By Shoaib Alam, Colorado Review Associate Editor
Literary awards are all over the news recently. Here at Colorado Review, submissions closed not too long ago for the 2015 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction. The winner will be announced in July. The final judge is Lauren Groff.
Meanwhile, Akhil Sharma won the second Folio prize for fiction for his novel Family Life. In interviews Sharma has talked about the painful process behind the novel — it took thirteen years to complete and he frequently thought of quitting. Interestingly, readers can see all the titles that were in the running for this year’s Folio prize here. Ali Smith and Colm Toíbín were reportedly frontrunners. George Saunders won the Folio prize last year for Tenth of December.
The announcement of the Man Booker Prize 2015 shortlist was made this week. Ten nationalities are represented in the list, six appearing for the first time. Poet and novelist Fanny Howe is the only American writer represented. The last two winners of the Man Booker have also been Americans — Lydia Davis (2014) and Philip Roth (2011). The winner will be announced on May 19.
In technology news, HarperCollins will be making more than 14,000 of its backlist titles available to users of Playster, a media platform that also offers music, television and games. Playster is currently in BETA; the app will be released this summer. Available titles include American Sniper by Chris Kyle and Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis.
The publisher is also in the news because it recently unveiled the cover of the forthcoming Harper Lee novel Go Set a Watchman. It features a tree with sparse leaves and an approaching train against a bluish background reminiscent of the familiar cover of To Kill a Mockingbird.
The UK cover by Heinemann is of a burnt orange variety and features a bird sitting on a branch. It has been stirring up some confusion because the words ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ appear around the title of the novel, leading to humorous responses on social media. The novel is expected to make a commercially successful debut in July.
Literary history buffs may be interested to know that the remains of Cervantes have been found. Spanish researchers claim they found bone fragments of the famous creator of Don Quixote in a crypt using multiple technologies including “infrared cameras, 3D scanners and ground-penetrating radars.” Cervantes’ initials also appear on a casket in the same crypt. DNA tests are going to be carried out though there is no known person with whom to compare the results. Other research suggest that young girls outperform boys globally when it comes to reading skills and have been doing so for quite some time.
In new books, Hanif Kureishi’s seventh novel The Last Word came out recently and reviews are critical. Upcoming attractions from other renowned writers include T.C. Boyle’s novel The Harder They Come, Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child, Rebecca Makkai’s Music for Wartime, Jim Shepard’s The Book of Aron and Kent Haruf’s Our Souls at Night. Jim Shepard and Kent Haruf have both served as judges for the Nelligan Prize.