Pulitzer Prizes announced

April 18, 2016

The 2016 Pulitzer Prizes have been awarded.  The Pulitzer has three classes of awards – Journalism – Letters, drama and music  –  and Special citations.  No special citations were given this year.

The prizes for letters, drama and music are:

Fiction: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Drama: Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda

History: Custer’s trials  : a life on the frontier of a new America by T. J. Stiles

Biography or Autobiography: Barbarian days : a surfing life by William Finnegan

Poetry:  Ozone journal by Peter Balakian

General nonfiction: Black flags : the rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick

Music:  In for a Penny, In for a Pound  by  Henry Threadgill

Sno-Isle owns all of the books except for Ozone journal, which Darren is purchasing, and the music title.

Entertainment Weekly has more information. Here is The Guardian article.


Posted by Becky






Please comment to claim with your SI workplace.

Coming out tomorrow, William Geroux’s The Mathews Men tells the story of the largely unsung Merchant Marine in World War II, focusing on the contribution of the tightly knit sailors hailing from one out-of-the-way county in Virginia.  Early in the war and even before, German U-boats basically had their way with US merchant fleets trying to get supplies to allies and later US troops in the European theater, even once brazenly sinking a ship in the shallows of the Mississippi Delta.  In the awful year of 1942, U-boats sank one US ship per day, while our government was concentrating on replacing them just as quickly rather than protecting existing vessels.  Geroux covers the U-boat captains and crew as well, who in the end lost far more than the American side at sea.  The gritty details of life in a  U-boat (where showers weren’t allowed and even toilet malfunctions could be as deadly as they were disgusting) as well as on US fuel tankers hit by U-boats (raining fiery death and burning crew members who would normally have to worry about drowning), rivet the reader in place.  Equally fascinating were the lives of the women left behind, many of them serving as both patriarchs and matriarchs of their large families, operating self-supporting farms while their men were perpetually at sea.  I think this will be considered one of the best books of 2016 and is a great follow-up read to Boys in the Boat and Erik Larson’s Dead Wake.


Geroux, William. The Mathews Men. Viking.

Summary: “Vividly drawn and emotionally gripping.” –Daniel James Brown, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat  One of the last unheralded heroic stories of World War II: the U-boat assault off the American coast against the men of the U.S. Merchant Marine who were supplying the European war, and one community’s monumental contribution to that effort  Mathews County, Virginia, is a remote outpost on the Chesapeake Bay with little to offer except unspoiled scenery–but it sent an unusually large concentration of sea captains to fight in World War II. The Mathews Men tells that heroic story through the experiences of one extraordinary family whose seven sons (and their neighbors), U.S. merchant mariners all, suddenly found themselves squarely in the cross-hairs of the U-boats bearing down on the coastal United States in 1942.  From the late 1930s to 1945, virtually all the fuel, foThe Mathews Men : Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-boatsod and munitions that sustained the Allies in Europe traveled not via the Navy but in merchant ships. After Pearl Harbor, those unprotected ships instantly became the U-boats’ prime targets. And they were easy targets–the Navy lacked the inclination or resources to defend them until the beginning of 1943. Hitler was determined that his U-boats should sink every American ship they could find, sometimes within sight of tourist beaches, and to kill as many mariners as possible, in order to frighten their shipmates into staying ashore. As the war progressed, men from Mathews sailed the North and South Atlantic, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and even the icy Barents Sea in the Arctic Circle, where they braved the dreaded Murmansk Run. Through their experiences we have eyewitnesses to every danger zone, in every kind of ship. Some died horrific deaths. Others fought to survive torpedo explosions, flaming oil slicks, storms, shark attacks, mine blasts, and harrowing lifeboat odysseys–only to ship out again on the next boat as soon as they’d returned to safety.  The Mathews Men shows us the war far beyond traditional battlefields–often the U.S. merchant mariners’ life-and-death struggles took place just off the U.S. coast–but also takes us to the landing beaches at D-Day and to the Pacific. “When final victory is ours,” General Dwight D. Eisenhower had predicted, “there is no organization that will share its credit more deservedly than the Merchant Marine.” Here, finally, is the heroic story of those merchant seamen, recast as the human story of the men from Mathews.

Updates: Best Friend’s Exorcism  and Kill ‘Em “sold out”


I have two of each of these.  Be the first or second to comment and I’ll see they get to your Sno-Isle workplace.

