Isabel Wilkerson and Bryan Washington Among the National Book Critics Circle Awards Finalists | Book Pulse

Finalists for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Awards are out and include Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, Memorial by Bryan Washington, Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, and more. The Russian by James Patterson and James O. Born leads holds this week. The People "Picks" book of the week is American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption by Gabrielle Glaser. Plus, reviews and more buzz for Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion.

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Awards News

Finalists for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Awards are out. They've also announced the winner of the annual prize for a working book critic, and a lifetime achievement award. Winners in each of the six categories, plus the winner of the Leonard Prize for best first book, will be announced during the virtual ceremony that will be held Mar. 25.

The Women's Book Awards from the Story Circle Network are also out. See the shortlists for the Sarton Awards and the Gilda Prize, and look out for winners to be announced in April. 

How to Wash a Heart by Bhanu Kapil (Liverpool Univ.) wins the 2020 T. S. Eliot Prize.

Big Books of the Week

The Russian by James Patterson and James O. Born (Little, Brown: Hachette) leads holds this week.

Other titles in demand include:

Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz (Minotaur: Macmillan)

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon (Berkley: Penguin)

The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell (Pocket: S. & S.)

Highland Treasure by Lynsay Sands (Avon: HarperCollins)

These books and others publishing the week of Jan. 25, 2021 are listed in a downloadable spreadsheet

Librarians and Booksellers Suggest

There is 1 LibraryReads selection arriving this week:

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon (Berkley: Penguin)

"Shay's lifelong dream has been to be in radio, and she's been working at a Seattle NPR station since she was 19. Ten years later, she and new wunderkind Dominic create a show around the idea that they're exes talking about relationships. The burn between Shay and Dominic is slow, intense, and HOT. Give to fans of The Kiss Quotient and The Hating Game.” —Jessica Werner, Seattle Public Library, Seattle, WA

There is 1 title on the Indie Next list coming out this week:

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes (Harper)

"From The Aeneid to The Iliad and The Odyssey, classic stories of the Trojan War are implicitly reliant on the role of women, however reticent they are portrayed. Finally — finally! — we have a retelling that does women, girls, and goddesses justice. Through the perspective of women in various places and times during the war, Natalie Haynes constructs an epic collage that follows the warriors, refugees, oracles, muses, wives, and daughters of Troy, Greece, and beyond in one of the most famous conflicts in world history." —Cat Chapman, The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, FL

In the Media

The February issue of Entertainment Weekly is out. The book review section covers Milk Fed by Melissa Broder (Scriber: S. & S.), which earns an A-, We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida (Ecco: HarperCollins), which earns a B+, and Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz (Grove; LJ starred review), which earns a B. There is a feature on Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion (Knopf: Random House). The issue includes the list of 15 anticipated books that is already online

The "Critic's Pick" is How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones (Little, Brown: Hachette), and an "Author Spotlight" features Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley (Henry Holt: Macmillan). Samantha Power, The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir (Dey Street: HarperCollins; LJ starred review), shares books that have been influential to her. There are interviews with Mark Harris, Mike Nichols: A Life (Penguin), R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell, editors of Kink: Stories (S. & S.), and Mateo Askaripour, Black Buck (HMH).

The "Must List" includes To All the Boys: Always and Forever, the film adaptation of Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (S. & S.), Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler (Catapult: Penguin), The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson (William Morrow: HarperCollins), and three cozy books recommendations: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Penguin Classics), A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Penguin; LJ starred review), and Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey (Knopf: Random House). There are recipes from The Nom Wah Cookbook by Wilson Tang and Joshua David Stein (Ecco: HarperCollins) and Martha Stewart's Cake Perfection by the editors of Martha Stewart Living (Clarkson Potter: Random House).

In this week's People, the "Picks" book of the week is American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption by Gabrielle Glaser (Viking: Penguin). Other books highlighted are The Center of Everything by Jamie Harrison (Counterpoint: Penguin), Consent by Annabel Lyon (Knopf: Random House), and the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn. Shea and Syd McGee, Make Life Beautiful (Harper Horizon), are the cover story. There's an interview with Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Unfinished: A Memoir (Ballantine: Random House), and one with Cameron Bloom, Penguin Bloom (Atria: S. & S.). Mashama Bailey, Black, White, and The Grey (Lorena Jones: Random House), shares a recipe.


The NYT reviews Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World by Simon Winchester (Harper): "...there is an astounding amount of information in 'Land,' much of it revealing, although it can also feel somewhat random." Also, The Bright Book of Life: Novels to Read and Reread by Harold Bloom (Knopf: Random House): "For those with the rage for reading and rereading, it is something of a feast; for others, it will be daunting." Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh (Gallery: S. & S.; LJ starred review): "While Brosh’s sly, goofy style still appeals, and presents even more variety here, the stories are uneven." Lunatic by Dan Mazur (Fanfare): "It’s a feminist book about following your passions over and against convention." Plus brief reviews of four recent crime novels.

USA Today reviews Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion (Knopf: Random House), which earns 4 stars: "The new book captures the essence of Didion in countless lapidary sentences."

The L.A. Times reviews We Came, We Saw, We Left: A Family Gap Year by Charles Wheelan (W. W. Norton): "A skeptical reader might wonder why the Wheelans have brought nine months of manic travel upon themselves and one another…Readers might also wonder why they should care."

Briefly Noted 

USA Today picks five books for the week.

CrimeReads has 10 new books for the week.

Amazon looks at books that present "The new Western."

NPR looks at three new romances.

Alice Hoffman shares her favorite recent reads with Amazon.

Entertainment Weekly has an excerpt from Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Scribner: S. & S.). It's due out Sept. 28.

Time has an adapted excerpt from How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates (Knopf: Random House). It's out Feb. 16.

Sleepless in Seattle screenwriter Jeff Arch has a forthcoming novel, Attachments (SparkPress), and The Hollywood Reporter has an excerpt. It's due out May 11. Also, cartoonist Ed Piskor is working on Red Room (Fantagraphics), a 12-issue anthology series launching in May.

SNL castmember Cecily Strong has a memoir due out Aug. 10. O: The Oprah Magazine has the cover reveal and some details about This Will All Be Over Soon (S. & S.).

The Washington Post has a Q&A with What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon (Beacon). 

Abigail Dean discusses the inspiration for Girl A (Viking: Penguin) with The Guardian.

The NYT has a profile of writer Michelle Burford, who most recently worked with Cicely Tyson on her memoir Just as I Am (HarperCollins).

Amazon interviews Lisa Gardner, Before She Disappeared (Dutton: Penguin; LJ starred review).

Poet Jameson Fitzpatrick talks about Pricks in the Tapestry (Birds) with The Rumpus.

The Millions speaks with Vendela Vida, We Run the Tides (Ecco: HarperCollins).

Esquire takes a look at the limited edition art book Neil Leifer. Boxing. 60 Years of Fights and Fighters by Neil Leifer (Taschen).

Jenny Offill, Weather (Knopf), does the "Questionnaire" for Book Marks.

Time: "Do you fear death?" Joan Didion, Let Me Tell You What I Mean (Knopf: Random House): "No. Well, yes, of course."

The New Yorker features Kink: Stories edited by R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell (S. & S.).

Madeleine Watts discusses The Inland Sea (Catapult: Penguin) with BOMB.

Electric Lit has a Q&A with Aoko Matsuda, Where the Wild Ladies Are (Soft Skull Press).

Karl Ove Knausgaard, In the Land of the Cyclops (Archipelago: Random House), shares some cultural recommendations with The Guardian.

Book Riot suggests various ways to find books to read.

NPR's Marketplace looks into why books have prices printed on them.

Publishers Weekly has an explainer on the class-action lawsuit about price-fixing in the e-book market. Plus, thoughts on the future of conservative publishing.

Author and scriptwriter Walter Bernstein has died. The Washington Post has an obituary.

Authors on Air

Savvy Media has picked up the rights to Driven: The Race to Create the Autonomous Car by Alex Davies (S. & S.). Deadline reports.

Paramount Animation will adapt the forthcoming C.O.S.M.O.S. series by Tom Wheeler. The Hollywood Reporter has info.

There's a trailer for Superman & Lois, which debuts on The CW on Feb. 23.

The first book in the Embers of War series by Gareth L. Powell will be adapted for TV. Variety has details. 

The Keen On podcast speaks with Paul Jankowski, All Against All: The Long Winter of 1933 and the Origins of the Second World War (Harper).

Walter Mosley interviews Nikky Finney, Love Child's Hotbed of Occasional Poetry: Poems & Artifacts (Triquarterly: Northwestern), on The Quarantine Tapes podcast.

The NYT Book Review podcast features Gabrielle Glaser, American Baby: A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption (Viking: Penguin), and Kenneth R. Rosen, Troubled: The Failed Promise of America’s Behavioral Treatment Programs (Little A: Amazon).

Shari Lapena, The End of Her (Pamela Dorman: Penguin), talks about writing thrillers with the CBC's The Next Chapter. Also, a conversation with Angela Misri, The Detective and the Spy (Cormorant). 

Natalie Haynes discusses A Thousand Ships (Harper) on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday.

NPR's All Things Considered has an interview with Cicely Tyson, Just as I Am (HarperCollins).

Beau Wise and Tom Sileo, Three Wise Men: A Navy SEAL, a Green Beret, and How Their Marine Brother Became a War's Sole Survivor (St. Martin's: Macmillan), appear on Fox & Friends Weekend.

The Today Show features Dear God: Honest Prayers to a God Who Listens by Bunmi Laditan (Zondervan: HarperCollins Christian).

Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Unfinished: A Memoir (Ballantine: Random House), is on with Ellen DeGeneres today.

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Correction: In the Jan. 14 edition of Book Pulse, we incorrectly headlined the post with "Nigerian Activist, Author, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Receives 2021 PEN Award for Freedom of Expression." That is incorrect. Tsitsi Dangarembga is Zimbabwean. We regret the error.

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