Penguin Books

Our 5 L.A. Times Book Prize Winners

The 39th annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes were announced at the L.A. Times Festival of Books this past weekend at the University of Southern California, and among the award winners for books published in 2017 were five titles from Penguin Random House imprints in the following categories:

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Fiction Mohsin Hamid, EXIT WEST (Riverhead Books) Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction Jenny Zhang, SOUR HEART (Lenny / Random House) The Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose Winner Benjamin Taylor, THE HUE AND CRY AT OUR HOUSE: A Year Remembered (Penguin Books) Current Interest Nancy MacLean, DEMOCRACY IN CHAINS: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America (Viking/Penguin) Science & Technology Robert M. Sapolsky, BEHAVE: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst (Penguin Press) Congratulations to our award-winning authors, their editors and publishers. To view the complete list of this year’s L.A. Times Book Prize winners, click here. The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes were first awarded in 1980, with the idea of honoring literary excellence and celebrating the community of readers in Los Angeles. The inspiration of former L.A. Times book editor Art Seidenbaum, those first prizes included awards in four book categories – fiction, history, general nonfiction and poetry.

Featured Author Event: Leila Slimani (Berkeley)

Northern California colleagues take note: author Leila Slimani, winner of the Prix Goncourt in France, will be discussing her novel, THE PERFECT NANNY (Penguin Books), at the new Women Lit program at the Bay Area Book Festival Theater on Sunday, April 8. Translated by Sam Taylor, THE PERFECT NANNY was named one of 2018’s Most Anticipated Books by NPR’s Weekend Edition, Real Simple, The Millions, The Guardian, Bustle, and Book Riot. Join Leila at Peet’s Theater at the Berkeley Repertory, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 p.m., followed by a book signing.

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Building tension with every page, THE PERFECT NANNY is a compulsive, riveting, bravely observed exploration of power, class, race, domesticity, motherhood, and madness—and the American debut of an immensely talented writer. When Myriam decides to return to work as a lawyer after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect nanny for their son and daughter. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite, devoted woman who sings to the children, cleans the family’s chic Paris apartment, stays late without complaint, and hosts enviable kiddie parties. But as the couple and the nanny become more dependent on one another, jealousy, resentment, and suspicions mount, shattering the idyllic tableau. “I think this might be one of the most important books of the year. You can’t unread it. . . . If you’ve ever taken care of a kid, even if, just on a bus, someone has handed you a child for five seconds as they rummage through their purse, this will do something to you. . . . At the end of reading this book, I was so devastated, but I really felt like I was looking at the world through new eyes.” —Barrie Hardymon, NPR’s Weekend Edition Leila Slimani is the first Moroccan (and pregnant) woman to win France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Goncourt, which she won for THE PERFECT NANNY. A journalist and frequent commentator on women’s and human rights, she is French president Emmanuel Macron’s personal representative for the promotion of the French language and culture. Born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1981, she now lives in Paris with her French husband and their two young children.

Our 15 L.A. Times Book Prize Finalists

The Los Angeles Times  has announced the finalists for its 2017 Book Prize Awards, which annually honors outstanding books in 10 categories. Below are our 15 Penguin Random House imprint nominations, and our winners of two of their non-competitive prizes. The winners in the literary categories will revealed on April 20.

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Art Seidenbaum Award For First Fiction THE IDIOT by Elif Batuman (Penguin Books) MY ABSOLUTE DARLING by Gabriel Tallent (Riverhead Books) SOUR HEART by Jenny Zhang (Lenny) Biography GRANT by Ron Chernow (Penguin Press) RICHARD NIXON: THE LIFE by John A. Farrell (Vintage) 2017 Innovator’s Award - Winner WELL-READ BLACK GIRL by Glory Edim (Ballantine Books) 2017 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose - Winner THE HUE AND CRY AT OUR HOUSE: A YEAR REMEMBERED by Benjamin Taylor (Penguin Books) Current Interest WE WERE EIGHT YEARS IN POWER: AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY  by Ta-Nehisi Coates (One World) DEMOCRACY IN CHAINS: THE DEEP HISTORY OF THE RADICAL RIGHT'S STEALTH PLAN FOR AMERICA By Nancy MacLean (Viking) THE FAR AWAY BROTHERS: TWO YOUNG MIGRANTS AND THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN LIFE by Lauren Markham (Crown) Fiction EXIT WEST by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead Books) THE CHANGELING by Victor LaValle (Spiegel & Grau) GHACHAR GHOCHAR Vivek Shanbhag (Penguin Books)

