Books

LAT announces book prizes in New York again

Essayist William Kittredge will pick up the Robert Kirsch Award on April 27 when the winners in the following Los Angeles Times Book Prize categories will be announced. Finalists were disclosed yesterday in New York, where Times editor Jim O'Shea and book editor David Ulin confirmed for the first time that changes are coming in the paper's Book Review. They would not give specifics to the LAT's own reporter, but I've reported at LA Observed that the leading concept — already prototyped — is for the Book Review to be folded in with the Current section and published on Saturdays as a tabloid. I know of at least one big national news outlet doing a story on the future of the LAT Book Review, which may be why both editors sought to assure readers that coverage won't slip:

O'Shea, acknowledging the uncertain economics facing newspapers across the nation, said: "With turmoil comes change, and with change we get dark rumors of dread and doom. I understand that one of those rumors is now abuzz in the book industry, namely that the Los Angeles Times is about to diminish its coverage of books. So let me set the record straight. That rumor is untrue. The paper and its editor remain deeply committed to vigorous literary coverage and our unique and signature event, the L.A. Times Festival of Books, to be held in Los Angeles late next month."

Ulin, speaking next, said: "I won't speak too specifically about what's upcoming with the L.A. Times Book Review, mostly because we're still in the midst of working it all out. But I do want to say that as we revamp the design of the section, we will be redistributing book coverage, expanding it in the daily paper and also taking steps toward enhanced coverage on the Web."

Now the finalists:

Finalists in Biography:
Debby Applegate for "The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher" (Doubleday)
Rodney Bolt for "The Librettist of Venice: The Remarkable Life of Lorenzo Da Ponte, Mozart's Poet, Casanova's Friend and Italian Opera's Impressario in America (Bloomsbury USA)
Neal Gabler's "Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination" (Alfred A. Knopf)
Jeffrey Goldberg's "Prisoners: A Muslim and a Jew across the Middle East Divide (Knopf)
Daniel Mendelsohn's "The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million" (HarperCollins)

Finalists in Current Interest:
Douglas Brinkley's "The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast" (William Morrow/HarperCollins)
Ian Buruma's "Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance" (Penguin Press)
Rajiv Chandrasekaran's "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone" (Knopf)
Alicia Drake's "The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfield, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris" (Little, Brown)
Terri Jentz's "Strange Piece of Paradise" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Nominees in Fiction:
David Mitchell for "Black Swan Green: A Novel" (Random House)
Peter Orner for "The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo: A Novel" (Little, Brown)
Susan Straight for "A Million Nightingales" (Pantheon Books)
Daniel Woodrell for "Winter's Bone: A Novel" (Little, Brown)
A. B. Yehoshua for "A Woman in Jerusalem," translated from the Hebrew by Hillel Halkin (Harcourt)

Finalists for the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction:
Tony D'Souza for "Whiteman" (Harcourt)
Lisa Fugard for "Skinner's Drift: A Novel" (Scribner)
Jennifer Gilmore for "Golden Country: A Novel" (Scribner)
Alice Greenway for "White Ghost Girls" (Black Cat/Grove Atlantic)
Janis Cooke Newman for "Mary: A Novel" (MacAdam/Cage Publishing)

History finalists:
Taylor Branch's "At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1958" (Simon & Schuster)
Niall Ferguson's "The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West" (Penguin Press)
Nathaniel Philbrick's "Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War" (Viking)
John Tayman's "The Colony" (Lisa Drew/Scribner)
Lawrence Wrights' "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11" (Knopf)

Mystery/Thriller finalists:
Michael Connelly for "Echo Park: A Novel" (Little, Brown)
Patrick Neate for "City of Tiny Lights" (Riverhead Books)
George Pelecanos for "The Night Gardener: A Novel" (Little, Brown)
Jess Walter for "The Zero: A Novel" (HarperCollins)
Don Winslow for "The Winter of Frankie Machine" (Knopf).

Poetry finalists:
Erin Belieu for "Black Box" (Copper Canyon Press)
Adrian C. Louis for "Logorrhea" (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press)
Thom Satterlee for "Burning Wyclif" (Texas Tech University Press)
Frederick Seidel for "Ooga-Booga" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Michael Waters for "Darling Vulgarity" (BOA Editions)

Science and Technology nominees:
Joyce E. Chaplin for "The First Scientific American: Benjamin Franklin and the Pursuit of Genius" (Basic Books)
Ann Gibbons for "The First Human: The Race to Discover Our Earliest Ancestors" (Doubleday)
Eric R. Kandel for "In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind" (W.W. Norton)
Daniel J. Levitin for "This is Your Brain on Music: the Science of a Human Obsession" (Dutton)
Edward O. Wilson for "The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth" (W.W. Norton)

Finalists for Young Adult Fiction:
M.T. Anderson for "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party (Candlewick Press)
Coe Booth for "Tyrell" (Push/Scholastic)
John Green for "An Abundance of Katherines" (Dutton Books/Penguin Young Readers Group)
Meg Rosoff for "Just in Case" (Wendy Lamb Books/Random House Children's Books)
Nancy Werlin for "The Rules of Survival" (Dial Books/Penguin Young Readers Group)


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