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Our Three Lukas Prize Shortlist Authors

Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard have announced The J. Anthony Lukas Prizes shortlist, honoring “the best in American nonfiction writing” in 2017 on history and topics of American political or social concern. The judges selected three of our 2017 titles as finalists in two of the three categories, from more than 350 submissions:

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Anthony Lukas Book Prize ($10,000) AMERICAN WOLF by Nate Blakeslee (Crown Publishing Group) THE FAR AWAY BROTHERS by Lauren Markham (Crown Publishing Group) Mark Lynton History Prize ($10,000) STALIN by Stephen Kotkin (Penguin Press)      

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)    

Featured Author Event: Zadie Smith (NYC)

From Zadie Smith, one of the most beloved authors of her generation, comes a new collection of essays.  Enjoy an evening with Zadie at Barnes & Noble Upper West Side on February 8 at 7:00 pm  as she discusses and reads from FEEL FREE (Penguin Press),  followed by an audience Q&A and book signing. Arranged into five sections–In the World, In the Audience, In the Gallery, On the Bookshelf, and Feel Free–this new collection poses questions we immediately recognize.  

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Gathering in one place for the first time previously unpublished work, as well as already classic essays, such as, “Joy,” and, “Find Your Beach,” FEEL FREE offers a survey of important recent events in culture and politics, as well as Smith’s own life. Equally at home in the world of good books and bad politics, Brooklyn-born rappers and the work of Swiss novelists, she is by turns wry, heartfelt, indignant, and incisive–and never any less than perfect company. “Lest you forget that Zadie Smith’s output encompasses several masterful careers, please allow FEEL FREE, her new collection of essays, to remind you…Incisive and often wry…these pieces are as relevant as can be. They are reminders of how much else there is to ponder in this world, how much else is worth our time, and how lucky we are to have Smith as our guide.” —Vanity Fair  Since Zadie burst spectacularly into view with her debut novel WHITE TEETH almost two decades ago, she has established herself not just as one of the world’s preeminent fiction writers, but also a brilliant and singular essayist. She contributes regularly to The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books on a range of subjects, and each piece of hers is a literary event in its own right.

Chernow, Farrell, Klagsbrun and Sebestyen Nominated for 2018 Plutarch Award

Biographers International Organization (BIO) has nominated ten books as semi-finalists for its 2018 Plutarch Award, the only international literary prize for biography that is chosen by fellow biographers.   Four of the nominees are published by Penguin Random House imprints: 

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  GRANT by Ron Chernow (Penguin Press) RICHARD NIXON: The Life by John Farrell (Doubleday) LIONESS: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel by Francine Klagsbrun (Schocken) LENIN: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror by Victor Sebestyen (Pantheon) View the complete list of nominees here. The Plutarch Award Committee will announce four finalists the week of February 5.   All BIO members will then vote for the winning book, which will be revealed on May 19 at the Ninth Annual BIO Conference in New York.  

Alarcón, Moshfegh, Strout: Finalists for The Story Prize

The three finalists for the 2017 Story Prize, which annually honors authors of outstanding short story collections published in the prior year, are all published by Penguin Random House imprints:  

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  THE KING IS ALWAYS ABOVE THE PEOPLE by Daniel Alarcón (Riverhead Books) HOMESICK FOR ANOTHER WORLD by Ottessa Moshfegh (Penguin Press) ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE by Elizabeth Strout (Random House) The Story Prize, now in its 14th year, announced that these finalists were chosen from 120 submissions representing 93 different publishers or imprints.  Three independent judges – Knopf/Vintage author and poet Susan Minot, critic and author Walton Muyumba, and Library Journal Associate Editor Stephanie Sendaula – will determine the winner, to be revealed at the Story Prize’s annual award event, co-sponsored by the Graduate Creative Writing Program, at The New School in Manhattan on February 28.   The finalists will read from and discuss their work with Larry Dark, director of The Story Prize.  Then Story Prize founder Julie Lindsey will present the 2017 winner with a check for $20,000.  The two runners-up will each receive $5,000.
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Big Night at the Golden Globe Awards for BIG LITTLE LIES and THE HANDMAID’S TALE

Hit television series based on Liane Moriarty’s BIG LITTLE LIES (Berkley) and Margaret Atwood’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE (Anchor) took home a combined 6 awards at the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards, Sunday night, January 7, in Los Angeles.  

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Big Little Lies, airing on HBO, won in four categories: Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television; Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, (Nicole Kidman); Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Laura Dern); and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Alexander Skarsgard). The Handmaid’s Tale, airing on Hulu, won Best Television Series, Drama; and Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Drama (Elisabeth Moss). In addition, Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy went to Aziz Ansari for the Netflix series, Master of None. Ansari is the author of MODERN ROMANCE (Penguin Press).

