Awards! Awards! Awards! It sounds a bit like Monday night at the monster truck rally.
Barbara Kingsolver won The Orange Prize for Fiction last week for her novel The Lacuna, an expansive story set primarily in Mexico that entwines the Mexican Revolution, McCarthyism, Freida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The novel took Kingsolver a decade to write and for the honor, Kingsolver beat out perpetual award winner Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and Lorrie Moore’s Gate At the Stairs. According to The Independent, the decision over who should win the award agonized the judges. The Orange Prize is annually awarded to a woman of any nationality for a novel written in English.
The Orange Award for New Writers went to Irene Sabatini, a Zimbabwean writer, for her novel The Boy Next Door, a novel about a relationship between a black woman and the son of her white neighbor, who is suspected of murder. Set during Zimbabwe’s break with British colonial rule, The Boy Next Door examines racial prejudice and post-colonial rule in the context of an interracial couple’s secrets. The award for new writers is given annually to the first published work of fiction by a woman of any nationality.
The New Yorker released its list (which, coming from the pages of The New Yorker is basically an award) of the 20 best writers under the age of 40 to watch, a list that, when last compiled a decade ago, included then-unknown writers Junot Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Jonathan Franzen (whose novel Freedom is due in late August). While the list certainly sent many young, hopeful writers to extra therapy sessions, the UK’s The Guardian noted that the list was an “interesting and diverse line-up.” The New Yorker editor David Remnick said the list is “meant to shine a light on writers and get people to pay attention.” Presumably he means to great literature and not to his own publication.
(Aw shucks, we are taking the piss out of the magazine a bit but who can resist? Don’t worry, this editor Lacey N. Dunham has a secret subscription to the magazine, proving that it’s okay to make fun of friends.)
So here, complete with books to recommend and their age, the top 20 list:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 32, is probably best known for her 2007 novel Half of a Yellow Sun. She has written other novels and, most recently, a short story collection.
Chris Adrian, 39, author of three novels (a forth is due later this year), including the McSweeney’s published The Children’s Hospital.
Daniel Alarcón, 33, a novelist, most recently edited The Secret Miracle: A Novelist’s Handbook.
David Bezmozgis, 37, has published a collection of short stories called Natasha: and other stories.
Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, 38, most recently published The Ms. Hempel Chronicles.
Joshua Ferris, 35, has published And Then We Came To The End and, most recently The Unnamed.
Jonathan Safran Foer, 33, is probably best known for Everything is Illuminated, a meta-novel whose American protagonist, Jonathan Safran Foer, travels to the Ukraine to uncover information about his Jewish grandfather.
Nell Freudenberger, 35, has published a novel, The Dissidents, and a short story collection, Lucky Girls.
Rivka Galchen, 34, published her first novel, Atmospheric Disturbances, in 2008.
Nicole Krauss, 35, is most known for her novel The History of Love. She has a new novel, Great House due out this fall.
Dinaw Mengestu, 31, is best known for The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears and has a forthcoming novel How To Read the Air due in October.
Philipp Meyer, 36, published his novel American Rust last year.
C .E. Morgan, 33, recently published her first novel, All the Living.
Téa Obreht, 24, is the youngest writer on the list. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker and The Atlantic, among others. Her novel The Tiger’s Wife is currently scheduled for publication in 2011.
Yiyun Li, 37, has published two collections of short stories and most recently the novel The Vagrants.ZZ Packer, 37, published a short story collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere in 2004.
Karen Russell, 28, has published the collection St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and has a novel, Swamplandia!, due in 2011.
Salvatore Scibona, 35, is the author of the novel The End.
Gary Shteyngart, 37, has published two novels, most notably Absurdistan. His latest novel, Super Sad True Love Story, will be published in July.
Wells Tower, 37, has published a collection of short stories, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned.