Book Awards: March 2008 Archives

Oddest Book Title award chosen

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I can't tell you how thrilled I was to learn that there's an award out there for the Oddest Book Title. Who knew? I did not, but it kind of goes along with my Book of the Day idea that whatever catches my eye might get featured on this blog.

The 2007 Diagram Prize for the oddest title of the year goes to: If you Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start WIth Your Legs.


"The winner makes redundant an entire genre of self-help tomes,’’ said Joel Rickett, deputy editor of The Bookseller, a British magazine. ‘‘So effective is the title that you don’t even need to read the book itself.’’

The author, Big Boom (no kidding, that's the author) calls it a ‘‘self-help book, written by a man for the benefit of women.’’ It’s a book, he writes, that is ‘‘raw, honest and about you,’’ distilling ‘‘the sweat off my back, the wrinkles in my forehead from anger and thinking all the time.’’

Second and third place, respectively, went to I Was Tortured by the Pygmy Love Queen and Cheese Problems Solved. (I might mention here that neither these titles nor the winning title came through my Book Room. If they had, they most certainly would have warranted their own blog entries.)

Past winners include: Weeds in a Changing World (1999), The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories (2003); Bombproof Your Horse (2004); and The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification (2006).

Contributing: AP

PEN/Faulkner award announced

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NEW YORK (AP) — Kate Christensen’s The Great Man, a novel about a celebrated painter and the three essential women in his life, has won the PEN/Faulkner award for fiction, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation announced Wednesday.

Kate Christensen

Christensen, author of three previous novels, will receive $15,000. The four other finalists, each of whom will receive $5,000, are: Annie Dillard’s The Maytrees, David Leavitt’s The Indian Clerk, T.M. McNally’s The Gateway and Ron Rash’s Chemistry and Other Stories.

Previous winners of the award, established in 1980, include Philip Roth, E.L. Doctorow and Don DeLillo.

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., is a nonprofit organization ‘‘committed to building audiences for exceptional literature and bringing writers together with their readers.’’

National Book Critics Circle Awards announced

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NEW YORK — Stories from the island of Hispaniola were winners Thursday night at the National Book Critics Circle awards: Dominican-American Junot Diaz took the fiction prize for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Edwidge Danticat of Haiti was cited in autobiography for Brother, I’m Dying.

The general nonfiction prize went to Harriet A. Washington’s Medical Apartheid, while the winner in biography was Tim Jeal’s Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa’s Greatest Explorer. The poetry award went to Mary Jo Bang for Elegy, and the criticism winner was Alex Ross’ The Rest is Noise.

Books Book Critic Awards
Winning authors (from left): Tim Jeal, Mary Jo Bang, Alex Ross, Edwidge
Danticat , Emilie Buchwald, Sam Anderson, and Harriet Washington.
Not pictured is Junot Diaz.
(Seth Wenig~AP)

Diaz, whose novel tells of a young, obese Dominican immigrant and his tragicomic quest for love, was on his way to Venezuela on Thursday night for personal reasons and his award was accepted by Sean McDonald of Riverhead Books. He joked that ‘‘some distinct shouting’’ could probably be heard all the way from Caracas, or at least the muffled sounds of ‘‘the vestigial part of his brain being blown.’’

Danticat — known for such fiction as The Dew Breaker and Krik? Krak! — said she was a bit out of place in nonfiction, telling her fellow finalists that ‘‘I feel like I’m visiting your category’’ and promising ‘‘to speak well of this world’’ when she got back to writing fiction.

Jeal spoke of the many years working on his book about the famed explorer Henry Stanley, a process he described as ‘‘mammoth’’ and ‘‘irksome.’’

Bang offered a more personal memory. She recalled a sixth-grade play in which she was to portray the season of spring and ‘‘slink across the stage in diaphanous scarves.’’ The play was canceled after a parent protested, thinking Bang would only be wearing scarves. So, on Thursday, she thanked the critics for ‘‘restoring my moment on stage.’’

Two honorary awards also were presented. Literary critic Sam Anderson of New York magazine received the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, and Emilie Buchwald, co-founder of the Milkweed Editions publishing house, won the Ivan Sandrof Life Achievement Award.

The National Book Critics Circle, founded in 1974, has about 500 members. There were no cash prizes.


About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Book Awards category from March 2008.

Book Awards: February 2008 is the previous archive.

Book Awards: April 2008 is the next archive.

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