Mystery / Thriller

THE NIGHT OCEAN by Paul La Farge (Penguin Press) Science & Technology BEHAVE: THE BIOLOGY OF HUMANS AT OUR BEST AND WORST by Robert M. Sapolsky (Penguin Press) LIFE 3.0: BEING HUMAN IN THE AGE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE by Max Tegmark (Knopf) Young Adult Literature GENUINE FRAUD by E. Lockhart (Delacorte Press)    

What about the Children? When Parenting, Careers and Class Collide

Leïla Slimani became the first Moroccan woman to win the prestigious French literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, which she received for her novel, THE PERFECT NANNY, a #1 bestseller in France.  Now this Penguin Books Original is an Indie Bestseller in the U.S.  Both a riveting thriller and a literary exploration of issues of class, modern parenting, and feminism, it captures the sometimes overwhelming isolation of raising young children as well as the financial and emotional strain of navigating careers, costly childcare, social pressures, and personal fulfillment.  

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In this “Meet Our Author” interview, Ms. Slimani offers insights into the creation of her book, personal research, plotting process, and style of storytelling. You “give away” the ending in a very shocking, blunt way in the first line of THE PERFECT NANNY. You write, “The baby is dead. It took only a few seconds.” Why did you choose to structure the novel this way? I did not want to write a classical thriller. It’s a specific type of book with its own codes: I did not want the police investigation or the morbid suspense around the likely killing of the children to be the main narrative element. With that time inversion, the reader effectively conducts the investigation himself. The stunning shock of the very first pages is meant to hook the reader and heightens their level of attention. They can then focus on the many different lights I cast on Louise and build their own perspective on what made Louise commit such a hideous act. The book construction “spoils” the ending but creates a very powerful, sometimes uncomfortable tension by placing the reader at the heart of the action. You’ve said that the character of Louise is influenced in part by your experiences observing your own childhood nanny, whose condition was very isolated, with no family of her own, and at times harbored resentment toward your family because of it.  Your portrayal of Louise is sympathetic as often as it is unsettling. What drew you to the idea of writing about a nanny? I wanted to tell my own experience of being a child who was partly raised by a nanny and a mother who entrusted her child with a nanny. I also wanted to explore to tell the living conditions of a modern family. I found the complexity and ambiguity of being a nanny interesting. Nannies are women who raise children who are not their own; they create ties by taking care of them, feeding them, loving them—and then eventually, they must leave them. They live in houses they do not own. They share all the intimacy of a family without ever becoming a true member of that family. On top of that, there are the common cultural and social and economic gaps between nannies and the families that employ them. I wandered a lot in public squares and children playgrounds to effectively observe those nannies at work; they are almost invisible to us and yet they make it possible for us to entertain a working life. I was fascinated by this woman proletariat, and I wanted to some extent shine a light on these forgotten women. Your first novel, Dans le jardin de l’ogre  (IN THE GARDEN OF THE OGRE, forthcoming from Penguin Books), concerns a female sex addict. How do you find your characters? Tolstoy used to say that Anna Karénina was actually living with him and that was she who dictated the book. It sounds crazy but I think it’s true. A character forces their way into your mind and feelings, becoming a real obsession. Everything then turns around them: the story, the environment, the action. The same happened with Adèle, the main character of Dans le jardin de l’ogre.  Following the Dominique Strauss Kahn case (again a true story local to New York City), I wondered, what if a woman had such a sexual addiction? This gave birth to Adèle who then lived with me for some time.

Featured Author Event: Yrsa Daley-Ward

Celebrated poet Yrsa Daley-Ward will appear at The Strand to discuss, read and sign copies of BONE (Penguin Books), her poignant collection of poems about the heart, life, and the inner self.  The event will be held  in The Strand’s Rare Book Room on Tuesday, October 10, 7:00 – 8:00 pm. 

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From navigating the oft competing worlds of religion and desire, to balancing society’s expectations with the raw experience of being a woman in the world; from detailing the experiences of growing up as a first generation black British woman, to working through situations of dependence and abuse; from finding solace in the echoing caverns of depression and loss, to exploring the vulnerability and redemption in falling in love, each of the raw and immediate poems in Daley-Ward’s BONE resonates to the core of what it means to be human. Among the high praise the author and her book have received: [Yrsa Daley-Ward] is at the realm of a new wave of contemporary poets who inspire an unprecedented level of empathy and accessibility through their honest and raw approach. . . . [A] powerful collection of a woman facing tumultuous inner and external battles head on, delivered with a hard-hitting directness, yet with inflections of optimism throughout that are bound to touch readers to their core.” i-D Magazine “Yrsa’s work is like holding the truth in your hands. It sweats and breathes before you. A glorious living thing.” —Florence Welch, of Florence + the Machine   Yrsa Daley-Ward is a writer and poet of mixed West Indian and West African heritage. Born to a Jamaican mother and a Nigerian father, Yrsa was raised by her devout Seventh Day Adventist grandparents in the small town of Chorley in the North of England. She splits her time between London and Los Angeles.
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Penguin Salon Events Mix Books, Art and Activism

penguin salonPenguin Books and Penguin Classics are presenting a series of salon events in partnership with the Kate Werble Gallery in New York to bring people together for dialogue about books, art and activism, while raising funds for organizations relevant to the evenings’ themes. The first event, #RememberResistRediscover: A Gathering, took place on March 20, benefiting the New York Immigration Coalition.

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6-8-17-GalleryMemoir was the theme of the second event, held on June 8 at the Werble Gallery, and supported the work of Immigration Equality, an LGBTQ-focused immigrant rights organization. The featured speakers were Sheila Kohler, author of ONCE WE WERE SISTERS (Penguin Books, January 2017), Ben Taylor, author of THE HUE AND CRY AT OUR HOUSE (Penguin Books, May 2017), and Penguin Classics Executive Editor John Siciliano, editor of THE BOOK OF EMMA REYES (Penguin Books, August 2017). Collectively, they demonstrated and offered insights into diversity in areas of culture and gender. [caption id="attachment_6600" align="alignleft" width="300"]Left to right: Immigration Equality’s Im Senephimmachack; Penguin’s John Siciliano and Elda Rotor; Clément Gaujal Left to right: Immigration Equality’s Im Senephimmachack; Penguin’s John Siciliano and Elda Rotor; Clément Gaujal[/caption] Publishers Weekly  covered the series in its current print edition with this article, Penguin Mixes Art, Books for a Cause. Penguin Director of Publicity Louise Braverman and Penguin Vice President and Marketing Director John Fagan are quoted. “Long before the current administration we had talked about the idea of having some sort of salon series,” said Fagan. “When you think of the breadth of the Penguin list, there’s so many books, there’s such a deep backlist, and there’s so much to talk about.” Since the salons are, Fagan said, rooted in the idea that “people like to get together and talk and exchange ideas,” the hope is to engender conversation while benefitting nonprofits doing important work. “You’re being entertained, you’re talking about books, perhaps you’ll meet an author—and you’ll learn about, well, here’s a group doing this,” Fagan said. “It seemed like the perfect end to the whole package.”

Viking/Penguin Author Karan Mahajan Wins 2017 NYPL’s Young Lions Fiction Award

nypl logoThe New York Public Library held the 2017 Young Lions Fiction Award ceremony in NYC last Thursday (6/1), when Viking/Penguin author Karan Mahajan won for his novel THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BOMBS. This is the latest in a string of accolades for Mahajan, who earlier this year was named one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists,

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received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as the 2017 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.  Last year, Mahajan was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction. [caption id="attachment_6484" align="alignright" width="200"]Karan Mahajan Karan Mahajan[/caption] Congratulations to Karan, and everyone involved with the success of this extraordinary book. Established in 2001, The New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award is a $10,000 prize awarded each spring to a writer age 35 or younger for a novel or a collection of short stories. Each year, five young fiction writers are selected as finalists by a reading committee of Young Lions members, writers, editors, and librarians. A panel of judges selects the winner.

