To help readers explore all the finalists, we’ve created a literary mixtape linking to excerpts of all the finalists–look below for the free literary sampler. Here’s more about Maidenhead:
It is the rare writer who can produce, between the same covers, a genuine work of erotica (which Maidenhead, from Coach House Books, is) and a deep portrait of a young woman’s coming-of-age, with all that implies: her political awakening, her newly critical eye turned toward her family, and a life of embroilments far greater than she can truly handle. Tamara Faith Berger has been writing challenging and sexy books for more than a decade, but this novel is her best yet.
If you want more books, we made similar literary mixtapes linking to free samples of the most overlooked books of the year, the ALA Youth Media Award winners, the 2012 Man Booker Longlist, the Best Horror Novels of the Year, the LA Times Book Prize nominees, and the Nebula Award nominees.
Maidenhead by Tamara Faith Berger (Coach House Books): “what is painful, exciting, and sexy for the protagonist becomes what is painful, exciting, and sexy for the reader.”
I’m Trying to Reach You by Barbara Browning (Two Dollar Radio):”Barbara Browning’s second novel is a multimedia work, marrying the printed book with a series of internet dance videos created by the author.”
My Struggle (Book One) by Karl Ove Knausgaard (Archipelago Books) “Knausgaard’s deceptively casual prose (in Don Bartlett’s pellucid translation) elevates the author’s most banal personal moments to a level of near-world-historical significance.”
Parsifal by Jim Krusoe (Tin House Books): “Parsifal is less a novel than an unhurried fragmentary narrative involving a well-mannered fountain pen repairman, a sweetly doomed return to his childhood home in the forest, and an ample supporting cast of librarians, blind men, and large objects falling from the sky.”
A Naked Singularity by Sergio de la Pava (University of Chicago Press)
Self-published in 2008, A Naked Singularity was relaunched after an unprecedented word-of-mouth reputation.
The Hartford Book by Samuel Amadon (Cleveland State University Poetry Center): “Amadon describes a world of bulletproof liquor stores, illicit drive-thru drug markets, crackheads on bicycles, busted lawn furniture, broken neon signs, and sketchy—often endearing, at times hilarious—friends as they plot, drink, use, wake up in unexpected places, prank, bitch, and puke.”
Charms Against Lightning by James Arthur (Copper Canyon Press): “An entrenched strangeness exists in Arthur’s work, derived not from linguistic hijinks but from common observations (the poem “Avocado” begins: ‘In a bowl, blind as stones’).”
Goat in the Snow by Emily Pettit (Birds, LLC) “There is a relaxed dissonance to these coy, casual poems. At each turn Pettit artfully dodges the commonplace and the formerly known.”
The Oregon Trail is the Oregon Trail by Gregory Sherl (Mud Luscious Press): “Inspired by a computer game from the early ’70s—and set on the Oregon Trail of the 1840s—Gregory Sherl’s meandering, eminently likable Oregon Trail is populated by temperamental oxen, rusted bullets, thieves, and dysentery, yes—but also by aliens, Walmart, dodgeball, and Match.com.”
Rough, and Savage by Sun Yung Shin (Coffee House Press): “In this inspired follow-up to her award-winning debut Skirt Full of Black, Sun Yung Shin presents explosively imaginative poems that are never untethered from experiential reality.”
Full Disclosure: This GalleyCat editor has written for The Believer in the past.