Tag Archives: Novels

The National Book Awards Longlists Have Been Announced For 2017

Earlier this week, the National Book Foundation announced the poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and young people’s literature longlists for the 2017 National Book Awards.

Since 1950, the National Book Awards and the National Book Foundation have made it their mission to “celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.” As a nonprofit organization, the National Book Foundation hopes to “raise the cultural appreciation of great writing” through these annual awards.

Each year a panel of esteemed judges read hundreds of published submissions before assembling a longlist of ten titles for each category. These longlists are then narrowed down to five finalists before a single winner is chosen.

This year’s longlists feature a variety of writers including Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Egan, 2011 National Book Award-winner Jesmyn Ward, and five-time nominee Frank Bidart as well as numerous first-time longlisted authors and debut collections. Women prove to be a dominate force in the categories of Young People’s Literature and Fiction, while the topics of race and politics set the tone for the nonfiction contenders.

The finalists in each category will be announced on Oct. 4. The winners will be announced following a ceremony in New York on Nov. 15.

If you’re looking for some new reading material, click here and check out the longlists for the 2017 National Book Awards!

A Scary Good Read: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus

2016 marks the 200th anniversary of the Haunted Summer; the summer of 1816 that Lord Byron, Claire Clairmont, John Polidori, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later Mary Shelley) spent together at Lake Geneva. The group took refuge from the poor weather one rainy June day in the Villa Diodati. Back then they didn’t have Netflix or the internet to occupy their time, so what better activity for a group of intelligent, creative, bored minds to do than write?

Lord Byron challenged each person in the group to compose a ghost story. Despite Byron and P.B. Shelley being well-established writers of the time, they attempted the challenge with little success. Polidori, Byron’s personal physician, would later write The Vampyre, which was then revisited by Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Mary, however, was struck by inspiration. That haunted night gave birth to one of the most iconic, well-known, thought-provoking tales of all time: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. She was only 18 years old during the Haunted Summer and 20 when her novel was published in 1818.

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The first edition left the author anonymous causing many people to attribute the novel to Mary’s father, William Godwin, an influential philosopher of the time (and whose ideals influenced the plot of the novel). The second edition, published in 1822, gave Mary the credit she deserved. Several more editions were published both during and after her lifetime.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to list all the adaptations and creations that Frankenstein has influenced for the past 200 years. Literature, film, plays, television, and dance are just a few mediums by which people have explored the beloved story. In his book, The Detached Retina: Aspects of SF and Fantasy, writer and anthology editor Brian Aldiss supports the claim that Frankenstein is a progenitor of the science fiction genre and counts the novel as an ancestor of future works by the famous science fiction writer, H.G. Wells.

From a literary standpoint, the structure, flow, characterization, plot, and themes of this novel are so complex and interesting that people are still analyzing it today. Mary Shelley’s talent can be overshadowed by the success of her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the works of the male-dominated canon, but it is important to remember this incredible novel and its importance to literary and world history. So, if you’re looking for a spooky read this Halloween, pick up Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. I promise I’m not tricking you—this book is a real treat!

Written by Jennifer Rohrbach.

“You Must Contribute Brain!”

You haven’t seen the inside of a book in over two months, and you ask yourself, why?!?Summer, that’s why. It is natural human laziness to leave the doors of the University behind and shut down your mental and literary expansion despite your best wishes to conquer that summer reading list (It’s growing in the corner of your room, neglected, cold, and shunned…). But the challenge is to continue to immerse yourself in opportunities of learning, however simple it may be, perhaps with adult literature or a great classic.

So here’s what I’ve learned forcing myself to read this summer.

The OBVIOUS benefits of using your literary brain over the summer:

1. You will be able to recall the things you’ve spent the entire semester stressing over!
–Remember how many times you re-read “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge just so you could get to the bottom of what was really going on? Yeah, reading more literature over the summer enables you to bring that trained cognitive thought process back to the surface without as much work, thus making you smarter!

2. Your conversations will have more depth than the obvious focus on the weather and tanning!
–All of sudden you come to a revelation and BOOM! you’ve gotta talk about The Parable of the Cave from The Republik by Plato, and how you’ve crawled out and can stand in the glory of the sun! So much more interesting than the typical tan line conversation, and surely a lot less embarrassing if your tan lines aren’t even that impressive…it happens.

3. You’ll be able to see all of the neat little references in the newest summer blockbusters!
–That’s right, they’re everywhere. Not everyone gets them, but you will!

4. It will disconnect you from the eternal connection that is social media.
–You, a book, maybe some coffee and plenty of time to live within the narrative of something great is all you really need.

5. Your imagination will grow exponentially!
–LOOK AT HOW SUDDENLY CREATIVE YOU ARE!

I’ve been indulging in a few novels that have surely made an impression on my summer. If anyone is looking to begin their summer reading, I would highly suggest Tom Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, or Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield! Remember, just because the sun is out and the sky is blue doesn’t mean your literature doesn’t want you too! So, READ ON!

Kimberlee Roberts

*Title credit to Daniel Robinson, Smart Barker