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    Here’s the longlist for the 2023 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

    Literary Hub

    September 14, 2023, 3:15pm

    Today, the National Book Foundation announced the longlist for the 2023 National Book Award for Nonfiction. The ten titles on the longlist were selected from a pool of 638 books submitted for consideration by their publishers; this year’s judges for Nonfiction are Hanif Abdurraqib, Ada Ferrer (Chair), James Fugate, Sarah Schulman, and Sonia Shah.

    The finalists in all categories will be announced on Tuesday, October 3, and the winners will be revealed at the National Book Awards Ceremony on November 15, 2023.

    Here’s the 2023 Nonfiction longlist:

    Ned Blackhawk, The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History
    (Yale University Press)

    Jonathan Eig, King: A Life
    (Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers)

    Viet Thanh Nguyen, A Man of Two Faces: A Memoir, A History, A Memorial
    (Grove Press / Grove Atlantic)

    Prudence Peiffer, The Slip: The New York City Street That Changed American Art Forever
    (Harper / HarperCollins Publishers)

    Donovan X. Ramsey, When Crack Was King: A People’s History of a Misunderstood Era
    (One World / Penguin Random House)

    Cristina Rivera Garza, Liliana’s Invincible Summer: A Sister’s Search for Justice
    (Hogarth / Penguin Random House)

    Christina Sharpe, Ordinary Notes
    (Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers)

    Raja Shehadeh, We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I: A Palestinian Memoir
    (Other Press)

    John Vaillant, Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World
    (Knopf / Penguin Random House)

    Kidada E. Williams, I Saw Death Coming: A History of Terror and Survival in the War Against Reconstruction
    (Bloomsbury Publishing)

    Deesha Philyaw has signed a 7-figure book deal.

    Dan Sheehan

    September 14, 2023, 2:40pm

    Deesha Philyaw—the National Book Award finalist whose critically-acclaimed debut, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, had trouble finding a publisher—has just inked a seven-figure, two-book deal.

    The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, a collection of nine stories, was turned down by several major New York publishers before eventually being released by the tiny West Virginia University Press in 2020. It went on to become a surprise hit, winning the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Story Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and is currently being adapted for television by HBO Max with Tessa Thompson producing.

    Unsurprisingly, Philyaw and her team have found the major houses to be far more responsive this time around.

    As reported by the Associated Press earlier today:

    Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, announced Thursday that it had signed up Philyaw and will publish her novel The True Confessions of First Lady Freeman in 2025. Mariner calls the book a “biting satire” of the Black church and “a deeply provocative” story about family, friendship and “sexual agency.” Philyaw, who attended several different churches as a child, is centering the novel around a megachurch leader.

    “In writing True Confessions, I really wanted to explore the narratives that 40- and 50-something Black women sometimes tell ourselves—as well as the narratives told about us—regarding our desires and aspirations,” Philyaw said in a statement.

    Her second book for Mariner, Girl, Look, is billed by the publisher as a “poignant new collection, giving a vivid snapshot of the interior lives of Black women across generations, drawing readers to consider Black women and girls’ vulnerabilities, invisibility, and beautiful contradictions, in a post-COVID, post-Breonna Taylor world.” Mariner has not set a release date for Girl, Look.

    Belle & Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch is publishing a novel.

    Emily Temple

    September 14, 2023, 11:31am

    Well, it was inevitable: Stuart Murdoch is having his John Darnielle moment: the Scottish purveyor of your favorite “old sad bastard” music will publish his debut novel, Nobody’s Empire, with HarperVia (US) and Faber (UK) in September 2024.

    Here’s a brief description from the announcement on the band’s Instagram: “Part memoir and part fiction, the novel is set in Glasgow and California in the early 1990s and follows a character in ‘search of a new-world reinvention’ after having been in hospital for chronic fatigue syndrome.”

    “I drifted into writing Nobody’s Empire,” Murdoch told The Bookseller. “It felt like the right time to tell this story in long-form, even though I have been singing about it for years. I imagined I was writing it for the [myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome] community and as the book went on it became more important to me, gaining a life of its own. I needed it as much as it needed me and I leant heavily on it for solace. Therefore, when it was picked up by Faber for publication, I was elated and very relieved. Hopefully, this is the start of a beautiful relationship!”

    Too much to hope for a new album to go along with it?

    Photo: Marisa Privitera Murdoch

    Here’s the longlist for the 2023 National Book Award for Poetry.

    Literary Hub

    September 14, 2023, 10:15am

    Today, the National Book Foundation announced the longlist for the 2023 National Book Award for Poetry. The ten titles on the longlist were selected from a pool of 295 books submitted for consideration by their publishers; this year’s judges for Poetry are Rick Barot, Heid E. Erdrich (Chair), Jonathan Farmer, Raina J. León, and Solmaz Sharif.

    The finalists in all categories will be announced on Tuesday, October 3, and the winners will be revealed at the National Book Awards Ceremony on November 15, 2023.

