The 2021 Cundill History Prize Shortlist is Announced | Book Pulse

Shortlists are announced for the 2021 Cundill History Prize and the 2021 Financial Times Business Book of the Year. Interviews arrive with Alice McDermott of What About the Baby?: Some Thoughts on the Art of Fiction, Amor Towles of The Lincoln Highway, Hope Mohr of Shifting Cultural Power: Case Studies and Questions in Performance, Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano of Black, White, and the Grey: The Story of an Unexpected Friendship and a Beloved Restaurant, Gabrielle Union of You Got Anything Stronger?, Megan Abbott of The Turnout, and Colson Whitehead of Harlem Shuffle. There is adaptation news for Hugh Howey’s Wool.

Want to get the latest book news delivered to your inbox each day? Sign up for our daily Book Pulse newsletter.

Award News







2021 Cundill History Prize shortlist is announced.

2021 Financial Times Business Book of the Year Award shortlist is announced.

Page to Screen

September 24:

East of the Mountains, based on the book by David Guterson. Quiver Distribution. Reviews | Trailer

Birds of Paradise, based on the book Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small. PrimeVideo. No reviews | Trailer

Foundation, based on the book series by Isaac Asimov. Apple TV+. No reviews | Trailer

September 27:

Midsomer Murders, based on the Chief Inspector Barnaby book series by Caroline Graham. Acorn TV. No reviews | Trailer

September 29:

No One Gets Out Alive, based on the book by Adam Nevill. Netflix. No reviews | Trailer

Sounds Like Love, based on the book Canciones y recuerdos by Elísabet Benavent. Netflix. No reviews | Trailer

September 30:

After We Fell, based on the book by Anna Todd. Vertical Entertainment. Reviews | Trailer

Baki Hanma, based on the manga series Baki the Grappler by Keisuke Itagaki. Netflix. No reviews | Trailer

Big Sky, based on The Highway book series by C. J. Box. ABC. Reviews | Trailer


NYT reviews The Sleeping Beauties: And Other Stories of Mystery Illness by Suzanne O’Sullivan (Pantheon): “But as O’Sullivan shows in her fascinating and provocative book, for poorly understood conditions that fall at the tangled intersection of body and mind, especially mysterious outbreaks of mass illness, we ignore social factors at our peril.” Also, Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Scribner; LJ starred review): "It’s a humane and uplifting book for adults that’s infused with the magic of childhood reading experiences. “Cloud Cuckoo Land” is ultimately a celebration of books, the power and possibilities of reading. Manuscripts do burn, but the fact we have held onto so many and still find continued value in reading them is an aspect of our humanity that this novel justly celebrates." Plus, When We Cease To Understand The World by Benjamín Labatut (New York Review Books): "With his slippery hybrid of fact and fiction, Labatut slyly applies the uncertainty principle to the human pursuit of knowledge itself. Abstraction and imagination, measurement and story coexist in a multidimensional reality containing infinite destinies and interpretations. At its furthest reaches, reason and scientific inquiry lead into the unknowable."

The Washington Post reviews Fuzz by Mary Roach (Norton; LJ starred review): "The result is a quixotic and somewhat meandering journey of a book, but one powerfully propelled by the force of Roach’s unflinching fascination with the weird, the gross and the downright improbable. Some nonfiction writers like to blend into the background, like game hunters in a blind, waiting for their subjects to produce the perfect quote; Roach is just as likely to stumble into the frame to deliver one of her own." Also, Harrow by Joy Williams (Knopf): “Between references to important and sometimes arcane classical literature and deliberately obscure vocabulary (gangrel, yaws, trephined, erlking, carling, to name just a few), “Harrow” insists that readers pay attention to the decline of the natural world. Williams brings up stories that may be imaginary in 2021 — like uteruses harvested from brain-dead bodies for rich women’s use — but feel all too probable in the world of “Harrow.”” Plus, Tunnel 29: The True Story of an Extraordinary Escape Beneath the Berlin Wall by Helena Merriman (PublicAffairs: Hachette): "The watch-me-write quality takes getting used to. But once you do, it hardly matters — you start to care about these people, to feel the taut urgency of their work and despair at the cruelty of a system that was as deranged as it was effective." And many more reviews posted today.

NPR reviews Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregor (Catapult): “Every sentence in Lean Fall Stand serves, in its style, as a quiet reminder of how difficult it can be to represent ourselves to others. No need to make the point loudly, too.”

The Millions reviews Shaky Town by Lou Mathews (Tiger Van: Ingram): “With Shaky Town, Lou Mathews has constructed a prismatic singularity replete with elegant and empathetic renderings of people forced to weigh difficult choices. The stories gleam, despite their sadness, with the glow of every person’s potential to rise above the wreckage that surrounds them or, if nothing else, to go down swinging for what they know, beyond all else, is true.”

Locus Magazine reviews Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho (Small Beer: Consortium): “That cultural contrast between British and Ma­laysian (or sometimes Chinese) approaches to the spirit world is perhaps the most fascinating recurring theme in the collection.”

