The Maine Readers’ Choice Award Committee is pleased to announce the three finalists for 2013.
This year’s finalists include two debut authors and a three-time novelist who has gained commercial success and literary respect over the course of the past five years. There is no question that the debut authors (Cash and Powers) have a bright future ahead of them.
The finalists are:
A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash (HarperCollins)
For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when you get caught spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can’t help sneaking a look at something he’s not supposed to—an act that will have repercussions. It’s a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he’s not prepared. He now knows that a new understanding can bring not only danger and evil—but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance.
Told by resonant and evocative characters, A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all.
Cash’s debut novel is a New York Times Bestseller and made the list of New York Times Notable Book of 2012. It also is a Southern Independent Booksellers Association’s Book Award Finalist for 2012, Strand Magazine Critics Award Finalist for Debut of 2012, Indies Choice Finalist for Debut of 2012, Library Journal Top Ten Book of 2012, Kirkus Reviews Best of 2012, Crime Writers’ Associations’ Debut Novel of 2012, Indie Next Pick, SIBA Okra Pick , Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection , and Winner of the 2012 John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award
The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers (Little,Brown)
Amazon Reviewer Jon Foro wrote this about The Yellow Birds when it was selected as best debut novel (September 2012). “ With The Yellow Birds, Kevin Powers introduces himself as a writer of prodigious talent and ambition. The novel opens in 2004, when two soldiers, 21-year-old Bartle and the teenaged Murphy, meet in boot camp on the eve of their deployment to Iraq. Bartle, bound by a promise to Murphy’s mother to guide him home safely, takes the young private under his wing as they move through the bloody conflict that “rubbed its thousand ribs against the ground in prayer.” Powers, an Iraq veteran, eyes the casual violence of war with a poet’s precision but without romanticism, moving confidently between scenes of blunt atrocity and almost hallucinatory detachment with Hemingway-like economy and prose that shimmers like desert heat. Compact and emotionally intense, The Yellow Birds joins a maturing and impressive collection of Iraq War literature–both memoir and fiction–that includes Brian Castner’s The Long Walk and Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. ”
The Yellow Birds has received the 2012 Guardian First Book Award, the 2013 PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction, the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction. Kevin Powers, a 32-year-old Iraq War vet, has won an Anisfield-Woof Book Award for this celebrated debut novel. The award was announced in late April and carries a $10,000 prize. The award recognizes fiction, poetry and nonfiction that has “made an important contribution to society’s understanding of racism and the diversity of cultures.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown)
Deceit, infidelity, suspicion . . . and that’s only the beginning. When Nick and Amy fall in love, they are the confident, handsome man and the beautiful, privileged young woman embracing in front of their Brooklyn Heights brownstone and sharing a laugh at the expense of less blissful couples. Eventually, their picture-perfect union falters: Amy grows weary of the “cool girl” image she’s portrayed; Nick gives rein to old impulses and easy lies. As with many marriages, friction works its way into everyday exchanges, and the glow of the honeymoon fades. But with Amy and Nick, that fracture takes a much darker turn.
In a story full of surprising twists, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl tracks the course of a marriage gone spectacularly wrong. For the protagonists, it’s a psychological battle with everything at stake; for the reader, an excavation of human failings and incredible depths of betrayal . . . and a mystery whose resolution is every bit as troubling as its beginning.
Flynn’s literary mystery debut, Sharp Objects, was an Edgar finalist and the winner of two of Britain’s Dagger Awards–the first book ever to win multiple Daggers in one year. Her second novel, Dark Places, was a New York Times Bestseller, a New Yorker Reviewers’ Favorite, Weekend TODAY Top Summer Read, Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2009, and the Chicago Tribune Favorite Fiction Choice. The movie rights have been sold for all three of her books.
Gone Girl is nominated for a Barry Award for Best Novel, for the Strand Critics Award, and the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Maine readers will be able to vote online at the award’s website and at public libraries and bookstores throughout the state. The winner will be announced in October at the 2013 Bangor Book Festival.