Monthly Archives: March 2011

The 2011 Man Booker International Prize Finalists Announced – Le Carre Bows Out

Thirteen selected finalists have been announced for the fourth Man Booker International Prize. The monetary award recognizes one writer for his or her accomplishments in fiction.

Of the 2011 finalists, The Man Booker site states, “The authors come from eight countries, five are published in translation and there are four women on the list. One writer has previously won the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction and two have been shortlisted.”

How does The Man Booker International Prize differ from the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction? The Man Booker Prize for Fiction has been around for over 40 years and aims to reward “the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.” The Man Booker International Prize, however, was just launched in 2005, has a higher monetary reward, and recognizes one writer for his or her overall achievement in fiction.

“The Man Booker International Prize is significantly different from the annual Man Booker Prize for Fiction in that it highlights one writer’s overall contribution to fiction on the world stage,” the official site states. “In seeking out literary excellence, the judges consider a writer’s body of work rather than a single novel.”

The 2011 finalists from the USA this year include Marilynne Robinson, Philip Roth, and Anne Tyler. Interestingly, John le Carre withdrew his name from the list. Le Carre’s literary agents, Curtis Brown, released this statement to the Booker site:

“I am enormously flattered to be named as a finalist of (the) 2011 Man Booker International Prize. However I do not compete for literary prizes and have therefore asked for my name to be withdrawn.”

The winner will be announced on May 18, 2011 at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Click over to The Man Booker International Prize FAQ’s for more information on the Prize and its sponsors.

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-Post by Megan Shaffer

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Author Allison Leotta Brings it all Back to Birmingham

Author Allison Leotta returned to her old stomping grounds earlier this week to collect an Honor Alum Award, talk about her new book, and shed some professional light on the topic of sex crimes and domestic violence to high school seniors.

Leotta was presented with the Honor Alum Award last week, which is given to a Groves High School graduate who has made significant contributions to society or their career areas.

Why Leotta? Well, Leotta is a federal sex crimes prosecutor in Washington, D.C. and the author of the debut legal thriller Law of Attraction. Leotta graduated from Groves High School in 1991 and went on to receive her bachelor’s degree at MSU’s James Madison College, and her law degree from Harvard University. Certainly qualified.

Leotta’s experience and expertise in areas of domestic violence and sex crimes allowed her to seriously contribute to the college-bound conversation. Addressing the senior class Leotta jokingly said, “This is your chance to talk to a prosecutor before you’ve been accused of a crime.”

Though laughter ensued, the subject of sex crimes on campus is no laughing matter to Leotta. She gave caution as she easily called up several cases with the same scenario: girl meets boy(s), all get drunk, girl has sex with boy(s), girl sobers-up, girl presses charges. All lives ruined.

Silence. Direct hit.Cover Image

Sober moment and important public service message aside, Leotta kept her young audience up to speed on her fast-paced legal thriller, Law of Attraction, and her current projects including her surprisingly successful blog and her deal with Simon & Schuster. Leotta is queued up to write two sequels to Law of Attraction. The next installment is titled Discretion and will be released sometime next year.

As for her blog? Leotta said she is getting over 20,000 hits a month, and I must admit the concept is very cool. Leotta is a crime show watcher, and her blog dissects episodes and cross-checks them for believability. Would this really happen? Is this how things would move forward in a court of law? Are these the charges that would actually be brought up? According to Leotta, The Good Wife (CBS) leads the pack in accuracy.

Leotta now lives in the D.C. area but just can’t shake the midwest. Michigan has a cameo in Law of Attraction and the novel’s heroine holds serious midwestern influences. “Although her family is very different than my own, I wanted her to have the spirit that so many Michiganders have,” said Leotta. “She is warm, friendly, hard-working, and generous.”

So, what now? Leotta is currently promoting her book and actively working on her sequels. When I asked her if she would consider writing over prosecuting in the future, she really couldn’t say. “I love being a prosecutor. So I’ll try to keep doing both. I’m in the process of dreaming up my heroine’s next few adventures. It has been a crazy, fun, busy, wonderful time!”

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-Post by Night Light Revue

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Author Rebecca Skloot Brings ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ to DPL

Cover ImageThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was named one of the best books of 2010 by many critics including NLR, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, and The New York Times. With the release of her book last year, author Rebecca Skloot stunned readers with her non-fiction work, and for many, introduced Henrietta Lacks and her miraculous contribution to science for the very first time.

Science writer Rebecca Skloot found herself navigating foreign fields when she decided to seek out the story behind the cells that revolutionized modern medicine. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is the result of Skloot’s unending patience in her search for scientific truth, and the hard-won affection of the family behind the legendary HeLa cells (link here to NLR’s full review).