Jezebel reviews Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement by Tarana Burke (Flatiron; LJ starred review): “Unbound is written specifically for survivors and young Black women who, like Burke, have been disbelieved, discarded, and left behind in the various movements meant to include all women and survivors. It is for the unloved and those still suffering in silence who need to know that there is something on the other side of hurt.” Also, Bitch MediaBut Burke also believes in the transformative potential of community. Her own background in organizing workshops that offer Black, underprivileged girls safe spaces to experience empathy and express their pain testify to the power of community for those who experience sexual violence. The difference between a community that harms and one that uplifts, she writes, is crucial.”

Book Marks has "The Best Reviewed Books of the Week."

Briefly Noted

Alice McDermott, What About the Baby?: Some Thoughts on the Art of Fiction (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux: Macmillan), talks to Kristopher Jansma for Bomb Magazine.

Amor Towles, author of The Lincoln Highway (Viking), speaks to NYT’s By the Book about the “best book [he] ever received as a gift” and more.

Jezebel interviews Cassandra Peterson, Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark (Hachette), on “coming up with Elvira, coming clean in her book, and coming out.”

Kim Thúy, Em (Bloomsbury: Macmillan; LJ starred review), “revisits the horror and beauty of Vietnam’s past” with CBC Books.

Datebook features Hope Mohr, author of Shifting Cultural Power: Case Studies and Questions in Performance (University of Akron: Baker & Taylor), who “elegantly weaves intellectual argument with artistic how-to guide.”

Authors Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano discusses their book, Black, White, and the Grey: The Story of an Unexpected Friendship and a Beloved Restaurant (Lorena Jones: Random House), with Shondaland, as a “unique culinary collaboration.” Also, Kerry Cohen of Crazy for You: Breaking the Spell of Sex and Love Addiction (Hachette Go) discusses “the myths and mystery of love and sex addiction.” 

The Washington Post interviews Mary Roach, Fuzz (Norton; LJ starred review), about "theiving monkeys and felonious caterpillars."

Gabrielle Union, You Got Anything Stronger? (Dey Street Books), chats about “why women can stop chasing after balance” with Salon. Also, Parade spoke to her about finding “peace in vulnerability.” Plus, “12 Books By Women That Gabrielle Union is Recommending Most.”

The Root Presents It’s Lit explores Alicia Garza’s The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart (One World: Penguin) and features PageTurners where “authors and characters play ‘make believe’.”

Ryan Van Loan, The Justice in Revenge (, writes a piece for CrimeReads about “finding the mystery in epic fantasy.”

Electric Lit shares an excerpt of Shruti Swamy’s The Archer (Algonquin) and an interview with the author. Also, Adam Wilson, Flatscreen (HarperCollins) writes a piece about how his Jewish heritage “shaped [his] experience of grief and hope.” Lit Hub has an excerpt of Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark by Cassandra Peterson (Hachette).

Lit Hub features a piece about a “human library” in Copenhagen that allows patrons to check out other people.

NYPL provides “Decadent Cookbooks for True Chocolate Lovers.”

AARP gives “26 Works of Fiction to Read This Season.”

Chicago Reader shares “In the rush of ‘big’ books season, don’t overlook these 5 titles.”

Book Riot lists “The Best Horror Books of the Decade,” “10 Authors Like Shirley Jackson,” “10 Delicious Coffee Shop Romances,” and “20 Unabashedly Bi Books for Bi Visibility Day.”

Popsugar provides “11 Touching Novels You Won’t Put Down If You Love Sally Rooney” and “15 Novels by Dominican Authors We’re Immediately Adding to Our Fall Reading List.”

Esquire gives “10 Books About Ghosts That Will Scare the Sh*t Out of You-and Make You Smarter.”

Electric Lit shares “9 Diverse Novels Starring Bisexual+ Main Characters.”

Bustle has “26 Books By Latinx Authors To Read Now & Always.”

NYT lists "8 New Books We Recommend This Week" and "New in Paperback: 'The Devil You Know' and 'The Lying Life of Adults'."

Authors on Air

Hugh Howey’s Wool (Mariner: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) will be adapted for Apple, starring Rashida Jones and David Oyelowo. has more.

George R. R. Martin chats with The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of podcast about “quitting comics [and] collecting toy knights.”

Megan Abbott, The Turnout (Putnam; LJ starred review), talks to the Book Dreams podcast about “the tortured insular worlds of ballet and gymnastics.”

Brené Brown interviews Esther Perel, The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity (HarperCollins), to talk about “partnerships, patterns, and paradoxical relationships” on her Unlocking Us podcast.

Colson Whitehead discusses his latest, Harlem Shuffle (Doubleday; LJ starred review), with CBC Listen.

Jeanette Winterson, 12 Bytes: How We Got Here. Where We Might Go Next (Grove), talks to the Keen On podcast about "how artificial intelligence will change the way we live and love."

Want to get the latest book news delivered to your inbox each day? Sign up for our daily Book Pulse newsletter.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing