2014 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction
Marilynne Robinson, one of the greatest novelists of our time, returns to the town of Gilead in an unforgettable story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear, awe, and wonder.
Lila, homeless and alone after years of roaming the countryside, steps inside a small-town Iowa church--the only available shelter from the rain--and ignites a romance and a debate that will reshape her life. She becomes the wife of a minister, John Ames, and begins a new existence while trying to make sense of the life that preceded her newfound security.
Neglected as a toddler, Lila was rescued by Doll, a canny young drifter, and brought up by her in a hardscrabble childhood. Together they crafted a life on the run, living hand to mouth with nothing but their sisterly bond and a ragged blade to protect them. Despite bouts of petty violence and moments of desperation, their shared life was laced with moments of joy and love. When Lila arrives in Gilead, she struggles to reconcile the life of her makeshift family and their days of hardship with the gentle Christian worldview of her husband which paradoxically judges those she loves.
Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Robinson's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Gilead "and "Home," a National Book Award finalist, "Lila" is a moving expression of the mysteries of existence that is destined to become an American classic.
2014 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction
With this volume, Davis presents the age of emancipation as a model for reform and as probably the greatest landmark of willed moral progress in human history. Bringing to a close his staggeringly ambitious, prizewinning trilogy on slavery in Western culture Davis offers original and penetrating insights into what slavery and emancipation meant to Americans. He explores how the Haitian Revolution respectively terrified and inspired white and black Americans, hovering over the antislavery debates like a bloodstained ghost. He offers a surprising analysis of the complex and misunderstood significance the project to move freed slaves back to Africa. He vividly portrays the dehumanizing impact of slavery, as well as the generally unrecognized importance of freed slaves to abolition. Most of all, Davis presents the age of emancipation as a model for reform and as probably the greatest landmark of willed moral progress in human history.
2014 National Book Critics Circle Award - Autobiography
In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast's memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.
When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the "crazy closet"--with predictable results--the tools that had served Roz well through her parents' seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed.
While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies--an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades--the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.
An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, "Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant" will show the full range of Roz Chast's talent as cartoonist and storyteller.
2014 National Book Critics Circle Award - Biography
The definitive biography of America's greatest playwright from the celebrated drama critic of The New Yorker.
2014 National Book Critics Circle Award - Poetry
A provocative meditation on race, Claudia Rankine's long-awaited follow up to her groundbreaking book "Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric"
Claudia Rankine's bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV--everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, "Citizen" is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named "post-race" society.
2014 National Book Critics Circle Award - Criticism
"Out of the Vinyl Deeps," published in 2011, introduced a new generation to the incisive, witty, and merciless voice of Ellen Willis through her pioneering rock music criticism. In the years that followed, Willis's daring insights went beyond popular music, taking on such issues as pornography, religion, feminism, war, and drugs.
"The Essential Ellen Willis" gathers writings that span forty years and are both deeply engaged with the times in which they were first published and yet remain fresh and relevant amid today's seemingly intractable political and cultural battles. Whether addressing the women's movement, sex and abortion, race and class, or war and terrorism, Willis brought to each a distinctive attitude--passionate yet ironic, clear-sighted yet hopeful.
2015 Caldecott Winner
This magical story begins on an island far away where an imaginary friend is born. He patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child, but when he is overlooked time and again, he sets off on an incredible journey to the bustling city, where he finally meets his perfect match and-at long last-is given his special name: Beekle.
New York Times bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Dan Santat combines classic storytelling with breathtaking art, creating an unforgettable tale about friendship, imagination, and the courage to find one's place in the world.
2015 Newbery Winner
Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story's heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.
2015 PNBA AwardIn this beautiful and bittersweet novel set during World War II, Anthony Doerr tells the parallel tales of Marie Laure, a blind girl living in occupied France, and Werner, a young German radio enthusiast in the Hitler Youth program. Doerr's portrayal of Marie Laure's relationship with her father, the locksmith at Paris's Museum of Natural History, is tender and true. Werner's journey across Europe, where he helps ferret out resistors, is unflinching and richly detailed. Through these characters, Doerr encapsulates the great horrors of war. Moreover, he weaves a deeply compelling story of lives torn asunder and united. --Michael
2015 PNBA Award
One of the country's most acclaimed chefs, Renee Erickson is a James-Beard nominated chef and the owner of several Seattle restaurants: The Whale Wins, Boat Street Café, The Walrus and the Carpenter, and Barnacle. This luscious cookbook is perfect for anyone who loves the fresh seasonal food of the Pacific Northwest. Defined by the bounty of the Puget Sound region, as well as by French cuisine, this cookbook is filled with seasonal, personal menus like Renee’s Fourth of July Crab Feast, Wild Foods Dinner, and a fall pickling party. Home cooks will cherish Erickson’s simple yet elegant recipes such as Roasted Chicken with Fried Capers and Preserved Lemons, Harissa-Rubbed Roasted Lamb, and Molasses Spice Cake. Renee Erickson's food, casual style, and appreciation of simple beauty is an inspiration to readers and eaters in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
2015 PNBA Award
After meeting at a boatman's bash on the Snake River, river runners Maddy and Dalt embark on a lifelong love affair. They marry on the banks of the Buffalo Fork, sure they'll live there the rest of their days. Forced by the economics of tourism to leave Wyoming, they start a new adventure, opening their own river business in Ashland, Oregon: Halfmoon Whitewater. They prosper there, leading rafting trips and guiding fishermen into the wilds of Mongolia and Russia. But when Maddy, laid low by dizzy spells, with a mono that isn't quite mono, both discovers she is pregnant and is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, they realize their adventure is just beginning.