On Saturday, March 26th at 2:00 p.m., author Rebecca Skloot will be appearing at the Detroit Public Library as part of the DPL’s 2011 One Book, One Community program. “The book is guaranteed to spark lively conversation about medical ethics, informed consent, poverty, illiteracy, family relationships and health care in America,” states the DPL site.

The DPL event will take place at the library’s Main Branch location where both a reading and discussion will be held. Copies of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks are available at any DPL location and the event is free and open to the public. As always, call first to confirm the date and time. Additional information is available at 313-481-1400.

-Link here to video and special features on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

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American Authors Represent on this Year’s Orange Prize Longlist

The longlist for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction was released last Wednesday. For those of you who haven’t heard of the Orange Prize, it’s the UK’s prestigious annual book award for fiction written by a woman. The award can be presented to a female author of any nationality for the best eligible full-length novel written in the English language. The novel entries must be published for the first time in the United Kingdom the year prior to the awarded Prize (rules for entry).

This year’s longlist nominees include American contenders Jennifer Egan, Samantha Hunt, Nicole Krauss, Wendy Law-Yone, Tea Obreht (Serbian/American), Karen Russell, and Julie Orringer (a former creative writing teacher at the University of Michigan).

Where does NLR sit with this year’s nominees? Well, the Revue has a lot of reading left to do. While I enjoyed Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge, I found it difficult to push as a solid cover-to-cover recommendation. But before the ax falls, I intend to read Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife (which is generating big nods), Egan’s NBCC award winner A Visit From the Goon Squad, and jumping the Canadian border to read author Kathleen Winter’s literary gender-bender Annabel.

This year’s Orange Prize seems to be more significant than ever in light of the VIDA Count of 2010. With the noted discrepancies between male and female writers, many have opined on the merits of women in literature, the purported Literary Glass Ceiling, and the very Orange Prize itself.

Now in its sixteenth year, the Orange Prize celebrates “excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing throughout the world.”* Outside of increased book sales and prestige, the winner of the award receives thirty-thousand-pounds (nearly forty-four thousand dollars) and a limited edition bronze sculpture known as a ‘Bessie’ created and donated by artist Grizel Niven. The prize is sponsored by Orange which is a UK mobile network operator and Internet provider.

The Orange Prize for Fiction shortlist will be announced on April 12, 2011 and the actual winner will be announced sometime in June. In past years American authors such as Zadie Smith, Marilynne Robinson, and Ann Patchett have taken home the Orange Prize. Author Barbara Kingsolver won the Prize last year for her novel, The Lacuna.

-Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

*Information taken from the official Orang Prize for Fiction site

Related Information

-You can link here for more information on the history, rules, guidelines, and judges of the Orange Prize for Fiction.

-Try this full list of winners and nominees at Goodreads

-Try The National’s article, Books Firing on All Cylinders: Orange Longlist Shows Power of Women Writers

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Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, Julie Orringer, The Invisible Bridge

Everyone’s Reading Selection ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ Hits the Big Screen

The Everyone’s Reading program is well under way for Metro Detroit public libraries. In case you missed NLR’s post the first time around, The Lincoln Lawyer by best-selling author Michael Connelly is the title for this year’s selection. Whether you’ve already burned through the book or not, grab a big bucket of popcorn because The Lincoln Lawyer is about to hit the big screen.

The Everyone’s Reading Reader’s Guide states that best-selling author Michael Connelly “has set the standard for writing well-paced, well plotted, and well-crafted crime fiction” and has published “an impressive 22 novels, multiple short stories, and one non-fiction collection of crime stories.” Adding to the excitement surrounding this year’s author is the fact that The Lincoln Lawyer will come to life in theaters this weekend.

Image of "Michael Connelly"In this live interview*, former journalist Michael Connelly says of his transition from covering crime to writing about it, “I had the opposite track. I wanted to write the novels first and then I thought, well, how do I get to the position where I know anything about this world?” After 15 years of covering the crime beat for both the Los Angeles Times and the Sun-Sentinel, Connelly was ready to write.

“I was always looking for things no one knew about,” says Connelly of his days covering  the crime beat. One such unknown has become the premise for Connelly’s character Mickey Haller. Haller appears in Connelly’s 16th novel, The Lincoln Lawyer, and is loosely based on a true to life Los Angeles defense attorney who works out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car. The Lincoln Lawyer was released in 2005 and is Connelly’s first-ever legal thriller.

In the film adaption of The Lincoln Lawyer,  Mickey Haller will be played by none other than Matthew McConaughey. The fast-paced thriller will also include other well-known stars such as Ryan Phillippe and Marisa Tomei. Michael Connelly says that he is “comfortable with the changes” to his work in the film’s version, and that “they were able to capture the spirit of the book.”

