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Book News: Lynn Coady Takes Canada's Top Literary Honor

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Lynn Coady won Canada's most prestigious literary award, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, for her short-story collection Hellgoing.(You know, in case Canadian short story writers haven't had a good enough year.) The jury — writers Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Lethem and Esi Edugyan — said the eight short stories in Hellgoingare "magically united by Coady's vivid and iconoclastic language, which brims with keen and sympathetic wit." In her acceptance speech, Coady said, "It makes me proud not just to be a Canadian writer, but to be a Canadian, to live in a country where we treat our writers like movie stars." She said that when she first began writing, the Canadian short story writer and Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro was her inspiration: "Now when I look back, I think it was insane for a young woman to decide to do that, a risk. But I think it was because of Alice Munro that I felt like, 'This is something a woman can do in Canada, or a writer can do.' " You can read Coady's short story "Clear Skies" here.
  • Nearly 100 U.K. publishers folded last year because of "deep retail discounts and new digital business models" in the book business, The Guardianreports. It adds, "Niche academic and educational publishers are particularly vulnerable, because their model is being undermined by digital piracy and online secondhand book sales on sites such as Amazon Marketplace."
  • The Washington Times has ended Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's weekly column, following accusations that he plagiarized parts of a column, speeches and his recent book. The Times writes that the decision was mutual and quotes editor John Solomon as saying, "We expect our columnists to submit original work and to properly attribute material, and we appreciate that the senator and his staff have taken responsibility for an oversight in one column."
  • New York Timesbook critic Dwight Garner considers The Frackers, by Gregory Zuckerman: "How good does nonfiction writing have to be? It's a complicated question; there are so many variables. One answer, though, is: better than this."
  • For The Paris Review,John Freeman writes about interviewing authors who are natural interrogators: "[David Foster] Wallace ... seemed to think in the interrogative mode. He was tall and slightly sweaty, looking like he had just come from a run. But he seemed determined not to intimidate. He was like a big cat pulling out his claws, one question at a time. See, look, I'm not going to be difficult."
  • Margaret Atwood declines requests for book blurbs in rhyme:
  • "In my youth," said Ms. Atwood, "I blurbed with the best;
    I practically worked with a stencil!
    I strewed quotes about with the greatest largesse,
    And the phrases flowed swift from my pencil.

    Intelligent, lucid, accomplished, supreme,
    Magnificent, touching but rough,
    And lucent and lyrical, plangent, a dream,
    Vital, muscular, elegant, tough!

    But now I am aging; my brain is all shrunk,
    And my adjective store is depleted;
    My hair's getting stringy, I walk as though drunk;
    As a quotester I'm nigh-on defeated."

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.