Navigating hazards that dwarf any of the rapids they've faced together, Maddy narrates her life with Dalt the way she lives it: undaunted, courageous, in the present tense. Driven by her irresistible voice, full of wit and humor and defiance, "If Not For This" is a love story like no other.
2015 PNBA Award
In a new novel from the best-selling author of "The Hearts of Horses "and "The Jump-Off Creek," a young ranch hand escapes a family tragedy and travels to Hollywood to become a stunt rider. In 1938, nineteen-year-old ranch hand Bud Frazer sets out for Hollywood. His little sister has been gone a couple of years now, his parents are finding ranch work and comfort for their loss where they can, but for Bud, Echol Creek, where he grew up and first learned to ride, is a place he can no longer call home. So he sets his sights on becoming a stunt rider in the movies -- and rubbing shoulders with the great screen cowboys of his youth.
On the long bus ride south, Bud meets a young woman who also harbors dreams of making it in the movies, though not as a starlet but as a writer, a "real" writer. Lily Shaw is bold and outspoken, confident in ways out of proportion with her small frame and bookish looks. But the two strike up an unlikely kinship that will carry them through their tumultuous days in Hollywood -- and, as it happens, for the rest of their lives.
Acutely observed, "Falling from Horses" charts what was to be a glittering year in the movie business through the wide eyes and lofty dreams of two people trying to make their mark on the world, or at least make their way in it. Molly Gloss weaves a remarkable tale of humans and horses, hope and heartbreak, narrated by one of the most winning narrators ever to walk off the page.
2015 PNBA Award
""Miss Rook, I am not an occultist," Jackaby said. "I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world's a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.""A "Kirkus Reviews "Best Teen Book of 2014 Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby's assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it's an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it's a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny. Doctor Who meets Sherlock in a debut novel, the first in a series, brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre. "The rich world of this debut demands sequels." --"Kirkus Reviews, "starred review
2015 PNBA Award
Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava — in all other ways a normal girl — is born with the wings of a bird. In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naive to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the summer solstice celebration. That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo. First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.
2014 National Book Award- Fiction
Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos.
2014 National Book Award Nonfiction
From abroad, we often see China as a caricature: a nation of pragmatic plutocrats and ruthlessly dedicated students destined to rule the global economy—or an addled Goliath, riddled with corruption and on the edge of stagnation. What we don’t see is how both powerful and ordinary people are remaking their lives as their country dramatically changes.
As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In Age of Ambition, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party’s struggle to retain control. He asks probing questions: Why does a government with more success lifting people from poverty than any civilization in history choose to put strict restraints on freedom of expression? Why do millions of young Chinese professionals—fluent in English and devoted to Western pop culture—consider themselves “angry youth,” dedicated to resisting the West’s influence? How are Chinese from all strata finding meaning after two decades of the relentless pursuit of wealth?
Writing with great narrative verve and a keen sense of irony, Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism, in which only one can prevail.
2014 National Book Award - Poetry
Louise Glück is one of the finest American poets at work today. Her Poems 1962–2012 was hailed as “a major event in this country’s literature” in the pages of The New York Times. Every new collection is at once a deepening and a revelation. Faithful and Virtuous Night is no exception.
You enter the world of this spellbinding book through one of its many dreamlike portals, and each time you enter it’s the same place but it has been arranged differently. You were a woman. You were a man. This is a story of adventure, an encounter with the unknown, a knight’s undaunted journey into the kingdom of death; this is a story of the world you’ve always known, that first primer where “on page three a dog appeared, on page five a ball” and every familiar facet has been made to shimmer like the contours of a dream, “the dog float[ing] into the sky to join the ball.” Faithful and Virtuous Night tells a single story but the parts are mutable, the great sweep of its narrative mysterious and fateful, heartbreaking and charged with wonder.
2014 National Book Award-Young People's Literature
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
2014 Man Booker Prize
August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. His life is a daily struggle to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from pitiless beatings. Until he receives a letter that will change him forever.
Moving deftly from the POW camp to contemporary Australia, from the experiences of Dorrigo and his comrades to those of the Japanese guards, this savagely beautiful novel tells a story of love, death, and family, exploring the many forms of good and evil, war and truth, guilt and transcendence, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.
2014 Nobel Prize in Literature -Patrick Modiano
Patrick Modiano, the author of more than twenty books, is one of France’s most admired contemporary novelists. Out of the Dark is a moody, expertly rendered tale of a love affair between two drifters.
The narrator, writing in 1995, looks back thirty years to a time when, having abandoned his studies and selling off old art books to get by, he comes to know Gérard Van Bever and Jacqueline, a young, enigmatic couple who seem to live off roulette winnings. He falls in love with Jacqueline; they run off to England together, where they share a few sad, aimless months, until one day she disappears. Fifteen years later, in Paris, they meet again, a reunion that only recalls the haunting inaccessibility of the past: they spend a few hours together, and the next day, Jacqueline, now married, disappears once again. Almost fifteen years after that, he sees her yet again, this time from a distance he chooses not to bridge. A profoundly affecting novel, Out of the Dark is poignant, strange, delicate, melancholy, and sadly hilarious.
2014 Nobel Prize in Literature -Patrick Modiano
Although originally published separately, Patrick Modiano's three novellas form a single, compelling whole, haunted by the same gauzy sense of place and characters. Modiano draws on his own experiences, blended with the real or invented stories of others, to present a dreamlike autobiography that is also the biography of a place. Orphaned children, mysterious parents, forgotten friends, enigmatic strangers--each appears in this three-part love song to a Paris that no longer exists. In this superb English-language translation of "Afterimage," "Suspended Sentences," and "Flowers of Ruin," Mark Polizzotti captures not only Modiano's distinctive narrative voice but also the matchless grace and spare beauty of his prose.
2014 Printz Award
Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.
An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood? From award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick comes a book about passion and preservation and ultimately an exploration of the bounds of love.
2014 Pulitzer Prize - Fiction
A thrilling and poetic novel -- love, loss, art and crime --what more could you ask for? Donna Tartt, author of The Secret History, once again follows the life of a young man through a series of tragedies and ecstasies; in The Goldfinch Theo finds his life, his hopes, and his fears tied to the fate of a single painting from the Met.
2014 Pulitzer Prize - Poetry
First I had three
apocalyptic visions, each more terrible than the last.
The graves open, and the sea rises to kill us all.
Then the doorbell rang, and I went downstairs and signed for two packages—
—from “This Morning”
Vijay Seshadri’s new poetry is assured and expert, his line as canny as ever. In an array of poetic forms from the rhyming lyric to the philosophical meditation to the prose essay, 3 Sections confronts perplexing divisions of contemporary life—a wayward history, an indeterminate future, and a present condition of wanting to outthink time. This is an extraordinary book, witty and vivacious, by one of America’s best poets.
2014 Pulitzer Prize - Biography
Pulitzer Prize winner Megan Marshall recounts the trailblazing life of Margaret Fuller: Thoreau's first editor, Emerson's close friend, daring war correspondent, tragic heroine. After her untimely death in a shipwreck off Fire Island, the sense and passion of her life's work were eclipsed by scandal. Marshall's inspired narrative brings her back to indelible life.
2014 Pulitzer Prize - History
Frederick Douglass recalled that slaves living along Chesapeake Bay longingly viewed sailing ships as "freedom s swift-winged angels." In 1813 those angels appeared in the bay as British warships coming to punish the Americans for declaring war on the empire. Over many nights, hundreds of slaves paddled out to the warships seeking protection for their families from the ravages of slavery. The runaways pressured the British admirals into becoming liberators. As guides, pilots, sailors, and marines, the former slaves used their intimate knowledge of the countryside to transform the war. They enabled the British to escalate their onshore attacks and to capture and burn Washington, D.C. Tidewater masters had long dreaded their slaves as "an internal enemy." By mobilizing that enemy, the war ignited the deepest fears of Chesapeake slaveholders. It also alienated Virginians from a national government that had neglected their defense. Instead they turned south, their interests aligning more and more with their section. In 1820 Thomas Jefferson observed of sectionalism: "Like a firebell in the night it] awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once the knell of the union." The notes of alarm in Jefferson's comment speak of the fear aroused by the recent crisis over slavery in his home state. His vision of a cataclysm to come proved prescient. Jefferson's startling observation registered a turn in the nation s course, a pivot from the national purpose of the founding toward the threat of disunion. Drawn from new sources, Alan Taylor's riveting narrative re-creates the events that inspired black Virginians, haunted slaveholders, and set the nation on a new and dangerous course."
2014 Pulitzer Prize - General Nonfiction
The riveting true story of a small town ravaged by industrial pollution, Toms River melds hard-hitting investigative reporting, a fascinating scientific detective story, and an unforgettable cast of characters into a sweeping narrative in the tradition of A Civil Action, The Emperor of All Maladies, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.