National Book Critics Circle Announces Finalists for 2017 Awards

IMG_8528.jpgThe National Book Critics Circle has announced today winners of three prestigious prizes and nominees in nonfiction, biography, autobiography, poetry, criticism and fiction. The awards will be announced on March 15.

  • Carmen Maria Machado’s debut story collection, Her Body and Other Parties (Graywolf), is being honored with the John Leonard Prize, which recognizes an outstanding first book in any genre. It is named in honor of founding NBCC member John Leonard.
  • Charles Finch is being awarded the 2017 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.
  • The Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award will go to John McPhee.
Here is the complete list of NBCC Award finalists:

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2017 Year in Review in Podcasts

9fe8d62a052c05af026cccbc86ce1073e04f363fcc7c5fda6ce7b40c5ac23fad0bc8595632402b605e0683e40a6726f8cd25a9ee88ca38a3b1ac33b108a7c5c2A new podcast for me this year, and for everyone, is Pod Save America, the podcast created by former speechwriters in President Obama’s administration. It acts as a tonic or a resistance in the Trump era. It seems to be a successful rallying cry so far for people who are disillusioned at the current government. It is one of the most popular podcasts now. They are even taking the show on the road. It is released twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, which is a little too much for me. I enjoy the Monday ones the best, probably because the hosts are Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor, in addition to Jon Favreau, who I think do a better job than for the Thursday show when it is just Favreau and Dan Pfieffer. Favreau is usually in the role of setting things up, kind of the straight man, so it is stronger when there are two people playing off him instead of one (and Pfeiffer does have a hesitating way of speaking that isn’t great for audio). Also, as the show develops further, they have to find a way of better integrating the guest interviews with the introductory news punditry round-up: too often they steal the thunder from their guests, and so why listen to their guests?

You can find the podcast here:

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Lincoln in the Bardo and the impossible audiobook

audiobook_ilOn paper, it sounds like something magnificent: master short-story writer George Saunders’s very first novel! An examination of a moment in the life of America’s greatest president!

As Penguin Random House says:

George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

And then there’s the audiobook: 166 characters! 166 voices!

“The first truly blockbuster audiobook? …  it’s going to be incredible”

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2016 Year in Review

Fifty-six blog posts published so far this year

Number one, most-read blog post: Review of Justin Cronin’s “City of Mirrors”

Number one, most-watched videos: Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s “Can’t Help Myself” from the Guggenheim Museum

Two poems published: “That Day in Assisi” and “For Your Own Safety”

One short story published: “Auntie Lovely Says Goodbye”

Two countries visited: Guatemala, South Korea

Twenty-four books read



Twenty-one seconds: Best completion time of the NYTimes mini puzzle


Patronus: Fox



Participation Award: La Tortilla Cooking School, Antigua, Guatemala



Why you should download the massive, free e-book ‘Up and Coming’

AnthoCover3_400.pngWhat is the future of science fiction?

It could be in the pages of Up and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell Eligible Authors.

You can download the book here:

Hurry up, though, the download will only be available until March 31, 2016.

What is a “Campbell Eligible Author” you may ask? These are writers who are new to the science fiction and fantasy field with their first professionally paid publications. The John W. Campbell Award is presented at the World Science Fiction Convention (this year, it will be held in Kansas City, Mo., in August). More info on the awards is available here:

I was happy to see lots of writers that are familiar to me from my reading of shot stories and/or SFF-related blogs, including:

  • Nicolette Barischoff
  • S.B. Divya
  • David J́on Fuller
  • Jaymee Goh
  • LS Johnson
  • Alyssa Wong
  • Jeff Xilon
  • Isabel Yap

So you could consider this list of writers as a point of entry into this tome. You may find plenty of your gems in it, though.

Let me know what you find and recommend.