The movie version of The Lincoln Lawyer is scheduled to open in theaters this Friday,  March 18, 2011. For more, link to The Lincoln Lawyer trailer or the official movie page at Lionsgate.

-Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

*all quotes in post taken from live interview with New Day

-Post by Megan Shaffer

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Author Taylor Stevens Aims to Thrill with “The Informationist”

Cover Image“I have no desire to make a political statement or to educate. It’s like, if you enjoy it, that’s awesome. That’s enough for me.”

So states debut author Taylor Stevens in an interview piece in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram* earlier this week. Stevens recently released her first thriller “The Informationist” to high praise, and seems to have no agenda other than aiming to please.

The Informationist is a fast-paced thriller fueled by the high-octane character of information specialist Vanessa “Michael” Munroe. Munroe is inevitably being compared to Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander, but Stevens’s heroine Munroe seems to be holding her own. The New York Times calls The Informationist an “accessible, crisply told tale” and notes that Ms. Stevens “has a knack for both evocative details” and “strangely compelling character traits.”

The past life of Stevens is evocative in its own right, and those interested in the book will easily get snagged by her incredible bio. Admittedly, I knew nothing of the author’s past until I caught the blurb under Stevens’s picture on the jacket. “Born into the Children of God, raised in communes across the globe, and denied an education beyond the sixth grade, Taylor Stevens broke free of the cult in order to follow hope and a vague idea of what possibilities lay beyond.”

If sensation sells then Stevens should be in great shape. Not only is her book supposedly full of intrigue, but her life story is as well. Stevens was born into a cult known as the Children of God, which is now called The Family International. Stevens hopes, however, to downplay that side of her life which left her deprived of an education and locked away with no food for her attempts at writing at just fifteen years of age.

Fiction is tough to push and much is being made of Stevens’s past, which is no doubt generating added interest in The Informationist. However, Stevens seems to be straightforward in her interviews and pragmatic in her approach. “I hope that people feel it is worth their money and their time, which is even more valuable than money,” the author says in the Star piece, “But what I hope ultimately matters most to people is the fact that I can tell a good story.”

News sources indicate that Taylor Stevens will release her second Vanessa Munroe installment, The Innocent, sometime next year and has been contracted for a third book as well.

-Support your local bookstores, universities, and libraries. It matters.

– Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Information/Links

The Informationist Trailer – Part 1

The Informationist Trailer – Part 2

The Informationist Trailer – Part 3

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“The Paris Wife” Renews Interest in Literary Heavy Hitters

DetailsIf you haven’t yet heard of Paula McLain’s new novel The Paris Wife then it’s time to tune in. The Paris Wife “brilliantly captures the voice and heart of Hadley Hemingway as she struggles with her roles as a woman – wife, lover, muse, friend, and mother – and tries to find her place in the intoxicating and tumultuous world of Paris in the twenties.”*

And I can vouch. McLain does indeed capture the voice of Ernest Hemingway’s wife, or most certainly a voice of the times. McLain’s language and tone easily transport to a bohemian Paris swirling with artists and poets both over and on the cusp of discovery.

Cover ImageReading one good thing often leads to another, and the joys of connecting the never-ending literary dots is a pursuit of pleasure for the avid reader. The Paris Wife is a testament to this fact and is certain to spark interest in the diverse works that germinated in 1920’s Paris and continue to flourish today.

McLain’s book reintroduces some big-time literary players. Having only recently finished The Paris Wife,  I’ve already sought out Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast as well as the works of Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound among others. Also, if you are looking for an historical follow-up piece for McLain’s work you might try Americans in Paris by Charles Glass, a deeply researched and highly detailed non-fiction work focusing on American expats living in Paris.

The Paris Wife site is a beauty, so even if you don’t care to read the book you should at least check out the photos of both the Hemingways and the landmarks of their life together. Also, I hate to veer away from solid sources, however, I did get snagged by Paula McLain’s bio spot on amazon, and her personal history is worth the link over. Very intriguing.

Paula McLain received her MFA in poetry from University of Michigan and has published two collections of poetry, a memoir and an earlier novel titled  A Ticket to Ride. The Paris Wife was released just a few weeks ago.

McLain will add her name to an impressive list of authors who have appeared as part of the National Writers Series of Traverse City and will offer a talk and signing at the City Opera House on Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 7:00 pm. More from NLR on this later…

-Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

*Information taken from the official site of “The Paris Wife”

-Post by Megan Shaffer

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Filed under Authors, Book Reviews, Paula McLain, The Paris Wife