Jason Reynolds Named National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Jan. 14, 2020 | Book Pulse

Jason Reynolds has been named the next National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Roger Robinson wins the TS Eliot prize. Leri Price wins the 2019 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation. There are plenty of reviews for the day, a list of small press titles to suggest, and Morbius gets a trailer.

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Award News

Jason Reynolds has been named the next National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.

British-Trinidadian poet Roger Robinson, A Portable Paradise (Peepal Tree Press) wins the TS Eliot prize. The Guardian has details.

Leri Price wins the 2019 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for her work on Death Is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa (Picador: Macmillan). The book was also a finalist for the National Book Award.

The nominees are out for the Philip K. Dick Award. The award is presented on April 10.

The Scotiabank Giller Prize will be open to graphic novels for the first time. Also, the jury for the prize is announced. The longlist will come out in September. The CBC has details.

Reviews

NPR reviews Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin's Russia by Joshua Yaffa (Tim Duggan Books: Random House): “a good book about Russia, but a great book about ethics, choice, and coercion — and to read it is to be reminded that one of democracy's most important freedoms is the freedom to be good.” Also, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn (Knopf; LJ starred review): “an agonizing account of how apathy and cruelty have turned America into a nightmare for many of its less fortunate citizens.”

The Washington Post reviews American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Flatiron: Macmillan; LJ starred review) “thrilling and devastating.” Also, Oligarchy by Scarlett Thomas (Counterpoint): “a strange but urgent glimpse into society’s often conflicting expectations of girls.” Lastly, the paper's children’s books column features titles that “explore challenge – and possibility.”

The NYT reviews Cleanness by Garth Greenwell (FSG: Macmillan): “incandescent.” Also Oligarchy by Scarlett Thomas (Counterpoint): “a study in obsessiveness pinned to a vague, whodunit structure we don’t really need, with a couple of barely felt deaths thrown in. But in Thomas’s hands we don’t care … In the best fiction, plot is strictly nonmandatory.” Little Gods by Meng Jin (Custom House: Harper): “expands the future of the immigrant novel even as it holds us in uneasy thrall to the past.” Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance by Zora Neale Hurston (Amistad: Harper): “helps illuminate Hurston’s path to iconic status.” The paper has a sample. The Secret Guests by Benjamin Black (Henry Holt: Macmillan; LJ starred review): “not so much a thriller as what Graham Greene called 'an entertainment'  … Although the tone is light, the novel is a mordant observation of the palimpsest of arrogance and resentment that is the legacy of Britain’s dealings with its neighbor.” The Great Concert of the Night by Jonathan Buckley (New York Review Books: Random House): “one reads this beautifully written book because the author provides food for thought with reflections on love, the imagination and death, laced with citations from Marcus Aurelius, Blaise Pascal and the Christian mystic Hildegard von Bingen. There is also a drolly comic side to the story.” Lord of All the Dead: A nonfiction novel by Javier Cercas, translated by Anne McLean (Knopf): “Cercas keeps his readers curious to the end … arguably even more important than its predecessor as a contribution to healing the wounds that remain open in Spain to this day.” Imperfect Union: How Jessie and John Fremont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War by Steve Inskeep (Penguin): “a fresh look that brings 21st-century vision to bear on the 19th-century story … He shines an unsparing light on his subjects, and he finds unnerving similarities between the Frémonts’ America and our own.” American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power by Andrea Bernstein (W.W. Norton): reportorial, pointed and unsparing, while reinforcing her theme that the Trumps and the Kushners are ruthless, cold, power hungry and endlessly ambitious.” The paper also runs an excerpt. The Great Rift: Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and the Broken Friendship That Defined an Era by James Mann (Henry Holt: Macmillan): “depicts in depressingly vivid detail Powell’s inability to summon the political and moral courage necessary to check Cheney’s foolhardy plans.” Extreme Economies: What Life at the World's Margins Can Teach Us About Our Own Future by Richard Davies (FSG: Macmillan): “But while the book is simultaneously entertaining, informative and balanced, one may be left wondering exactly what it amounts to.” World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond by Daniel Susskind (Metropolitan Books: Macmillan): “provides a useful exercise in planning for a more unequal future.” Bubble in the Sun: The Florida Boom of the 1920s and How It Brought on the Great Depression by Christopher Knowlton (S. & S.): “The one great weakness of “Bubble in the Sun” is the absence of those suckers. Entirely missing are the hapless (or, if you prefer, foolish, or credulous, or maybe just plain greedy) individuals who climbed aboard the bandwagon.”

Briefly Noted

BuzzFeed suggests “15 Small Press Books To Kick Off Your 2020 Reading Season.”

In Omnivoracious, six fantasy authors suggest the work of new authors.

Read with Jenna picks Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano (The Dial Press: Random House) as its January book club title, while Belletrist picks Creatures by Crissy Van Meter (Algonquin: Workman) for its January book club choice and The A.V. Club names Against the Country by Ben Metcalf (Random House) as its book club title for the month. And just in time, NPR has “How To Start A Book Club — That Actually Meets.”

Entertainment Weekly features Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, the creative force behind DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Paste excerpts Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco (JIMMY Patterson Books, Sept).

Tor.com excerpts Burn the Dark: Malus Domestica #1 by S. A. Hunt (Tor Books: Macmillan).

In more forthcoming book news, Paste has details about four news LyricPop titles from Akashic. These are picture books based on song lyrics.

The Washington Post interviews Joy Harjo, When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry (W.W. Norton).

Lit Hub talks with Jessica Andrews, Liz Moore, Kiley Reid, Scarlett Thomas, and Paul Yoon.

Authors on Air

Deadline reports that the HBO Max adaptation of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven is getting a new cast member.

The Hollywood Reporter has news that Ex Machina by Brian K. Vaughan is set for the movies.

PBS NewsHour interviews Terese Marie Mailhot, Heart Berries: A Memoir (Counterpoint).

NPR’s Fresh Air interviews David Zucchino, Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy (Atlantic Monthly Press).

The NYT has a report on the Oscar snubs and surprises. There is wide coverage on the snubs and what went wrong. Shelf Awareness has a good list of all the bookish nominees.

The Today show features Whole Food Cooking Every Day: Transform the Way You Eat with 250 Vegetarian Recipes Free of Gluten, Dairy, and Refined Sugar by Amy Chaplin (Artisan: Workman) and Comeback Careers: Rethink, Refresh, Reinvent Your Success--At 40, 50, and Beyond by Mika Brzezinski with Ginny Brzezinski (Hachette).

The Bookseller reports that Jane Crouch’s memoir The Final Round has been optioned for a TV series.

Rick Wilson, Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save America from Trump--and Democrats from Themselves (Crown Forum: Random House), will be on the Daily Show tonight.

Michael Bloomberg, Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet (St. Martin’s Press: Macmillan) will be on with Stephen Colbert.

Morbius gets a trailer. It will premiere this summer. The Hollywood Reporter digs in.

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