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text 2018-06-06 15:46
The Fatness wins a second award!
The Fatness - Mark A. Rayner

NEW YORK, NY – On June 3rd, New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons announced The Fatness won in the humor category of the annual IndieReader Discovery Awards (IRDAs). The announcement was made at BookExpo America (BEA), a major publishing trade show.

 

This is the second literary award the satirical novel has garnered! The Fatness won a silver International Book Publishing Association (IBPA) Benjamin Franklin award for humor in April this year.

 

“The books that won the IRDAs this year are not just great indie books; they are great books, period. We hope that our efforts via the IRDAs ensure that they receive attention from the people who matter most. Potential readers,” said Amy Edelman, founder of IndieReader.

IRDA winner

 

Judges for the awards included notable publishers, agents, publicists and bloggers. The Fatness received the following verdict from IndieReader’s reviewers: “The Fatness is a story of socialism gone wrong, set amid a plausible backdrop with witty characters who will steal your heart and snag your cheeseburger, if you’re not careful.”

 

I’d like to thank the professionals who helped me put the book together. The incredible talents of my editor, Cal Chayce of Wording.ca, the fabulous cover design of Taryn Dufault and the exact proofing of Pauline Nolet all contributed to the book’s success. And don’t forget all my beta readers, friends and family who also helped me shape The Fatness into something approaching good shape. You can read about them in the acknowledgements of the novel.

 

And of course, you should get yourself a copy! You can buy it here.

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text 2018-05-07 16:00
It's a major award!
The Fatness - Mark A. Rayner

Actually, it's pretty cool. The Fatness won a Silver in the humor category of the 30th annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award™

 

These awards aren’t well-known generally, but they’re quite prestigious and valuable indicators of quality. The Independent Book Publishing Association (IBPA) has more than 3,000 members, and is the largest publishing trade association in the U.S. This year’s contest had 1,500 entries.

 

Full story here, including my thanks to everyone who worked on the book. Buy the book at Amazon!

 

IBPA award

 

 

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text 2016-10-13 14:29
And the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature goes to . . .

The Nobel Committee just announced that the 2016 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature is Bob Dylan.

 

To be honest I'm still wrapping my head around the news. I know that he has been mooted as a potential awardee for years, but most people have dismissed it as unlikely and even unwarranted, or that he would receive the Nobel Peace Prize rather than the literature award. Yet now it has happened. Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate.

 

I think this is definitely going to be a topic of discussion for a long while. Count me among those who think he is deserving of the award, but it definitely is a path-breaking decision. As far as I know, they have never given it to a person whose best-known writing is song lyrics. That certainly opens up the pool of future potential awardees.

 

As deserving as it is, though, I also can't help but feel a little bad for the other Americans who have been mentioned as potential laureates. I read recently that every year Philip Roth trudges to his agent's office and waits by the phone in anticipation of the announcement; if that is rue, then I can only wonder at his reaction to the news. Because Dylan's award means that it will be probably be awhile before another American wins it, as it's been twenty-three years since they last gave it to one. At least now Roth can sleep in on the announcement day, though he may have difficulty doing so since it's unlikely now that he will ever become a Nobel Laureate. Or maybe he's secretly working on a cure to the common cold, because at this point if he still wants one his best bet is to chase after one of the science prizes.

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text 2016-10-06 16:10
And speaking of literary awards . . .

. . . the finalists for the National Book Awards were just announced.

 

I have read exactly none of the books on the list, but from what I've read about them it seems to be a good selection, and I am going to have to add a couple of the Nonfiction titles to my towering TBR stack.

 

I do have a complaint, though, and it's a biggie: WHAT THE HELL IS JOHN LEWIS'S MARCH DOING IN THE YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE CATEGORY?!?!?

 

I'm sorry, but this angers me for a number of reasons. It seems like a total diss of what is a serious memoir by a civil rights pioneer. It should be in Nonfiction, not fobbed off in a "kids" category just because it happens to be in in graphic novel form. Or are all graphic novels to be regarded as "kiddie lit" just because they include artwork drawings?

 

Seriously, National Book Foundation, you people are real assholes.

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text 2016-10-06 13:57
Some thoughts on the Nobel Prize in Literature

I teach for a living, and the place where I teach runs on a semester cycle, so I tend to have a fall/spring orientation in a lot of ways. One of the ways it manifests itself is that each year I get invested in two major sets of awards. In the spring its the Pulitzers, which to me are a signpost of all that is great and good (and sometimes not) in American writing, particularly (for me) in the history, biography, and general nonfiction categories.

 

It's fall, though, which means it's time for the Nobels.

 

Right now the Nobel Committee is announcing the science awards. I love those awards, as I feel as though they give us an opportunity for a few days every year to discover all of the amazing ways in which we humans are expanding our knowledge and understanding of our world. Reading Marc Raboy's recent biography of Guglielmo Marconi (Nobel laureate in physics, 1909) also helped me to realize that they also recognize discoveries that shape or will shape our lives, though this is probably more evident in with the Medicine award than the other science ones. On Friday they will announce the Nobel Peace Prize, which may be the biggest touchstone we have about our values and progress as a civilization.

 

Then next week they will announce the Nobel Prize in Literature, which is easily the biggest prize there is in all of writing. I like that they give it to an author for their entire body of literature, rather than just one work like most literary awards, and they've given it to a lot of great writers over the years (though the list of writers who never received one -- Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Émile Zola, Jorge Luis Borges, Chinua Achebe -- is even more illustrious). Lately, though, I greet the news of the award with a puzzled, "Who?", because they are some internationally-recognized author whose name somehow never gets mentioned in the media.

 

At least that was how I thought of it until I read this article about the odds of who might win it this year. At about the midway point one of those epiphanies-that-should-have-been-obvious-long-ago struck me, which that I am an American who knows diddley-squat about world literature. Yes, I can rattle off the names of some great American writers (Philip Roth, Dom DeLillo, Joyce Carol Oates) and I can also identify a few prominent foreign ones as well -- Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Clive James, Haruki Murakami.

 

Notice anything that these writers have in common? If your answer is that they all write in English, you're absolutely correct (and yes, I know Murakami writes in Japanese, but his books get enormous play in the U.S. when they are released in translation). The reality is that my literary scope has some big damn blinders on it. Take the four authors identified in the article as having the best odds of winning the Prize this year: Adonis, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Jon Fosse, and Ko Un. Have you even heard of these four before this moment, let alone read any of their works? If the answer is yes, then you have my respect, but I suspect for most of us the answer is no.

This is when my appreciation increased for the challenge they have in awarding the prize. How do you recognize the best writers in all of world literature? Think of the scope: to do so requires knowing the contemporary literature of scores of countries, not all of which is translated into English, let alone Swedish. Then their merits have to be assessed relative to each other. Politics of various sorts undoubtedly comes into play, which if nothing else has to be a factor for the Literature prize to maintain the stature it possesses. And then they give out one award. One. Per year. Considering all of that, I should be impressed that I recognize any of the writers on the list of recent laureates.

 

All of this is not to say that I forgive the committee for their sins. To this day they have an understandable bias in favor of Scandinavian literature that they seem unwilling to overcome (and yet in spite of that the one Scandinavian author we would all be able to recognize -- Stieg Larsson -- never received one) and they often favor writers as much for their political leanings as for their works. But perhaps in the years to come I will spend less time complaining about the "obscurity" of the writer to whom they have the award and more time instead searching out some of their works so as to broaden myself. It really is what makes literary awards worth following.

 

Still, it would be awesome if Thomas Pynchon ever won it.

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