Friday Reads: Mary Oliver

There is so much to praise about Mary Oliver: Her wisdom, her humility, her love of the world (especially dogs and birds) while addressing suffering – both personal and planetary. Her books are exhilarating, born of faith, intellect and attention.  Just think if she hadn’t put her writing into the world, if she’d kept her rare gift to herself?  And yet we at Penguin Random House are fortunate enough to publish Mary Oliver, with the latest offering, DEVOTIONS, making its way into the hands of readers, including those who once believed they didn’t like poetry.

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  THIS MORNING This morning the redbirds’ eggs have hatched and already the chicks are chirping for food. They don’t know where it’s coming from, they just keep shouting, “More! More!” As to anything else, they haven’t had a single thought. Their eyes haven’t yet opened, they know nothing about the sky that’s waiting. Or the thousands, the millions of trees. They don’t even know they have wings. And just like that, like a simple neighborhood event, a miracle is taking place. – Mary Oliver   Devotions by Mary OliverDEVOTIONS: THE SELECTED POEMS OF MARY OLIVER Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver presents a personal selection of her best work in this definitive collection spanning more than five decades of her esteemed literary career.     Felicity by Mary OliverFELICITY: POEMS “If I have any secret stash of poems, anywhere, it might be about love, not anger,” Mary Oliver once said in an interview. Finally, in this stunning new collection, Felicity, we can immerse ourselves in Oliver’s love poems.     Upstream by Mary OliverUPSTREAM: SELECTED ESSAYS A collection of essays from the beloved Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestseller Mary Oliver: “In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.”   Blue Horses by Mary OliverBLUE HORSES: POEMS In this stunning collection of poems, Mary Oliver returns to the imagery that has defined her life’s work, describing with wonder both the everyday and the unaffected beauty of nature. Herons, sparrows, owls, and kingfishers flit across the page in meditations on love, artistry, and impermanence.   Why I Wake Early by Mary OliverWHY I WAKE EARLY: NEW POEMS The volume includes poems on crickets, toads, trout lilies, black snakes, goldenrod, bears, greeting the morning, watching the deer and, finally, lingering in happiness.     Thirst by Mary OliverTHIRST: POEMS Thirst introduces two new directions in the poet’s work. Grappling with grief at the death of her beloved partner of over forty years, she strives to experience sorrow as a path to spiritual progress, grief as part of loving and not its end. And within these pages she chronicles for the first time her discovery of faith, without abandoning the love of the physical world that has been a hallmark of her work.   Dog Songs by Mary OliverDOG SONGS: POEMS Threaded throughout Mary Oliver’s many collections, there have always been dogs. Beloved by her readers, special to the poet’s own heart, the dog poems offer a special window into Mary Oliver’s universe.     Owls and Other Fantasies by Mary OliverOWLS AND OTHER FANTASIES: POEMS AND ESSAYS Within these pages Mary Oliver collects twenty-six of her poems about the birds that have been such an important part of her life-hawks, hummingbirds, and herons; kingfishers, catbirds, and crows; swans, swallows and, of course, the snowy owl, among a dozen others-including ten poems that have never before been collected.   Blue Iris by Mary OliverBLUE IRIS: POEMS AND ESSAYS A rich collection of ten poems, two essays, and two dozen of Mary Oliver’s classic works on flowers, trees, and plants of all sorts, elegantly illustrated, Blue Iris is the essential companion to Owls and Other Fantasies.     For more on these and related titles visit Mary Oliver    

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4 PRH Fiction Authors are NBF 2017 “5 Under 35” Honorees

We are delighted with The National Book Foundation’s announcement of this year’s “5 Under 35” honorees, their annual selection of debut fiction writers under the age of 35 whose work “promises to leave a lasting impression on the literary landscape.”  Penguin Random House imprints publish four of the all-women group of honoree authors: 

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Lesley Nneka Arimah,   WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY: Stories (Riverhead Books) Zinzi Clemmons,   WHAT WE LOSE  (Viking) Leopoldine Core,   WHEN WATCHED: Stories  (Penguin Press) Weike Wang,   CHEMISTRY (Knopf) Warm congratulations to our 5 Under 35 honorees, their editors and publishers. These authors will be celebrated at a ceremony in Manhattan on November 13, two days before this year’s National Book Awards dinner.  Each honoree will receive a $1,000 prize. They represent writers from around the world, under the age of 35, who have published their first and only book of fiction—either a short story collection or a novel—within the last five years.  Each author was selected by a National Book Award Winner, Finalist, or writer previously recognized by the 5 Under 35 program. Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, said, “For the last twelve years, the National Book Foundation has been committed to highlighting the exceptional talent of emerging writers and to amplifying new voices.  At a moment in which we are having the necessary conversations surrounding the underrepresentation of female voices, it’s a thrill to see this list of tremendous women chosen organically by our selectors.” For more information and a complete list of the 2017 5 Under 35 honorees, click here.

