The 10 Best Books of 2011



By Chad Harbach

At a small college on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan, the baseball team sees its fortunes rise and then rise some more with the arrival of a supremely gifted shortstop. Harbach’s expansive, allusive first novel combines the pleasures of an old-fashioned baseball story with a stately, self-reflective meditation on talent and the limits of ambition, played out on a field where every hesitation is amplified and every error judged by an exacting, bloodthirsty audience.


By Stephen King

Throughout his career, King has explored fresh ways to blend the ordinary and the supernatural. His new novel imagines a time portal in a Maine diner that lets an English teacher go back to 1958 in an effort to stop Lee Harvey Oswald and — rewardingly for readers — also allows King to reflect on questions of memory, fate and free will as he richly evokes midcentury America. The past guards its secrets, this novel reminds us, and the horror behind the quotidian is time itself.


By Karen Russell. Alfred A. Knopf, cloth, $24.95; Vintage Contemporaries, paper, $14.95.

An alligator theme park, a ghost lover, a Styx-like journey through an Everglades mangrove jungle: Russell’s first novel, about a girl’s bold effort to preserve her grieving family’s way of life, is suffused with humor and gothic whimsy. But the real wonders here are the author’s exuberantly inventive language and her vivid portrait of a heroine who is wise beyond her years.


By Eleanor Henderson

Henderson’s fierce, elegiac novel, her first, follows a group of friends, lovers, parents and children through the straight-edge music scene and the early days of the AIDS epidemic. By delving deeply into the lives of her characters, tracing their long relationships not only to one another but also to various substances, Henderson catches something of the dark, apocalyptic quality of the ’80s.


By Téa Obreht

As war returns to the Balkans, a young doctor inflects her grandfather’s folk tales with stories of her own coming of age, creating a vibrant collage of historical testimony that has neither date nor dateline. Obreht, who was born in Belgrade in 1985 but left at the age of 7, has recreated, with startling immediacy and presence, a conflict she herself did not experience.




By Christopher Hitchens

Our intellectual omnivore’s latest collection could be his last (he’s dying of esophageal cancer). The book is almost 800 pages, contains more than 100 essays and addresses a ridiculously wide range of topics, including Afghanistan, Harry Potter, Thomas Jefferson, waterboarding, Henry VIII, Saul Bellow and the Ten Commandments, which Hitchens helpfully revises.


A Father’s Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son.

By Ian Brown

A feature writer at The Globe and Mail in Toronto, Brown combines a reporter’s curiosity with a novelist’s instinctive feel for the unknowable in this exquisite book, an account — at once tender, pained and unexpectedly funny — of his son, Walker, who was born with a rare genetic mutation that has deprived him of even the most rudimentary capacities.


A Life of Reinvention.

By Manning Marable

From petty criminal to drug user to prisoner to minister to separatist to humanist to martyr. Marable, who worked for more than a decade on the book and died earlier this year, offers a more complete and unvarnished portrait of Malcolm X than the one found in his autobiography. The story remains inspiring.


By Daniel Kahneman. Farrar

We overestimate the importance of whatever it is we’re thinking about. We misremember the past and misjudge what will make us happy. In this comprehensive presentation of a life’s work, the world’s most influential psychologist demonstrates that irrationality is in our bones, and we are not necessarily the worse for it.


Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War.

By Amanda Foreman

Which side would Great Britain support during the Civil War? Foreman gives us an enormous cast of characters and a wealth of vivid description in her lavish examination of a second battle between North and South, the trans-Atlantic one waged for British hearts and minds.


The poet John Ashbery was honored for his lifetime of work.


  • Jesmyn Ward描写飓风卡特林娜的小说Salvage the Bones因其犀利的卓尔不凡的比喻赢得本年度美国国家图书奖小说奖;
  • Nikky Finney的Head Off and Split获国家图书奖诗歌奖;
  • Thanhha Lai的Inside Out and Back Again 获青少年文学奖;
  • Stephen Greenblatt的传记The Swerve: How the World Became Modern获非虚构类图书奖;
  • 诗人John Ashbery获颁美国文学杰出贡献奖(The award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters)【John Ashbery已经出版了 20多部诗集,获得过一次普利策奖( Pulitzer Prize)和一次国家图书奖。

以下是一篇来自BBC NEWS的报道:

Salvage the Bones wins US National Book Award

A novel about a Mississippi family confronting Hurricane Katrina has won the US National Book Award for fiction.