Penguin Books Founder Sir Allen Lane Honored at Exeter St Davids Railway Station

allen lane plaque1The founder of Penguin Books, Sir Allen Lane, is being commemorated with a distinctive “orange plaque” at Exeter St Davids railway station today. The plaque, commissioned by Lane’s daughter, Clare Morpurgo, and designed by Penguin Random House, recognizes his contribution to British publishing and commemorates the location where he

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conceived the iconic sixpenny paperback in 1934.  For the first time, the sixpenny paperback made quality literature accessible to a wide audience, sparking the paperback revolution and the beginning of Penguin Books. allen laneThe unveiling of the plaque is being marked by a special ceremony at the station to celebrate Sir Allen’s life and his extensive contribution to literature in the UK.  Members of Sir Allen’s family including daughters Clare Morpurgo and Christine Teale, Managing Director of Penguin Press, Stefan McGrath, representatives from Great Western Railway, and local charities and community groups are attending. Today Penguin Random House publishers are giving away a specially curated selection of paperback books to celebrate Sir Allen Lane’s legacy. Commenting on the unveiling of the plaque, Ms. Morpurgo said: “It is wonderful to be able to celebrate my father’s contribution to literature in the UK. I know he would be delighted to see how many people have fallen in love with reading since Penguin Books first put quality books into the hands of readers everywhere.  Given Exeter’s integral role in my father’s story, I could not think of a better place for this plaque to stand.” [caption id="attachment_6122" align="alignright" width="270"]Allen Lane Allen Lane[/caption] Tom Weldon, CEO, Penguin Random House UK, added: “Allen Lane was central to the success of Penguin Books and his legacy lives on today. We all still share his passion for publishing iconic books and his ambition of connecting them with readers everywhere. We’re thrilled to celebrate his life and contribution at the very place he first had his inspiration.” GWR Station Manager for Exeter St Davids Debbie Ferris commented: “Reading is often associated with railway stations, and relaxing journeys to the UK’s most renowned destinations. For over 80 years Penguin has inspired its readers to escape, while the railway has turned that fiction into reality. “We are delighted to be able to welcome Sir Allen’s family here today as we celebrate his life and a publishing revolution, which like the railways a hundred years before had a massive, and continuing, impact on public life in Britain.”

Nathaniel Philbrick Wins 2017 George Washington Prize

george washington prizeNathaniel Philbrick has won the George Washington Prize, including an award of $50,000, for his book, VALIANT AMBITION: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution (Viking/Penguin). Now in its 12th year, the George Washington Prize honors its namesake by recognizing the year’s best new books on the nation’s founding era, especially those that engage a broad public audience.

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Conferred by George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Washington College, the award will be presented to Mr. Philbrick on May 25 at a black-tie gala at Mount Vernon. [caption id="attachment_5965" align="alignright" width="173"]Nathaniel Philbrick Nathaniel Philbrick[/caption] “To have Valiant Ambition recognized in this way means a tremendous amount to me, especially given the extraordinary quality of the books produced by the other six finalists,” said Mr. Philbrick. “My heartfelt thanks to the jurors involved in the selection process and to the George Washington Prize’s sponsoring institutions.” VALIANT AMBITION is a surprising account of the middle years of the American Revolution and the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. Philbrick creates a complex, controversial, and dramatic portrait of a people in crisis and of the war that gave birth to a nation. “Our objective in creating the Washington Prize was to stimulate scholarly works that are accessible to the general public,” said Mount Vernon president Curt Viebranz. “This year’s finalists confirm that we are succeeding; Nat Philbrick’s VALIANT AMBITION is at once a detailed and accurate account of the relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold as well as an engaging read.” Established in 2005, the George Washington Prize has honored a dozen leading writers on the Revolutionary era including, Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the hit musical Hamilton. For this year’s prize, a distinguished jury comprised of notable historians David Preston, Kathleen DuVal, and Nick Bunker, selected the finalists from a field of nearly 60 books.

