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Ross Gay named National Book Awards Finalist

Ross Gay's “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude” (Pitt Poetry Series/University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015) is a finalist for the 2015 National Book Awards.

Winners will be announced at a ceremony in New York on November 18th.

Congratulations, Ross!

Read more:
Whale Chaser Paperback Release

Chicago Review Press has just released Tony Ardizzone's novel, The Whale Chaser, in paperback, just in time for summer reading lists. It is a novel about leaving the midwest behind for a new start in the Pacific Northwest, and learning how to put the scattered pieces of one's life back together in a way that makes sense. As one reviewer writes: "Heartbreaking yet compassionate, his novel takes the reader on a journey toward acceptance and the rightness of the natural universe. The Whale Chaser encompasses but ultimately transcends a coming-of-age novel, a love story, and 1960s period fiction in its exploration of the human experience, of fate and free will, of learning when to let go."

Now available in paperback:
Upadhyay Short-Listed for Open Award

Samrat Upadhyay, Martha C. Kraft Professor of Humanities, is one of the many PEN Literary Award finalists announced April 16 for his novel The City Son.

Among the other finalists for prizes in nine different categories were Cynthia Bond, whose debut novel, “Ruby” was an Oprah Book Club pick; poet Claudia Rankine, whose “Citizen: An American Lyric” nabbed a National Book Critics Circle Award last month; Leslie Jamison for her essay collection, “The Empathy Exams”; and S.C. Gwynne for “Rebel Yell,” his biography of Civil War general Stonewall Jackson.

Most of the winners will be announced on May 13, and the awards will be presented at a ceremony in New York on June 8. This year PEN is giving 19 awards, fellowships, grants and prizes equaling almost $150,000. PEN's Open Book Award, for which Uphadyay is under consideration, recognizes "an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2014." This year's finalists, in addition to Upadhyay and Rankine are: Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman; Teju Cole, Every Day is for the Thief; and Roxanne Gay, An Untamed State.
Ross Gay Awarded Radcliffe Fellowship

Ross Gay has been selected for a Fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University for the 2015-16 academic year. Previous winners have included: Junot Diaz, Geraldine Brooks, and Natasha Trethewey. This is a significant and well-deserved honor, as well as an extraordinary opportunity for Ross. Congratulations!
Coming this fall...

Reaktion Press has begun advertising Alyce Miller’s contribution to their Animal series, Skunk, available for pre-order in advance of a November release date. Animal is a pioneering series from Reaktion Books. The first of its kind to explore the historical significance and impact on humans of a wide range of animals, each book in the series takes a different animal and examines its role in history around the world. The importance of mythology, religion and science are described as is the history of food, the trade in animals and their products, pets, exhibition, film and photography, and their roles in the artistic and literary imagination. This series has rapidly become a touchstone resource for scholars and the general public interested in animal studies. Skunk joins a crowded menagerie of fascinating beasts and fascinated scholars.

Read more about Skunk (including ordering information) here:
Miller Awarded Gilchrist Prize

Alyce Miller has been named the inaugural winner of the Ellen Gilchrist Prize in Short Fiction for her book Sweet Love (China Grove Press, 2015). See the announcement here:

The Prize is named for Ellen Gilchrist, 1984 National Book Award Winner for Victory Over Japan, recognized as one of the premier writers of short stories in American literature.
Unabashed Gratitude

Brighten your day. Brighten your bookshelves. Ross Gay has published another collection of poems.

“ . . . this is as delicate/as we can be/in this life/practicing/like this . . . ”

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude is a sustained meditation on that which goes away—loved ones, the seasons, the earth as we know it—that tries to find solace in the processes of the garden and the orchard. That is, this is a book that studies the wisdom of the garden and orchard, those places where all—death, sorrow, loss—is converted into what might, with patience, nourish us.

Thank you, Ross.

Since its inception in 1967, the Pitt Poetry Series has been a vehicle for America’s finest contemporary poets. The series list includes Poet Laureate Billy Collins, Toi Derricotte, Denise Duhamel, Lynn Emanuel, Bob Hicok, Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Ted Kooser, Larry Levis, Sharon Olds, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, Virgil Suárez, Afaa Michael Weaver, David Wojahn, Dean Young, and many others.

Throughout its history, the Pitt Poetry Series has provided a voice for the diversity that is American poetry, representing poets from many backgrounds without allegiance to any one school or style.
Matejka 2014 Lannan Fellow

"Where there's smoke, there's fire."

And the author of The Big Smoke remains on fire. Last week, Adrian Matejka was a finalist for the 2014 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award in Poetry (kudos to Amaud Jamal Johnson who won for his collection, Darktown Follies). This week, he raised the bar again, when he received the 2014 Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry:

Lannan Foundation is a family foundation dedicated to cultural freedom, diversity and creativity through projects which support exceptional contemporary artists and writers, as well as inspired Native activists in rural indigenous communities.

The Foundation recognizes the profound and often unquantifiable value of the creative process and is willing to take risks and make substantial investments in ambitious and experimental thinking.

The Foundation also gives awards and fellowships to writers of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and in the area of cultural freedom. Awards recognize individuals for extraordinary work in their fields.
Upadhyay's latest novel, The City Son, "not for the faint of heart"

Samrat Upadhyay's latest novel, The City Son, has just been released by independent New York publisher, Soho Press, and is already garnering significant attention. The Wall Street Journal review notes "There's an eerie element of black magic in Didi's Svengali-like manipulation that evokes the domestic horror novels of Shirley Jackson. This superb book stages an intensely powerful showdown.”

“The Big Smoke” short-listed for Pulitzer

Adrian Matejka’s The Big Smoke earned yet another significant accolade last week, when it was announced as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, one of America’s foremost literary awards. A distinguished three-person panel (this year’s panel consisted of a poet, an editor, and a critic) select, each year, three books of poetry, from whom the 18-person Pulitzer Board selects one as the annual award recipient; to have emerged as one of only three finalists from the hundreds of nominated books is a tremendous honor. You can read an interview about the process with one of this year’s selectors here.

In a recent interview, Adrian said of the recent honors garnered by The Big Smoke: “These recognitions are wonderful affirmations for ‘The Big Smoke’ and Jack Johnson’s story . . . in many ways, each of those accolades points back to Johnson, as it should, since I wrote the book trying to bring his story into the contemporary dialogue of race and politics. It’s humbling and extraordinary at the same time.” Read the full interview here.

There are times for humility and times for justifiable pride; this is one of the latter times, and all of us at Indiana offer our heartfelt congratulations to Adrian for his achievement.