The judges praised Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones for its use of “piercing metaphor and simile”.

Nikky Finney’s Head Off and Split took the poetry prize, while Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again won the award for young people’s literature.

Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve, about Latin poet Lucretius, triumphed in the non-fiction category.

Author Ward (far right) was in Mississippi with her family when Hurricane Katrina hit

In her acceptance speech, Ward said the death of her younger brother – who was hit by a drunk driver when she was in college – had inspired her to become a writer.

She said she realised life was a “feeble, unpredictable thing,” but that books were a testament of strength in the face of a punishing world.

Greenblatt, tearful in victory, noted the miracle of words in making an ancient poet such as Lucretius matter so greatly centuries later.

University of Kentucky creative writing professor Finney also gave a poetic acceptance speech for her work, which delves into African-American life.

Actor John Lithgow, the show’s host, called it “the best acceptance speech for anything that I’ve heard in my entire life”.

The winners of the awards – which are among the most prestigious in US publishing – each received $10,000 (£6,400).

The awards were hit by controversy last month when the nominees were first announced and author Lauren Myracle mistakenly appeared on the shortlist, in the young people’s literature category, for her book Shine.

The book was withdrawn after the National Book Foundation cited a “miscommunication”. It appeared Myracle’s book had been confused with Franny Billingsley’s similar-sounding novel Chime.

Shortly after, the Foundation welcomed Shine back into the category “based on its merits”, but Myracle was asked to withdraw a number of days later “to preserve the integrity of the award”, the author said.

2011诺贝尔文学奖获得者:Tomas Transtroemer

【BBC News】

Swedish poet Transtroemer wins Nobel Literature Prize

Swedish poet Tomas Transtroemer has been awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Transtroemer is Scandinavia's best-known living poet

The Royal Swedish Academy named him the recipient “because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality”.

The 80-year-old is the 108th recipient of the prestigious prize, given last year to Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa.

Presented by the Nobel Foundation, the award – only given to living writers – is worth 10 million kronor (£944,246).

A trained psychologist, Transtroemer suffered a stroke in 1990 that affected his ability to talk.


His poems – described by Publishers Weekly as “mystical, versatile and sad” – have been translated into more than 50 languages.

English translations were largely handled by American poet Robert Bly, a personal friend, and Scottish poet Robin Fulton.

Fulton, said Transtroemer would be remembered for “his very sharp imagery that translates readily, telling metaphors and a sense of surprise”.

“You don’t feel quite the same after you’ve read it as you did before,” he added.

Fulton first began working with Transtroemer in the early 1970s, and told the BBC: “Some of the Swedish I’ve learnt was learnt in the process of translating Tomas.

“You have to plunge in somewhere. When you’re in the mood it’s good until someone points out the mistakes you’ve made.”

Tipped as a potential Nobel prize winner for many years, Transtroemer is the eighth European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in the last 10 years.

He is the first Swede to receive the prize since authors Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson shared it in 1974.

Born in April 1931 in Stockholm, Transtroemer graduated in psychology in 1956 and later worked in an institution for juvenile offenders.

His first collection of poetry, Seventeen Poems, was published when he was 23.

In 1966 he received the Bellman prize, one of many accolades he has won over his long career.

In 2003 one of his poems was read at the memorial service of Anna Lindh, the murdered Swedish foreign minister.

【New York Times】

Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer at his home in Stockholm on Thursday after receiving the news that he won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Tomas Transtromer, a Swedish poet whose sometimes bleak but graceful work explores themes of isolation, emotion and identity while remaining rooted in the commonplace, won the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.

Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy praised Mr. Transtromer, saying that “through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.”

The assembled journalists cheered upon hearing that Mr. Transtromer, who was born in Stockholm, had won the prize.

Mr. Transtromer, 80, has written more than 15 collections of poetry, many of which have been translated into English and 60 other languages.

Critics have praised Mr. Transtromer’s poems for their accessibility, even in translation, noting his elegant descriptions of long Swedish winters, the rhythm of the seasons and the palpable, atmospheric beauty of nature.

“So much poetry, not only in this country but everywhere, is small and personal and it doesn’t look outward, it looks inward,” said Daniel Halpern, the president and publisher of Ecco, the imprint of HarperCollins that has published English translations of Mr. Transtromer’s work. “But there are some poets who write true international poetry. It’s the sensibility that runs though his poems that is so seductive. He is such a curious and open and intelligent writer.”

Neil Astley, the editor of Bloodaxe Books in Britain, called Mr. Transtromer “a metaphysical visionary poet.”

“He’s worked for much of his life as a psychologist, and the work is characterized by very strong psychological insight into humanity,” Mr. Astley said.

Mr. Transtromer was born in Stockholm in 1931. His mother was a schoolteacher and his father a journalist. He studied literature, history, religion and psychology at Stockholm University, graduating in 1956, and worked as a psychologist at a youth correctional facility.

In 1990, Mr. Transtromer suffered a stroke that left him mostly unable to speak, but he eventually began to write again.

On Thursday afternoon, the stairwell in Mr. Transtromer’s apartment building filled with journalists from all over the world seeking reaction, the Swedish news media reported.

Visibly overwhelmed, Mr. Transtromer finally appeared, accompanied by his wife, Monica. Speaking on his behalf, she said her husband was most happy that the prize was awarded for poetry. “That you happened to receive it is a great joy and happy surprise, but the fact the prize went to poetry felt very good,” she said, addressing him at a gathering that quickly moved into the vestibule of their home in Stockholm.

There was also a celebration among Swedes, many of whom have read Mr. Transtromer since his first book of poems, “17 Poems,” placed him on Sweden’s literary map when he was just 23.

“To be quite honest it was a relief because people have been hoping for this for a long time,” said Ola Larsmo, a novelist and the president of the Swedish Pen association. “Some thought the train might have left the station already because he is old and not quite well. It felt great that he was confirmed in this role of national and international poet.”

John Freeman, the editor of the literary magazine Granta, said: “He is to Sweden what Robert Frost was to America. The national character, if you can say one exists, and the landscape of Sweden are very much reflected in his work. It’s easy because of that to overlook the abiding strangeness and mysteriousness of his poems.”

But in the United States, Mr. Transtromer is a virtual unknown, even to many readers of poetry, despite the fact that he has been published in English by several widely known publishers.

Mr. Halpern said that “Selected Poems,” originally published by Ecco in 2000, would be rereleased within days. On Thursday morning, print copies of his books were already backordered on online retailer sites, and electronic versions were difficult to find. New Directions, an independent publisher, released “The Great Enigma,” a poetry collection, in 2006; Graywolf Press, a publisher based in Minneapolis, released “The Half-Finished Heaven” in 2001; and in 2000, Ecco, part of HarperCollins, released “Selected Poems.”

Jeff Seroy, a spokesman for Farrar, Straus and Giroux, part of Macmillan, said Thursday that the imprint had acquired a volume of Mr. Transtromer’s work, translated by Robin Robertson, called “The Deleted World,” originally published in 2006. Mr. Seroy said the book would be released by year’s end.

Much of Mr. Transtromer’s work, including “The Half-Finished Heaven,” was translated by his close friend and fellow poet Robert Bly. Mr. Bly has been named as one of the central people who introduced Mr. Transtromer to a small but devoted group of American readers.

The selection of a European writer for the literature Nobel — the eighth in a decade — renewed criticisms that the prize is too Eurocentric. The last American writer to win a Nobel was Toni Morrison in 1993. Philip Roth has been a perennial favorite but has not been selected.

The committee noted after the announcement on Thursday that it had been many years since a Swede had won. It last happened in 1974 when Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson shared the prize.

Peter Englund, the permanent secretary of the academy, said this week that the literature jury had increased the number of “scouts” it employed to scour for books in non-European languages.

And once again, the jury proved its inscrutability. In previous years, the choice of relatively unknown writers like Herta Müller of Germany has surprised Nobel watchers; in other years, winners like Harold Pinter or Orhan Pamuk have raised questions about whether the Nobel committee is overly influenced by politics.

