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Listomania: The rest of PW’s best for 2009, plus the Whiting Award

October 29, 2009

Dan Choan wrote only one of the 10 books named by Publishers Weekly as the year’s best. Setting aside the question of how such a list can be decided with two months yet to go (you mean Sarah Palin can’t win?!), the rest of the list includes Stitches, a graphic novel by David Small, who, like Chaon, will be at this year’s Miami Book Fair International.

The full list of PW notables:

The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes (Pantheon); Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon (Ballantine); Big Machine by Victor LaValle (Spiegel & Grau); Cheever by Blake Bailey (Knopf); A Fiery Peace in a Cold War by Neil Sheehan (Random); In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin (Norton); Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi by Geoff Dyer (Pantheon); Lost City of Z by David Grann (Doubleday); Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford (Penguin Press); and Stitches by David Small (Norton).

All these esteemed authors get from PW is bragging rights. The recipients of this year’s Whiting Writer’s Awards, given to “emerging writers,” get bragging rights, too. Plus $50,000. These authors’ books were not necessarily published in 2009.

This year’s honorees: Poet Jericho Brown, Please (New Issue Poetry & Prose, 2008); poet Jay Hopler, Green Squall (Yale University Press, 2005); Adam Johnson, fiction, Emporium (Viking, 2002) and Parasites Like Us (Viking, 2003); playwright Rajiv Joseph, Animals out of Paper, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo and the forthcoming Gruesome Playground Injuries; poet Joan Kane, The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife (NorthShore Press, 2009); nonfiction writer Michael Meyer, The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed (Walker & Company, 2008); novelist Nami Mun, Miles From Nowhere (Riverhead, 2009); nonfiction writer Hugh Raffles, In Amazonia: A Natural History (Princeton University Press, 2002); novelist Salvatore Scibona, The End (Greywolf Press, 2008); Short-story writer Vu Tran, an as-yet untitled collection forthcoming from W.W. Norton.

Congrats to the writers on both lists. Boy, I’ve got some reading to do. But I can vouch for Nami Mun, Daniyal Mueenuddin and David Grann. I reviewed all three of their books in one place or another.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. rachel permalink
    October 29, 2009 2:36 pm

    I too can vouch for Daniyal Mueenuddin.

    I cannot vouch for Blake Bailey’s bio of Cheever, however I am very pleased to see his name up there. In a roundabout way the release of his book got me to read Library of America’s collected Cheever stories. And so one could argue that he was responsible for me falling in love. I also was fortunate enough to go to the talk Bailey gave at BooksandBooks and really enjoyed everything he had to say about Cheever. Plus he seems to overall be a swell guy. I thought that I might read the bio but it is so very big and he gave us so much wonderful stuff when he spoke. Plus, I so quickly got distracted. It makes me happy to see that he is getting recognition for his book though.

  2. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    October 29, 2009 3:59 pm

    Oh, right. My eye glided right over Bailey. Yes, I can vouch for him, too. His Cheever biography is quite an achievement. Both respectful and challenging of its subject. Just right.

  3. Candice Simmons permalink
    October 30, 2009 12:55 pm

    Thank you, Chauncey Mabe, for your comment about the Sarah Palin book.

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