Wednesday, September 25, 2002

From Publishers Weekly Daily Online

Kiriyama Prize Finalists: Fostering Pacific Rim Understanding

Finalists for the 2001 Kiriyama Prize, which honors titles that
"encourage greater understanding among the peoples and nations of the
Pacific Rim," have been announced. The two winners, who will be
revealed October 29, will receive $15,000 each.

The fiction finalists (with the prize committee's notations):

Red Poppies by Alai, translated by Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun
Lin (Houghton Mifflin). This witty first novel by an ethnic Tibetan
living in Sichuan, China, is a complex political parable. Like the
"idiot" son who is the novel's narrator and unlikely hero, Alai's
story echoes a legendary Tibetan wise man who "preferred wisdom masked
by stupidity."

Melal: A Novel of the Pacific by Robert Barclay (The University of
Hawai'i Press). This debut novel by a doctoral student is a gripping
story and powerful social commentary. Set in a marginalized indigenous
community in the Marshall Islands, which the U.S. military used as a
nuclear testing ground, Barclay traces the horrific and tragic results
suffered by native islanders. The author is a former resident of
Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (Knopf). In this beautifully paced
and elegantly crafted novel, the acclaimed Indian-Canadian author
tells a story of familial love and obligation, political and personal
corruption, and religious complexity. In focusing on a Parsi family
living in Bombay, Mistry illustrates the universal in the particular.
Mistry was born in Bombay and immigrated to Canada in 1975.

The Girl From the Coast by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, translated by Willem
Samuels (Hyperion East). Widely considered Indonesia's greatest living
novelist, Ananta Toer's words were so feared by the Indonesian
government that he was held as a political prisoner for over 17 years.
This translation marks the first time The Girl From the Coast--the
story of a poor village girl who is forced into a loveless marriage
with a wealthy politician in late 19th century Java--has been
available in English.

Dirt Music by Tim Winton (Scribner). A lucid portrayal of three very
different characters as they journey to the Australian wilderness to
escape and atone for their pasts. In his seventh novel, Winton, one of
Australia's preeminent writers, has created a vivid and powerful
evocation of climate and landscape, along with a garrulous chorus of
supporting characters.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Shortlist Announced
24 September 2002

Yann Martel, Rohinton Mistry, Carol Shields, William Trevor, Sarah Waters and Tim Winton are the six authors shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2002, the UK's best known literary award. The shortlist was announced by chair of judges, Professor Lisa Jardine, at a press conference in London today (24 September, 2002).

The six shortlisted books for the Man Booker Prize 2002 are:

Yann Martel - Life of Pi (Canongate)

Rohinton Mistry - Family Matters (Faber and Faber )

Carol Shields - Unless (4th Estate)

William Trevor - The Story of Lucy Gault (Viking)

Sarah Waters - Fingersmith (Virago)

Tim Winton - Dirt Music (Picador)

Monday, September 23, 2002

Bold Type proudly presents the 2002 O. Henry Awards, judged this year by Joyce Carol Oates, Dave Eggers and Colson Whitehead. Read Kevin Brockmeier's First Prize story "The Ceiling" along with "March 15, 1997", an exclusive story that previews Brockmeier's
first novel, as well as "Charity" by Richard Ford. Listen to Anthony Doerr, Deborah Eisenberg and David Gates read from their superb stories with grace and humor. Also included in this feature is a full list of winners since 1919 and an index of literary magazines that publish original fiction.

Adam Haslett
A stranger no more
Adam Haslett balances law school with explosive literary success
David Wiegand, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, September 21, 2002
©2002 San Francisco Chronicle.


There probably aren't too many Elis running around New Haven these days who think of Yale Law School as a kind of career halfway house, but that's what Adam Haslett is doing in his final year of classes there. For three days of the week, he's focusing on criminal and appellate law at Yale. The rest of his time is spent back in his New York apartment, working on his first novel and, in essence, preparing for next year, when he will devote full time to an out-of-nowhere literary career that's made him one of the most talked about young writers of the year.

Tall and lanky, with a retreating hairline over a wide forehead, brown eyes and a sharply angular nose, Haslett, 31, is still a bit stunned at the reception his debut book of stories, "You Are Not a Stranger Here" (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday), has received since its publication this summer. Not only has the book drawn critical raves, it was also recently chosen by author Jonathan Franzen ("The Corrections") as the second selection in the NBC "Today" show's fledgling on-air book club. So far, there are 100,000 copies in print, a fairly amazing number for a first book of stories by a virtual unknown.

The nine stories in the book represent an unusual breadth of human experience, much of it at least initially disturbing: A man travels to England with his wife with the idea of committing suicide and meets an old woman who

is tending to a dying youth in a room that reeks of the ointment she spreads on the boy's ravaged body to ease his pain; a psychiatrist believes that he can help a woman whose now-dead son severed the fingers of one of her hands during a crystal meth binge; a teenage boy invites repeated physical and sexual brutalization by a school bully in order to unleash his repressed grief over his mother's suicide.

While some might simplistically call the stories sad or depressing, Haslett isn't defensive when he disagrees.

"I don't find them sad at all because for me the saddest thing is compulsory happiness, the notion that a happy ending is something we have to have," he says, sitting in the window seat of a Noe Valley Starbucks earlier this week. "I don't think stories have to have happy endings in order to be stories that contain a kind of redemptive quality."