While Mr. Transtromer has been a longtime favorite to win the Nobel, he has also won other prizes, including the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Bonnier Award for Poetry, the Petrarch Prize in Germany and the Bellman Prize.

The Nobel Prize comes with an honorarium of nearly $1.5 million.

Christina Anderson contributed reporting from Stockholm.



《纽约时报》(The New York Times)获得了普利策经济评论奖和有关俄罗斯的新闻报道奖;《洛杉矶时报》(The Los Angeles Times)获得了普利策公众服务奖和摄影配图奖。


这次还破天荒地颁奖给了一个没有正是出版发行的一份新闻报道: ProPublica’s series “The Wall Street Money Machine” .

此外,《华尔街论丛》( The Wall Street Journal)自2007年被默多克(Rupert Murdoch)收购以来首获大奖:约瑟夫·雷戈( Joseph Rago)获普利策编辑奖。

供职《华盛顿邮报》的卡萝尔·古琦(Carol Guzy)再获普利策摄影奖。她成了第一位四获普利策奖的新闻工作者。这次她和尼基·卡恩(Nikki Kahn)以及里奇·卡里奥蒂(Ricky Carioti)一起分享了今年的普利策摄影奖。


普利策小说奖颁给了珍妮弗·艾根(Jennifer Egan)的 “A Visit From The Goon Squad”;
布鲁斯·诺里斯(Bruce Norris)的戏剧 “Clybourne Park” 获得了普利策戏剧奖;
普利策历史奖颁给了诶里克·冯纳(Eric Foner)的 “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery”;
荣·切尔诺(Ron Chernow)的 “Washington: A Life”获得了普利策传记奖;
周龙(音译)的《白娘子》(“Madame White Snake”)获普利策音乐奖。
普利策诗歌奖颁给了凯伊·瑞恩(Kay Ryan)的“The Best of It: New and Selected Poems”;
普利策非虚构类奖颁给了希德哈尔塞·穆克赫尔吉(Siddhartha Mukherjee)的 “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer”;



独立外国小说奖(Independent Foreign Fiction Prize):

今年,进入该奖项最后名单的有曾经于1990年获得过该奖头名,2006年获得了诺贝尔文学奖的土耳其作家澳尔汗·帕慕克(Orhan Pamuk)。他的参选作品为《纯真博物馆》(Museum of Innocence)。
2006年获得过此项殊荣的挪威作家泊尔·佩特森(Per Petterson)再次获选进入短名单(shortlist)。他的参选作品是《我诅咒时间之河》(I Curse the River of Time)。夏洛特·巴斯伦德(Charlotte Barslund)翻译。

秘鲁作家Santiago Roncagliolo的《红色四月》(Red April)
阿根廷作家Marcelo Figueras的《堪察加》(Kamchatka)
委内瑞拉作家Alberto Barrera Tyszka的处女作《病》(The Sickness)

以及一篇德国作家Jenny Erpenbeck的第三部小说《视察》(Visitation)


去年获得该奖的是法国作家Philippe Claudel 的《布洛德克的报告》(Brodeck’s Report)。约翰·库伦(John Cullen)翻译。

橙桔奖(Orange Prize):



凯瑟琳·温特(Kathleen Winter)的处女作《安娜贝尔》(Annabel);
缇·奥布莱希特(Tea Obrecht)的处女作《虎太太》(The Tiger’s Wife);
爱玛·亨德森(Emma Henderson)的处女作《格莱斯·威廉斯大声说》(Grace Williams Says It Loud);
爱玛·多诺休(Emma Donoghue)的《房间》(Room);
阿米奈塔·福尔纳(Aminatta Forna)的《爱的记忆》(The Memory of Love);
妮柯·克劳斯( Nicole Krauss)的《大宅》(Great House)。


去年独得三万英镑奖金的是美国作家芭芭拉·金索沃(Barbara Kingsolver),她的获奖作品为其第六部小说《空隙》( The Lacuna)。

英国作家扎迪·史密斯(Zadie Smith)的《关于美》(On Beauty)于2006年获得过此项大奖。

Happy New Year!

谨以Neon Trees的一首“Wish List”向大家恭贺新年:希望大家(也包括我本人)新年快乐、身体健康、事业有新起点、生活有新目标!总之,事事如意,吉祥安康!

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