loves: there is no question mark in the title. To parse that punctuational distinction plainly: Walton is not asking herself or her readers any questions about her favorite books. She is not uncertain or in doubt over their worth or qualities.

 

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Pete Seeger, 1919-2014

Today the world mourns the passing of musical icon Pete Seeger, the singer, songwriter and activist who spearheaded the revival of American folk music, wrote and performed some of the most resonant anthems of 1950s and 60s, and remained throughout his long and intensely active life a figure of inspiration to millions.

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"We Are All—Every One of Us—Unreliable Narrators"

Mary Miller and Alethea Black cover similar territory in their writing: their characters long for connection, and look to be understood -- and understand their places in the world.  In this far-ranging conversation for the Discover blog, Miller and Black discuss starting their writing careers later in life; the differences between writing long form fiction vs. short stories, and for an adult audience vs. a YA audience; and how shifting a story’s POV can electrify it, among many, many other things.

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Five Books: The Civil Rights Movement

To mark Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a list of essential reading to remember and celebrate the movement he championed.

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Lines to Remember: A Year in Poetry

The critic and author of The Forage House looks back on some of 2013's most memorable verse.

 

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A Dickens of a Christmas

Dickens did not quite "invent" Christmas, as it is sometimes claimed, but, ever since A Christmas Carol was published in 1843, Scrooge's Yuletide nightmares and joyful Christmas morning have become as much a part of the popular idea of the season as Christmas trees and endless, maddening renditions of "Jingle Bells." A little searching yields about 1,700 different editions of A Christmas Carol for sale, and theatrical performances are an annual tradition.

 

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A Peruvian Investor Walks into a Packard Plant: A Guest Post by Mark Binelli

"A Peruvian investor recently purchased the Packard Plant, the iconic Detroit ruin, closed since the nineteen-fifties and sprawling over 40 acres. Fernando Palazuelo, the proud new owner, forked over $400,000 for the factory, which he described to Bloomberg News as 'the best opportunity in the world.' He plans to live on the premises, with the future rehab transforming the mouldering site, in the words of the article, into 'a vibrant hub of automotive suppliers, offices, shops, lofts and maybe even a go-kart track...'"

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Culinary Charmers of 2013

Critic and ardent home cook Heller McAlpin recommends new cookbooks whose winning voices and visual delights are just as beguiling as the dishes they highlight.

 

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Five Overlooked SF/F/H Books of 2013

What are the four novels and one knockout story collection that our speculative fiction expert Paul Di Filippo proclaims 2013's greatest "Overlooked SF, Fantasy, & Horror"?

 

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Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

"It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people, white and black. I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away another man's freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else's freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity." -- Nelson Mandela, who died on December 5th, at the age of 95

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The Kind of Thing You Still Write About: A Guest Post by Wiley Cash

Novelist Wiley Cash uncovers the notebook of his seventh-grade self: "Halloween Hallow,"  Die Hard, and an apprentice writer's first work of suspense.

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Reading Lessing: Writers Reflect

"No one else does this like her; the pulling apart of what is going on within a human mind in the space of a few seconds, the fearless, truthful portrayal of it all."  --- Writers discuss the legacy of Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing's work.

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Discover Authors and the 2013 Whiting Writers Awards

Few things better in the world than watching a writer receive an award, if you ask me.  Last night in New York, the Whiting Writers Awards were presented, and among the 10 recipients were three Discover writers: C.E. Morgan (2009, shortlisted for the Discover Award -fiction), Amanda Coplin (2012, winner of the Discover Award - fiction), and Jennifer Dubois (2013).  Jennifer discusses the inspiration for the new novel; challenging her characters’ -- and readers’ – preconceptions, (mis)interpretations, and snap judgments; and a list of the books she’s been reading lately with Discover Great New Writers.

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Alice Munro, Nobel Laureate

"In my own house, I seemed to be often looking for a place to hide—sometimes from the children but more often from the jobs to be done and the phone ringing and the sociability of the neighborhood. I wanted to hide so that I could get busy at my real work, which was a sort of wooing of distant parts of myself." That’s the unmistakable voice of Alice Munro, who has just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

 

We congratulate the Swedish Academy on its very good taste. If you’ve never read Munro's work, you’ll find the story I’ve quoted ("Miles City, Montana") and other splendid works here.

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Cracking Hard Case Crime

After its brief hiatus some years ago, the Hard Case Crime imprint has bounced back better and bigger than ever.

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A Tribute to Frederik Pohl

The Science Fiction Writers of America bestowed the title of Grandmaster on the late Frederik Pohl.  But his contribution to literature went beyond any genre.

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It Seemed Like a Dark and Tragic Tale: A Conversation with Hannah Kent

"I was living in a small Icelandic town where I felt conspicuous as a foreignor, yet also socially isolated. I didn't speak any Icelandic at that stage, it was winter, and the days were gripped by darkness for up to twenty hours at a time. It was during this early period of loneliness that I happened to drive through a very striking place called Vatnsdalur, a valley covered in hundreds of small hills. When I asked my travelling companions if the area was significant for any reason, they told me that it had been the site of the last executions in Iceland, which had taken place well over 150 years ago. Immediately curious, I asked them what had happened, and was told that a young man and woman had been led out to the hills and beheaded by broad axe for their role in the brutal murder of two sleeping men." -- Hannah Kent on the genesis of Burial Rites.

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BNR Recommends: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2013 (So Far)

Science Fiction, that harbinger of things to come, is a genre alive and well, continuing to serve as an illumination of our greatest hopes and fears for what the future holds.  Similarly, the epic tales of the Fantasy genre cast the human experience as one of dueling triumph and devastating defeat, war and serenity, royalty and paupers.  These fantastic realms have produced some of 2013's finest fiction, corralled and admired here at the Review.  And so we have compiled a collection of forty-two works comprising the best SF and Fantasy of 2013 (Thus Far), which can be found by clicking here

 

What follows is a round-up of four particularly fascinating books from this list, each of which has captured our sense of the surreal, and quenched our thirst for heroes and villains of mythic proportions.  -- The Editors

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Tinker, Taylor, Warlock, Spy

Blending consensus historical events and personages with imaginary occult forces is a strong recipe for counterfactual storytelling goodness that combines the best of two worlds: resonant history with wild-eyed fantasy. The formula has worked for Mike Mignola's Hellboy franchise, as well as Charles Stross's Laundry series. Ian Tregellis's Milkweed Triptych is the latest such hybrid, zestily offering a suspenseful take on history rerouted by the uncanny.

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What's It Like for a Critic to Write a Novel? A Guest Post by Caleb Crain

There’s lots to like in Caleb Crain’s marvelous debut novel, Necessary Errors. This is a coming-of-age story of exiles and expats finding freedom in post-Velvet Revolution Prague.  In elegant prose and with great tenderness, Crain captures all the messiness of twenty-something lives, where exuberance and idealism collide with expectations and indiscretions.

 

But Crain’s talent isn’t limited to writing novels; for years now, his journalism and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The Nation, The New York Times, the London Review of Books, The Paris Review Daily, and n+1.

 

Which is why I had to ask: What’s it like to be a critic-turned-novelist?

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April 17: "In less than three years, both GM and Chrysler would be bankrupt, and a resurgent Ford would wow Wall Street..."

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.