Angela Duckworth’s Grit has a near purchase alert queue brewing, while the other have budding queues of 2-3 and could perhaps thrive with an RA nudge.  James McBride, author of Kill ‘Em and Leave ‘Em about pop singer legend James Brown, also gave us The Color of Water and The Good Lord Bird.  Both have been hits in our book discussion kits.

McBride, James. Kill ‘Em and Leave ‘Em.  Spiegel & Grau.  April 5, 2016

Kill 'em and leave : searching for James Brown and the American soulSummary: National Book Award winner James McBride goes in search of the “real” James Brown after receiving a tip that promises to uncover the man behind the myth. His surprising journey illuminates not only our understanding of this immensely troubled, misunderstood, and complicated soul genius but the ways in which our cultural heritage has been shaped by Brown’s legacy. Kill ‘Em and Leave is more than a book about James Brown. Brown’s rough-and-tumble life, through McBride’s lens, is an unsettling metaphor for American life: the tension between North and South, black and white, rich and poor. McBride’s travels take him to forgotten corners of Brown’s never-before-revealed history: the country town where Brown’s family and thousands of others were displaced by America’s largest nuclear power bomb-making facility; a South Carolina field where a long-forgotten cousin recounts, in the dead of night, a fuller history of Brown’s sharecropping childhood, which until now has been a mystery.



Hendrix, Grady. My Best Friend’s Exorcism.  Quirk Books. May 17, 2016.

My Best Friend's ExorcismSummary: A heartwarming story of friendship and demonic possession. The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act…different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries–and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil? Like an unholy hybrid of Beaches and The Exorcist , My Best Friend’s Exorcism blends teen angst, adolescent drama, unspeakable horrors, and a mix of ’80s pop songs into a pulse-pounding supernatural thriller.




Vestal, Shawn.  Daredevils. Penguin Press. April 12, 2016. Daredevils


Summary: From the winner of 2014’s PEN Robert W. Bingham Prize, an unforgettable debut novel about Loretta, a teenager married off as a “sister wife,” who makes a break for freedom   At the heart of this exciting debut novel, set in Arizona and Idaho in the mid-1970s, is fifteen-year-old Loretta, who slips out of her bedroom every evening to meet her so-called gentile boyfriend. Her strict Mormon parents catch her returning one night, and promptly marry her off to Dean Harder, a devout yet materialistic fundamentalist who already has a wife and a brood of kids. The Harders relocate to his native Idaho, where Dean’s teenage nephew Jason falls hard for Loretta. A Zeppelin and Tolkien fan, Jason worships Evel Knievel and longs to leave his close-minded community. He and Loretta make a break for it. They drive all night, stay in hotels, and relish their dizzying burst of teenage freedom as they seek to recover Dean’s cache of “Mormon gold.” But someone Loretta left behind is on their trail…  A riveting story of desire and escape, Daredevils boasts memorable set pieces and a rich cast of secondary characters. There’s Dean’s other wife, Ruth, who as a child in the 1950s was separated from her parents during the notorious Short Creek raid, when federal agents descended on a Mormon fundamentalist community. There’s Jason’s best friend, Boyd, part Native American and caught up in the activist spirit of the time, who comes along for the ride, with disastrous results. And Vestal’s ultimate creation is a superbly sleazy chatterbox–a man who might or might not be Evel Knievel himself–who works his charms on Loretta at a casino in Elko, Nevada. A lifelong journalist whose Spokesman column is a fixture in Spokane, WA, Shawn has honed his fiction over many years, publishing in journals like McSweeney’s and Tin House. His stunning first collection, Godforsaken Idaho, burrowed into history as it engaged with masculinity and crime, faith and apostasy, and the West that he knows so well. Daredevils shows what he can do on a broader canvas–a fascinating, wide-angle portrait of a time and place that’s both a classic coming of age tale and a plunge into the myths of America, sacred and profane.


Duckworth, Angela. Grit: Passion, Perseverance, and the Science of Success.  Scribner. May 3, 2016. 