How Can We Help Save the Earth? Paul Hawken Has a Plan in DRAWDOWN

Drawdown book buzz1With Earth Day 2017 almost here, this week’s Igloo Book Buzz selection is Paul Hawken’s DRAWDOWN: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, on sale April 18 from Penguin Books. Mr. Hawken says, “Unquestionably, distress signals are flashing

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throughout nature and society, from drought, sea level rise, and unrelenting increases in temperatures to immigration, conflict, and dislocation. This is not the whole story. “We have endeavored in DRAWDOWN to show that many people are staunchly and unwaveringly on the case. Although carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion and land use have a two-century head start on these solutions, we will take those odds. The build-up of greenhouse gases we experience today occurred in the absence of human understanding; our ancestors were innocent of the damage they were doing. That can tempt us to believe that global warming is something that is happening to us—that we are victims of a fate that was determined by actions that preceded us. If we change the preposition, however, and consider that global warming is happening for us—an atmospheric transformation that inspires us to change and reimagine everything we make and do—we can begin to live in a different world. We take 100 percent responsibility and stop blaming others. We see global warming not as an inevitability but as an invitation to build, innovate, and effect change, a pathway that awakens creativity, compassion, and genius. This is not a liberal agenda, nor is it a conservative one. This is the human agenda.” Drawdown_QuoteCard_8Viking Executive Editor Rick Kot: “When Paul pitched the idea for DRAWDOWN to me several years ago over dinner, I was skeptical. By that point I’d worked with him on three books on environmentalism and activism that had become classics in their field, and there are few writers I enjoy working with as much as I do Paul. For an editor it’s equivalent to being on a vacation to be able to engage in ideas rather than the body and fender jobs that many manuscripts require, and Paul’s ideas always leave me challenged and inspired by the possible future a genuine visionary can imagine. “But a book about ways to reverse global warming? Wouldn’t that be chasing a moving target, given the rapidly changing pace of technology? When I raised that point, he countered by asking me to guess what the biggest factor would be in the carbon reduction effort, and after I ran through the usual suspects (cars, coal, etc.) he told it me was women’s education. That was, granted, a great ‘gotcha!’ but I still was dubious, and for the next year or so we circled around the project, with Paul patiently sending me more and more compelling research that the DRAWDOWN team was compiling. When I presented it to Penguin and the Academic Promotions Department, both saw the potential, and a contract was soon signed. “In the time since we made that deal, climate change has become an issue of even greater concern, not only because of the ever more alarming findings of the effects of global warming, but on the recent actions undertaken by the government to reverse the policies that address it. As several early reviews of DRAWDOWN have noted, the book could not have been published at a better time, as it offers solutions that are practical, imaginative, scalable, and economical. When I first read the manuscript, I was expecting an encyclopedic overview of the latest research in the area. While all that science is definitely a fundamental aspect of the book, it’s so much more than that, as it takes in cultural history, ethnography, botany, design, and many other fields. It’s an engagingly readable book—few writers in this area have Paul’s lyrical touch—and one that surprises on every page. For those of us old enough to remember it, DRAWDOWN will be reminiscent of the epochal Whole Earth Catalog: a window into another world, and a door to lead you there.” Drawdown_QuoteCard_8Media praise for the book has been nothing short of amazing. Outside Magazine calls it a “bold plan to beat back climate change” while Fast Company, who profiled Mr. Hawken for their “World Changing Ideas” column, describes the book as a “blueprint for what comes next if the U.S. government (and the global community) begins to aggressively focus on altering the climate future.” On tour, Paul will give 13 presentations on DRAWDOWN in 10 cities, including Santa Barbara, California where he will be awarded the Environmental Hero Award, presented by actor Jeff Bridges along with the President of Santa Barbara City College.