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Book News: Contenders Revealed For First Folio Prize For Fiction

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • The shortlist of the , which is open to writers of any genre or nationality, is due to be announced later today — but has already been leaked via social media. The prize, worth £40,000 (about $65,500) was established last year to "celebrate the best fiction of our time, regardless of form or genre, and to bring it to the attention of as many readers as possible." The shortlist: Red Doc> by Anne Carson, Schroder by Amity Gaige, Last Friends by Jane Gardam, Benediction by Kent Haruf, The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride, A Naked Singularityby Sergio De La Pavaand Tenth of December by George Saunders. The winner of the prize will be announced on March 10.
  • The English comedian Les Dawson secretly wrote a romantic thriller novel under the name Maria Brett-Cooper. Dawson, who died in 1993, never published the manuscript, but his family found it while moving to a new house. Set during the Civil War, it involves a stash of cursed gold bullion. The BBC provides this excerpt: "As the dark bars of dusk fingered the sky, Janine excused herself shyly and whispered that she was going to prepare for bed, and she blushed fiercely. Caldwell merely smiled as he poured out yet another whiskey and water, and stood and held his glass towards her. 'I won't be long my dear. Just one cigar, hey?' " Dawson's daughter Charlotte told the BBC that she plans to finish the novel and publish it: "This is a novel — a romantic novel — that I found when I was moving from the house that I lived in with my dad in Lytham. The novel was never ever published. He was about to publish it before he died. And obviously I've read it all and what I'm going to do — because it needs a bit of tweaking and adding bits on — is finish writing it and then hopefully publish it."
  • DreamWorks will begin publishing children's books based on its movies, The Wall Street Journalreports. DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told the newspaper that "reading with a child is still a cherished experience. And giving kids e-books with interactive elements has shown itself to be a growth business in publishing."
  • Nathan Filer's debut novel, Where the Moon Isn't, was published last year in the U.S. to scant applause. Then it won the prestigious Costa Book of the Year award under its British title, The Shock of the Fall. Now, Filer's publisher is republishing it in America with the British title, hoping it will be better received this time. Jennifer Enderlin, the publisher of St. Martin's, explained to the New York Times,"We're going to give it a whole new push, as if it's a first-time publication again. We want it to get the attention that it deserves."
  • The Best Books Coming Out This Week:

    The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural Historyby Elizabeth Kolbert. There have been five mass extinctions in the history of the world. The sixth one, according to New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert, is happening now. In cool, understated writing, Kolbert makes a convincing case that pollution, habitat-destruction and even climate change are contributing to a mass extinction. Of all the animals Kolbert describes, from the rhino to the frog to the dodo, she is perhaps most insightful about the human: "the sort of creature who could wipe out its nearest relative, then dig up its bones and reassemble its genome."

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.
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