It's that time of year again, when the international literary community bestows honors upon its favored authors. This year’s Nobel Prize for Literature went to the French writer Patrick Modiano, "for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.” Suspended Sentences, Three Novellas. Although originally published separately, Patrick Modiano's three novellas (Afterimage, Suspended Sentences and Flowers of Ruin) form a single, compelling whole. It’s the author’s three-part love song to a Paris that no longer exists, a Paris under Nazi Occupation that is fraught with uncertainty, chaos, loss and mystery. (FRA185, $16.00)
The Man Booker Prize is awarded annually to the best fiction book of the year. This year’s competition marked the first time the prize was open to all books written in English, not just those written by writers of the Commonwealth and Ireland. The award went to Tasmanian writer Richard Flanagan for his new book The Narrow Road to the Deep North.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Alternating between Thailand, Burma and Australia, this dark and beautiful novel traces the life of Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans from WWII to the present. While haunted by an illicit love affair, the military commander faces starvation, merciless beatings and insanity at a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway. His journey explores issues as diverse as family, good, evil, guilt, transcendence, war and truth. Richard Flanagan has also won Australia's National Fiction Prize the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. (ASA97, $26.95)
The Dolman Travel Book Award is Britain’s prize for the best travel book of the year. View a list of the titles shortlisted this year here. Last year the award was split between Kathleen Jamie’s Sightlines and Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways. This year the French author Sylvain Tesson, author of The Consolations of the Forest, took home the prize, or will do so as soon as he has recovered fully from his latest adventure. Ever the traveler, Tesson was not present at the awards ceremony on September 30 because of a severe head injury caused by a climbing accident at a chalet in Chamonix in August, from which Tesson is expected to fully recover.
The Consolations of the Forest. A profound, deeply reflective account of a French journalist's escape from the pressures of life in Paris to an isolated hut on the shores of Lake Baikal. With over 70 books and a few supplies, Sylvain Tesson set up camp for six months to plumb the depths of solitude against the cold, contemplative landscape of Siberia in deep winter. A Thoreauvian masterpiece, without the moralizing, and with plenty of vodka and Tabasco sauce and a few hardy visitors to keep his thoughtful revelations company. (SIB74, $24.95)