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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Auster’

Betting Site Ranks Amos Oz as 2009 Nobel Prize Favorite

award.jpgAs literary types speculate about this year’s nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature before the October announcement date, UK gamblers are hard at work trying to predict a winner of the prestigious prize.

According to the betting site Ladbrokes, Israeli author Amos Oz has the best odds of winning–the 4 to 1 favorite. The long shots are William H. Gass and Paul Auster, both with 100 to 1 odds. Bob Dylan clocks in with 25 to 1 odds. Americans Joyce Carol Oates and Philip Roth both have strong 7 to 1 odds. Haruki Murakami and Thomas Pynchon both weigh in with respectable 9 to 1 odds.

Here’s more from Monsters & Critics: “The Swedish Academy’s choice is due to be announced in October at a date yet to be announced. In recent years, the academy that awards the coveted prize, has made some surprise choices, including the 1997 selection of Italian playwright Dario Fo.”

American Readers: Rising Up or Fading Out?

1242299192488.jpgOn Friday afternoon, American readers were praised, teased, and celebrated during a lively BEA panel discussion moderated by Granta‘s newly-appointed acting editor, John Freeman. The editor grilled novelists Olga Grushin, Sherman Alexie, and Paul Auster about the literary journal’s new fiction issue and American letters.

Alexie made a controversial point about readership: “All of us are writing for college-educated middle-aged white women,” he said. “Look around you. Count!” The audience ruefully complied, testing his generalization.

Grushin recalled how she moved to the United States as a 17-year-old student and read American writers for a year straight, hoping to strike up literary conversations. “I thought I could come here and talk to people about what I read–boy was I wrong!” she said, and the audience giggled nervously. She recounted telling an American teenager that her favorite authors were Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. “I’ve never read those Russian writers,” replied her young friend.

Auster concluded the discussion with an unwavering faith in his country’s pool of writers. “This is what makes American literature so vital–it’s so full of talent that these things bubble up anyway; despite the recession, despite declining literacy rates, there are as many poets now as there ever was.”

Scene @ the American Academy of Arts and Letters Annual Ceremonial

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What do Joan Acocella, Paul Auster, David Markson, Don DeLillo, John Updike, William Vollmann, Deborah Eisenberg, Stephen Sondheim, Reynolds Price, Richard Ford, Garrison Keillor, Jim Harrison, Mary Gordon, John Corigliano and many, many more luminaries in the literary, artistic and music worlds have in common? They all sat on the stage at the American Academy of Arts & Letters‘ Annual Ceremonial, held in the organization’s Harlem-area auditorium to honor the best and brightest in the arts. Some, like Gold Medal for Fiction winner Updike, have been members for nearly half a century; others, like Dana Spiotta, Junot Diaz, Tony D’Souza and Adam Rapp, received generous monetary awards honoring their recent writing-related outputs.

It may just be my own biased viewpoint that makes me think the Academy is a well-kept secret within the current state of the arts community, but then, it might not: while the turnout was strong, it was decidedly bereft of publishing professionals and those under the age of 35. And Academy President Ezra Laderman‘s opening remarks, highlighting how “we’re in an extraordinary time for the arts” thanks to questions about intellectual property, the decline of a proper arts curricula in any American school and eschewing artistic endeavors for market forces, had just the barest whiff of the old school. And yet it was remarkably clear how much the Academy, and its members, care about the arts and about ensuring that promising writers and artists continue the non-profit’s legacy, and how old school values produce a certain dignity that’s easy to admire. One need only listen to Updike’s spare remarks about how his induction into the Academy as its then-youngest member helped further his career by exposing him to peers as well as “magi-like writers” whom he revered. Bestowing awards onto Diaz and Spiotta is a step to the future, and I look with interest to see which younger writers the Academy recognizes from here on in.

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Hidden Gems Among the Remaindered

Before Chicago Sun-Times Books editor Cheryl Reed went away to India, she attended the 16th annual Chicago International Remainder & Overstock Book Exposition, known to one and all in the publishing world as CIROBE. And as Reed discovers after a bookseller has located a copy of her latest book, no author wants to find her book here. “Welcome to the used car lot of the book world or — as I see it — the publishing world’s version of limbo, the waiting ground for books in between bookstore and pulp fire pit,” Reed says. “These books are either overproduced, undersold or their publishers just want to clear their warehouses for newer, flashier models. With stacks piled across the vast expanse underneath the Michigan Avenue Hilton, this is the largest remainder book sales convention in the world.”

But to those like Powell’s bookstore co-owner Brad Jonas, CIROBE is a treasure trove of good stuff, from the early editions of Barack Obama‘s DREAMS FOR MY FATHER – which he bought at 22 cents a copy back in the day – to authors like Terry McMillan or Paul Auster he would never have discovered brand-new. “Remaindered books are given a rebirth,” he said. “It’s a chance for readers to discover authors that they didn’t read when the books first came out.” David Crane, who buys for Columbia Marketing, a London book firm, agrees.”This side of the business is important. this isn’t just selling books cheap. It’s about buying a book at the right price at the right time. This is the futures market for books. Some people are less likely to take a chance with an author at $25 but for $4 they will.”

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