    Here’s the 2023 Poetry longlist:

    John Lee Clark, How to Communicate
    (W. W. Norton & Company)

    Oliver de la Paz, The Diaspora Sonnets
    (Liveright / W. W. Norton & Company)

    Annelyse Gelman, Vexations
    (University of Chicago Press)

    José Olivarez, Promises of Gold
    (Henry Holt and Company / Macmillan Publishers)

    Craig Santos Perez, from unincorporated territory [åmot]
    (Omnidawn Publishing)

    Paisley Rekdal, West: A Translation
    (Copper Canyon Press)

    Brandon Som, Tripas
    (Georgia Review Books / University of Georgia Press)

    Charif Shanahan, Trace Evidence
    (Tin House Books)

    Evie Shockley, suddenly we
    (Wesleyan University Press)

    Monica Youn, From From
    (Graywolf Press)

    Exclusive: See the cover for Susan Rich’s latest collection, Blue Atlas.

    Literary Hub

    September 14, 2023, 10:00am

    Literary Hub is pleased to reveal the cover for Susan Rich’s sixth poetry collection, Blue Atlas, which will be published by Red Hen Press in April. Here’s a bit more about the book from the publisher:

    Blue Atlas is a lyrical abortion narrative unlike any other.

    This one-of-a-kind collection follows a Jewish woman and her ghosts as they travel from West Africa to Europe and, finally, to the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The speaker searches repeatedly for a new outcome, seeking answers in a myriad of mediums such as an online questionnaire, a freshman composition essay, and a curriculum vitae. The raw, often far from idyllic experience of a global love affair that results in an unplanned pregnancy is examined and meditated upon through a surreal prism. The Blue Atlas, a genus of the common cedar tree first found in the High Atlas of Morocco and known for its beauty and resilience, becomes a metaphor for the hardship and power of a fully engaged life.

    And here’s the cover, which was designed by Mark E. Cull, publisher of Red Hen Press:

    susan rich blue atlas

    “The cover of Blue Atlas was one of those instances that was a collaboration between the author and the designer,” Cull told Lit Hub. “In this case, the author, who was full of ideas, had access to a wonderful image of blue-glazed pots arranged against a tightly cropped frame of Mediterranean architecture. Half of these pots are seemingly empty while the other half hold the beginnings of something verdant that is just coming to life. The color and form of the image and the design make for a wonderful piece of eye candy that will make one stop and look and compel them to pick up the book to consider what lies inside.”

    “I love how this photograph in non-literal ways, encompasses my divergent worlds,” Rich explained.

    The attentive observer notices sea green illuminated walls and four pots glazed in an alchemical, lapis blue. Much like the poems contained in Blue Atlas which chronicle my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa, then a quick move to Paris, a hard land in New York, then finally culminating in a sensual journey to Morocco—this cover conveys a message of travel.

    It may only be me, but I believe the three-dimensional nature of these tall steps set against a rough-textured backdrop, hint at a kind of epic journey with shimmering highs and disastrous lows.

    My quest for cover art comes as an object lesson in joy and despair. I find depth and dimensionality in this chosen image: young garden herbs living on the edge of a borderless stairway.

    When I began my search, I had no idea what I wanted. I looked at at least a thousand images until these shapely pots arrived. While it’s true that I believe passionately in color and line, travel and the unknown, I didn’t understand that these beliefs would lead me to my cover.

    After a long internet search begun on Pinterest, I tracked down the photographer, Niranj Vaidyanathan, a software engineer based in Bangalore, India. Twelve years ago, while on a holiday in Mauritius, he snapped this photograph. Not only did Niranj immediately allow me to use his work, but he took just two days to lay his hands on the original image and send it off to Red Hen Press. It seems fitting for a lyric narrative that takes place on three continents to add a fourth by way of the photographer.

    My poetry collection, Blue Atlas, narrates events that span thirty years of my life, examining in multiple found forms a midterm abortion I had at 26. The poems borrow the shape of an online questionnaire, a freshman composition essay, a personification of the abortion question and other surreal strategies.

    This book has taken me more than a decade to write. During this time, the titular blue atlas has stood in for my map of sky and sea. The landscape I inhabit in Seattle, Washington, on the edge of the Puget Sound.

    Sometimes I look at the cover and think, if I could climb these stairs, where would they take me? Are they a pathway to connect me to a safer world? Can they bring me out of abandonment and shame? I believe they already have done so. Every time I see this cover, I’m filled with inexplicable peace.

    Recently, I’ve discovered that the blue atlas cedar is a tree that originated in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. A nomad of a tree, the blue atlas thrives in many climates, including the Pacific Northwest where I live. Like writing poems, choosing cover art is an act of the imagination, of instinct, of desire. Ultimately, it is an act of magic.

    Blue Atlas will be published by Red Hen Press on April 2, 2024. You can preorder it here.