How Celeste Ng Writes Novels That Reach Our Inner Selves

Penguin Press author Celeste Ng made an indelible impression on readers when her debut novel, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, was published in 2014. It won the APLA Alex Award for Fiction and was a New York Times Book Review “Editors Choice.”  A Times reviewer noted:  “If we know this story, we haven’t seen it yet in American fiction, not until now …”  This week marks the arrival of Celeste’s second book, LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE, which explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following rules can avert disaster. 

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Fellow Penguin Random House author Jodi Picoult: “I read LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE in a single, breathless sitting. With brilliance and beauty, Celeste Ng dissects a microcosm of American society just when we need to see it beneath the microscope: how do questions of race stack up against the comfort of privilege, and what role does that play in parenting?  Is motherhood a bond forged by blood, or by love?  And perhaps most importantly:  do the faults of our past determine what we deserve in the future?  Be ready to be wowed by Ng’s writing — and unsettled by the mirror held up to one’s own beliefs.” In this “Meet Our Author” interview, Celeste offers a window into her daily routines, the inspirations behind her stories, and how Penguin Press has impacted her writing career. How would you describe your writing regimen and routines? Right now, my writing time is scheduled around my son: when he’s at school, I’m writing. That means I’m basically at my desk (or reading or doing related work) from 9:00 until 3:00. I usually start off the day by reading over what I wrote the day before; usually I can see how to take it further, or I’m horrified and frantically get to work rewriting. As needed, I take breaks to visit the library, do research, or read other people’s books—there are few things more inspiring than seeing brilliant work fellow writers are doing. And when I get really stuck, I go for a walk: that always seems to jar things loose. Of course, throughout all this, there’s a healthy dose of Twitter for work breaks. Where do inspirations for your book characters and storylines come from? I’ve realized I approach writing as a psychological exercise: I’m always asking, “Why would someone do that?” If you pay attention, people are always doing things that don’t make logical sense, whether it’s as large as deciding to walk across the country or as small as picking a fight with someone they love. But there’s always a reason people do what they do. I’m interested in that emotional logic, what shapes a person and how that drives him or her to act in very specific ways. So my stories usually start with something I don’t understand—a character’s inexplicable action, or an unexpected reaction to something—and the story is my way of trying to figure out why this happened. What elements of LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE do you think will resonate most strongly with readers? Motherhood is a big theme in the novel, and one I think a lot of readers will relate to. There are mothers everywhere in this book—the mothers you’re born to, the mothers you choose, the mothers circumstances give you. The novel also raises questions about art: who gets to make it and what role does it play in a life? And of course many readers will probably flash back to their teen years as they watch Pearl and the Richardson children try to navigate their families, friendships, and first loves. In what ways has Penguin Press impacted your writing career? I’m unbelievably lucky to have landed at Penguin Press the first time, and am thrilled to be with them for a second book! Everyone there has been fantastic to work with, but several deserve special mention: Virginia Smith Younce made my novel better and stronger through her insightful editing. Juliana Kiyan’s deep understanding of my work and smart, tireless advocacy have gotten my books in the hands of people who championed it. The marketing team, Matt Boyd, Caitlin O’Shaughnessy, and Grace Fisher, have been both creative and enthusiastic in their promotion, and, of course, Ann Godoff and Scott Moyers’ leadership makes it all possible. Put simply, it’s meant a lot to be at an imprint that really gets my work and knows how to help it find its audience. I’m so proud to be with Penguin Press and to get to work with everyone at Penguin. Honestly, I can’t imagine a better publishing experience.

THE FIRST LOVE STORY Inspires New Ice Cream Flavor: Original Cin

the first love storyPenguin Press has partnered with Ample Hills Creamery to make a new flavor of ice cream – Original Cin – inspired by Bruce Feiler’s new book, THE FIRST LOVE STORY: Adam, Eve, and Us, on sale today, Tuesday, March 21.  Ample Hills is inviting customers to choose their own story, with a custom five-pack of ice cream pints. Original Cin –  cinnamon ice cream with housemade fig newtons – is one of the new flavors.  

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From New York Times columnist, PBS host and bestselling author of Walking the Bible and Abraham, THE FIRST LOVE STORY is a revelatory journey across four continents and 4,000 years exploring how Adam and Eve introduced the idea of love into the world, and how they continue to shape our deepest feelings about relationships, family, and togetherness.  In this fresh retelling of their story, Feiler travels from the Garden of Eden in Iraq to the Sistine Chapel in Rome, from John Milton’s London to Mae West’s Hollywood, discovering how Adam and Eve should be hailed as exemplars of a long-term, healthy, resilient relationship. At a time of discord and fear over the strength of our social fabric, Feiler shows how history’s first couple can again be role models for unity, forgiveness, and love.