LA Times Announces 2007 Book Prize Finalists

By Neal Comment


LA Times Book Review editor David Ulin began this year’s announcement of the paper’s Book Prize finalists with a tribute to Dutton’s Brentwood Books, the independent bookstore that recently announced it will close in April, reiterating the feelings of loss so many have expressed since the news broke early Monday morning. Then Kenneth Turan took the podium to read out the finalists in the nine different categories. I wouldn’t say there were many major surprises in the shortlists, although there were a lot of “that’s nice that they spotted that one” selections, like Stewart O’Nan‘s wonderful novel Last Night at the Lobster, or Rebecca Curtis‘s short story collection Twenty Grand in the first fiction category—where it was joined by Pamela Erens‘s The Understory, from tiny Ironweed Press. And the fact that Harcourt‘s stake in the mystery/thriller category consists of two novels in translation was an interesting twist—actually, now that I think of it, the fact that the entire mystery shortlist consists of European writers might be worth discussing…


Sarah Crichton, Geoff Kloske, and David Rosenthal enjoy the festive atmosphere. The most widely recognized book in Crichton’s FSG line, Ishmael Beah‘s A Long Way Gone, is nominated in the current events category; Riverhead has Junot Diaz‘s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Dinaw Mengestu The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears on various fiction shortlists, and Simon and Schuster has both Marianne Wiggins‘s The Shadow Catcher and Andrew Nagorski‘s Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow that Changed the Course of World War II.


Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House and Kent Carroll of Europa Editions may not have had any nominees in this batch, but both have good cause to celebrate. Melville House has just reissued A.M. Rosenthal‘s Thirty-Eight Witnesses, and Europa’s big hit of 2007, Steve Erickson‘s Zeroville is on the shortlist for the McSweeney/Believer Book Award and Roma Tearne‘s Mosquito, coming out later this year, now has a Kiriyama Prize nomination to go along with its shortlisting for the last Costa (Whitbread) Award for first novels.