The First Novel Prize is awarded every year to the best debut novel published between January 1 and December 31 of the award year. The author of the winning book is awarded $10,000 and each shortlisted author receives $1,000. This year the award ceremony is held on December 8 at The Metropolitan Club in New York.
After the Parade by Lori Ostlund (Scribner)
Sensitive, big-hearted, and achingly self-conscious, forty-year-old Aaron Englund long ago escaped the confines of his Midwestern hometown, but he still feels like an outcast. After twenty years under the Pygmalion-like direction of his older partner Walter, Aaron at last decides it is time to stop letting life happen to him and to take control of his own fate. But soon after establishing himself in San Francisco—where he alternates between a shoddy garage apartment and the absurdly ramshackle ESL school where he teaches—Aaron sees that real freedom will not come until he has made peace with his memories of Morton, Minnesota: a cramped town whose four hundred souls form a constellation of Aaron's childhood heartbreaks and hopes.
Against the Country by Ben Metcalf (Random House)
In a voice both perfectly American and utterly new, Ben Metcalf introduces the reader to Goochland County, Virginia—a land of stubborn soil, voracious insects, lackluster farms, and horrifying trees—and details one family's pitiful struggle to survive there. Eventually it becomes clear that Goochland is not merely the author's setting; it is a growing, throbbing menace that warps and scars every one of his characters' lives.
Bright Lines by Tanwi Nandini Islam (Penguin Books)
For as long as she can remember, Ella has longed to feel at home. Orphaned as a child after her parents' murder, and afflicted with hallucinations at dusk, she's always felt more at ease in nature than with people. She traveled from Bangladesh to Brooklyn to live with the Saleems: her uncle Anwar, aunt Hashi, and their beautiful daughter, Charu, her complete opposite. One summer, when Ella returns home from college, she discovers Charu's friend Maya—an Islamic cleric's runaway daughter—asleep in her bedroom. As the girls have a summer of clandestine adventure and sexual awakenings, Anwar—owner of a popular botanical apothecary—has his own secrets, threatening his thirty-year marriage. But when tragedy strikes, the Saleems find themselves blamed. To keep his family from unraveling, Anwar takes them on a fated trip to Bangladesh, to reckon with the past, their extended family, and each other.
The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (Little, Brown)
Told from the point of view of nine year old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, The Fishermen is the Cain and Abel-esque story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990’s Nigeria, in the small town of Akure. When their strict father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his extended absence to skip school and go fishing. At the ominous, forbidden nearby river, they meet a dangerous local madman who persuades the oldest of the boys that he is destined to be killed by one of his siblings. What happens next is an almost mythic event whose impact-both tragic and redemptive-will transcend the lives and imaginations of its characters and its readers.
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press)
It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause.
The Turner House by Angela Flournoy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone—and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit's East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts—and shapes—their family's future.
The Unfortunates by Sophie McManus (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Cecilia Somner’s fate hangs in the balance. A larger-than-life heiress to a robber baron’s fortune, once known as much for her cruel wit as for her tremendous generosity, CeCe is now in opulent decline. Afflicted with a rare disease and touched by mortality for the first time, she finds her gilded, by-gone values colliding with an unforgiving present. Along with her troubled son, George, and his out-sider wife, Iris, CeCe must face the Somners’ dark legacy and the corrupting nature of wealth. As the Somner family struggles to find a solution to its troubles, the secrets and lies between CeCe, George, and Iris grow entangled. CeCe’s world topples, culminating in a startling turn of events that is as unforgettable as it is life-changing.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Sometimes we all come up with great ideas on how an e-reader can be improved or how the e-book shopping experience can be more intuitive and robust. Kobo has been running a program the last year that lets hardcore e-reader owners have a voice and help chart the direction of the company. It is called Kobo Insiders.
Kobo Insiders is an online community where you can chat with other Kobo e-reader owners. You can also get involved in various beta programs for new features that Kobo is thinking of implementing, and provide feedback. Every month or so there are polls the company releases, asking about new design features for future products.
Kobo Insiders is a program that is normally invite only, but if you feel compelled to report a bug or suggest new features you can manually register by clicking HERE.
|I’ve been using the Lenovo Tab 2 A10 as my primary tablet for the past month and I really like it. It’s the best Android tablet that I’ve owned, and I like it enough that I got rid of all my other tablets, including a first gen iPad Air. The Lenovo Tab 2 A10 is […]|
|The Kindle Voyage was first released back in October of 2014. Since it’s release, the Kindle Voyage hasn’t gone on sale even once. Amazon’s sales always involve other Kindles and never the Voyage. But now there’s finally a way to get one at a discount. Amazon recently started selling Certified Refurbished Kindle Voyages. Currently they […]|
Sometimes added functionality isn’t exactly functional. Sometimes, it’s more a sort of demonstration that something can be done, whether or not it’s actually a very good idea.
UK readers may not recognise the machine below, but those of you in the USA (as long as you’re of a certain vintage) will be familiar with it. It’s a TRS-80 model 100: an incredibly early (1983-ish) laptop-type computer, whose market was mostly in the US and Canada, made in partnership by Kyocera and Microsoft. The 8k version would set you back $1099, and the 24k version $1399 – an absolute ton of money in 1983, when we many of us at Pi Towers were either not born yet, or still at the corduroy dungarees and deelyboppers phase.
The TRS-80, rather amazingly, was a connected machine, with a built-in modem. It was a popular tool for journalists; you could save about eleven pages of text if you were out in the field, and send it over that modem to your editor using a program called TELCOM – an incredibly liberating technology at the time. It was pretty power-efficient as well; it took four AA batteries, which lasted for about 20 hours.
So what better for retro-hardware lovers than an internet-connected TRS-80 model 100? That’s exactly what Sean Gallagher from Ars Technica made.
Sean says that the TRS-80 is the last machine Bill Gates ever wrote a significant amount of code for, and that Gates has said it’s his favourite ever machine.
This is a really tricky problem to work your way around when you consider that modern websites don’t really work within a 40 columns by eight lines display; that the TRS-80 keyboard doesn’t have a | or pipe symbol; that you can’t load a TCP/IP stack onto the device; that Sean had to build his own null-modem cable – it’s a labour of love and an absolutely fascinating read. Head over to Ars Technica to read more about dragging 1980s hardware some of the way into the 21st century.