While Haslett's stories may not fit the Aristotelian definition of comedy, their characters all undergo some kind of transformation, usually through contact with others who, often unwittingly, enable a kind of benedictive catharsis. The teenage boy is finally able to grieve; the suicidal man, whose wife is constantly afraid of leaving him alone for fear of what he'll do, finds solace in the company of the dying boy whose time is also growing short; the shrink reaches a new understanding of his own pain once he accepts the lonely mother's resolve to live with the loss of her son because it is now and forever a part of who she is.

"Depression is really like a total lack of emotion in a way, and I feel that if anything it's the opposite of depression or numbness that is the definition of true sadness," he says. "These people are flooded with feeling."

Haslett, the youngest of three children, was born in Kingston, Mass., to a businessman and a schoolteacher. His brother is a music journalist living in Cambridge, Mass., and his sister, with whom he stayed during his Bay Area book tour, is a documentary filmmaker at Stanford. During the equivalent of his junior high years, Haslett and his family lived in England, where his father was born.

"I was just a kid, then," he says. "At first I didn't want to go, and once I got there, I didn't want to leave. I did the whole British prep school thing,

with the shorts and the tie."

He still returns to the Scottish Highlands, where his stepfather lives, and several of his stories are convincingly set in England.

Haslett began writing fiction as an undergraduate at Swarthmore College, where he happened to take one seminar with Franzen. After college, he found himself trying to choose between writing and what he calls "a reliable life" in a solid profession, such as law. He was able to defer Yale while he studied at the Iowa Writers and the Provincetown Fine Arts Workshops. Today, he says, "it's still an open question" as to whether he'll ever practice law, now that he's making a name for himself as a writer.

Following its English sojourn, Haslett's family returned to upscale Wellesley, Mass., where his widowed mother still lives.

And now her handsome, single, gay son is the literary toast of the town and finishing his law studies at Yale. On the surface, Haslett's is an enviable life. One might even go so far as saying his has been a life of privilege and opportunity.

But a suggestion of something else begins, haltingly, to emerge when he is asked about his late father, who suffered from manic depression.

"It definitely impacted the family. It was a formative experience," he says,

adding that "there were times when he got to a point where he couldn't work."

He struggles for the right words for a second, admitting that he's never really talked much about his father's illness before.

"He was in psychiatric care. He wasn't necessarily always wanting to be in the care."

Although mental illness figures in some of Haslett's work, "there's nothing really literal [from his past] in the stories."

"I feel more liberated as a writer when I find things that are 45 degrees off to the side [of his own life], so that some of my experiences flow into them and shape them.

"I feel lucky to be able to write. It's the only thing I've ever done that sort of integrates the past with what happens in the present, and what could happen in the future. There aren't many activities in life that can do all of those things, and writing is one of them. So when it goes well it feels like a privilege."

If so, it's a privilege Adam Haslett has clearly earned.

E-mail David Wiegand at

©2002 San Francisco Chronicl

Most Americans Think They Have a Book in Them
Monday September 23, 5:20 am ET

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich., Sept. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Eighty-one percent of Americans feel they should write a book, according to a survey of 1,006 adult Americans commissioned by Jenkins Group, Inc., a Michigan publishing services firm, which sponsors the annual Independent Publisher Book Awards and issues the monthly online magazine Independent Publisher.
"Of course, most people will never get around to committing their thoughts to paper -- let alone get them published -- but it's astonishing how many people feel they have a story to tell," said Jenkins Group Chairman and CEO Jerrold Jenkins.

Jenkins estimates that 6 million Americans have actually written a manuscript -- just over 2% of the population -- while, based on ISBN numbers assigned, approximately 80,000 books get published each year. Jenkins added that the number of books annually making it into print is growing, thanks to a boom in independent and self-publishing.

Jenkins noted that while some respondents feel they could write more than one type of book, only about a quarter of Americans (27%) say they would write a work of fiction. "The bulk of prospective authors see themselves writing some form of non-fiction, be it a biography, self-help, do-it-yourself or cookbook."

Which of the Following Types of Books Do You Think You Have In You? (Some
respondents chose more than one option)
* Self-help/do-it-yourself -- 28%
* General non-fiction (history, biography, etc.) -- 27%
* Fiction -- 27%
* Some other type (cookbook, picture book, etc.) -- 20%

The proliferation of personal web sites and Blogs as well as the ease of writing and editing with word processing have caused more people to regard themselves as potential authors, believes Jenkins. "We're in an information-oriented society and technology today allows people to share their ideas easily and quickly with a wider audience than anyone could have imagined a decade ago.

"Still it's a big leap, going from personal musings on the Web or stories composed on a computer, to writing a book that merits publication," cautioned Jenkins. "Even among the growing number of self-publishers today, we see a level of quality and professionalism that sets them apart from the average American. Talent, originality, effort and determination tend to separate those who contemplate writing a book from those who actually do it."

The EXCEL Telephone Omnibus Survey of 1,006 adult Americans has a margin of error of +/-3.1%. It was conducted for Jenkins Group, Inc. by International Communications Research, Media, PA.

Jenkins Group, Inc. was founded in 1988 as a provider of services to independent, university and small press book publishers. Based in Traverse City, Mich., the company serves individual and corporate clients internationally with a full range of custom book publishing and packaging services, consulting services and marketing services to the specialty, non-traditional book market. For more information go to .

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