Grit : the power of passion and perseverance

Summary: In this must-read book for anyone striving to succeed, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows parents, educators, athletes, students, and business people–both seasoned and new–that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a focused persistence called “grit.” Why do some people succeed and others fail? Sharing new insights from her landmark research on grit, MacArthur “genius” Angela Duckworth explains why talent is hardly a guarantor of success. Rather, other factors can be even more crucial such as identifying our passions and following through on our commitments.Drawing on her own powerful story as the daughter of a scientist who frequently bemoaned her lack of smarts, Duckworth describes her winding path through teaching, business consulting, and neuroscience, which led to the hypothesis that what really drives success is not “genius” but a special blend of passion and long-term perseverance. As a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Duckworth created her own “character lab” and set out to test her theory.  Here, she takes readers into the field to visit teachers working in some of the toughest schools, cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, and young finalists in the National Spelling Bee. She also mines fascinating insights from history and shows what can be gleaned from modern experiments in peak performance. Finally, she shares what she’s learned from interviewing dozens of high achievers–from JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon to the cartoon editor of The New Yorker to Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll. Winningly personal, insightful, and even life-changing, Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that –not talent or luck–makes all the difference.

EarlyWord reports that Alex Haley’s Roots is being re-adapted for TV’s The History Channel this May.  A new TV tie-in edition of the novel published by Da Capo (though it still may be classified as non-fiction or biography as it was originally) is coming this May as well.  We have 15 copies on order under the title Roots: The Saga of An American Family.  A picture of the new cover is below.

Another media tie-in to watch out for is Lost City of Z by David Grann, the basis for a movie likely to come out this fall.  We have 10 copies of the book but I’m not finding an audiobook supplier, but we’ll keep our eyes open.

Roots : The Saga of an American Family

The lost city of Z : a tale of deadly obsession in the Amazon







Over the last couple of days the sad news has broken that Partners West in Renton is shutting down after 32 years. Here is the PW story.  Partners supplied our Best Bets  (Explore before that) and Book Discussion Kit orders and were shopping grounds for many teen paperbacks, teen classics, and board books as well. We will all miss Partner’s dedicated, quality customer service, which they seem to be keeping up to the very end.  For example, a personal representative called Acquisitions early yesterday to assure us that ordered materials would still be arriving in early April and to personally inform us of their closure.  According to the story, many West Coast bookstores will join us in missing them, too.

Pun titled book featuring a town / branch library with cute cats actually recruited to control mice, cutely named after a major book vendor, and it’s a memoir by a retired librarian.  As if you needed to know anything else, I do have two ARC for first claimants who want to read this true story for themselves.

The True Tails of Baker & Taylor : The Library Cats Who Left Their Pawprints on a Small Town... and the WorldIt all started with mice in the library.  Assistant librarian Jan Louch and a coworker decided that what the library needed was a cat. Or, even better, two cats. Soon, they found a pair of Scottish Folds who were perfect for the job. Jan named them Baker and Taylor, and they took up residence in the library.  But these cats were much more than mousers. Visitors to the library fell in love with Baker and Taylor and their antics just as Jan had. And then, after Jan let the cats be photographed for a poster, they became feline celebrities. Children from across the country wrote them letters, fans traveled from far and wide to meet them, and they became the most famous library cats in the world.</p> <p>In The True Tails of Baker and Taylor, Jan Louch looks back and tells the remarkable story of these two marvelous cats and the people—readers, librarians, and cat lovers of all ages—who came together around them.


This comes out April 19th.  The audio edition is on the way also.  I now have two print ARC’s to share.

Lynch, Jim. Before the Wind. Knopf, 2016. 

Before the Wind

Following The Highest Tide, Border Songs, and Truth Like the Sun, Jim Lynch now gives us a grand and idiosyncratic family saga that will stand alongside Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion.  Joshua Johannssen has spent all of his life surrounded by sailboats. His grandfather designed them, his father built and raced them, his Einstein-obsessed mother knows why and how they work (or not). For Josh and his two siblings, their backyard was the Puget Sound and sailing their DNA. But both his sister and brother fled many years ago: Ruby to Africa and elsewhere to do good works on land, and Bernard to god-knows-where at sea, a fugitive and pirate. Suddenly thirty-one, Josh–who repairs boats of all kinds in a Steinbeckian marina south of Seattle–is pained and confused by whatever the hell went wrong with his volatile family. His parents are barely speaking, his mystified grandfather is drinking harder, and he himself–despite an endless and comic flurry of online dates–hasn’t even come close to finding a girlfriend.  But when the Johannssens unexpectedly reunite for the most important race in these waters–all of them together on a classic vessel they made decades ago–they will be carried to destinies both individual and collective, and to a heart-shattering revelation. Past and present merge seamlessly and collide surprisingly as Jim Lynch reveals a family unlike any other, with the grace and humor and magic of a master storyteller.




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