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Book News: What Are The World's Best New Novels? Libraries Weigh In

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

  • The IMPAC Dublin Award — the Dublin-based literary award that asks libraries around the globe to nominate the best new works of fiction — named 10 finalists, with half the books on the list having been translated from another language. Finalists for the €100,000 (around $138,000) prize are a mix of the well-known and obscure and were nominated by "110 library systems in 39 countries world wide." The list includes The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker, translated from Dutch; A Death in the Family by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated from Norwegian; and Marie NDiaye's Three Strong Women, translated from French. Two books translated from Spanish are Traveler of the Century by the Argentinean author Andrés Neuman and The Sound of Things Falling by Colombian writer Juan Gabriel Vásquez. Also on the list was The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan of Ireland, The Light of Amsterdam by David Park of Northern Ireland, Absolution by American author Patrick Flanery, The Garden of Evening Mists by Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng, and Questions of Travel by Sri Lankan-Australian author Michelle De Kretser. Dublin's Deputy Lord Mayor Councilor Henry Upton said at the announcement, "This is a list of high quality literature that includes five novels in translation — that is the beauty of this award — readers around the world will find authors both familiar and new on what is a truly international shortlist."
  • Mary Cheever, author and wife of legendary writer John Cheever, died Monday at age 95. The New York Times reports, "They stayed married even as John Cheever became an alcoholic and had affairs with men and women — and often wrote about it all, sometimes indirectly in his fiction, sometimes directly in his journals and letters. In 1975, Mary Cheever drove him home from a treatment center on the day he stopped drinking permanently. In the last year of his life, she cared for him as he was dying of cancer."
  • Ian McEwan's new book The Children Act will be published in the U.S. on Sept. 9 by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday. The novel will explore the lives of conjoined twins, and "the ethical dilemmas when religious conviction seeks to prevent medical intervention," according to a description for a reading at the U.K.'s Charleston Festival.
  • Former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove has a charmingly alliterative poem about her right knee in the Virginia Quarterly Review:
  • "Membranes matter-of-factly

    corroding, crazed cartilage calmly chipping
    away as another arduous ambulation

    begins, bone bruising bone...

    jive jiggy joint:
    Kindly keep kicking."

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    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.