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National Book Foundation announces nonfiction award nominees; Leslie Jamison on earnestness

Leslie Jamison. Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

The National Book Foundation has announced the nominees for the 2019 nonfiction prize, including Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House, Hanif Abdurraqib’s Go Ahead in the Rain, and Tressie McMillan Cottom’s Thick.

A German award jury has reversed its decision to give the Nelly Sachs Prize to British author Kamila Shamsie over her support of the BDS movement against the Israeli government.

In the New York Times Magazine, Kat Chow profiles Red in the Bone author Jacqueline Woodson.

Leslie Jamison talks to Entertainment Weekly about revision, earnestness, and her new essay collection, Make It Scream, Make It Burn. “When I claim earnestly to believe in the infinitude of every human life, it’s not a hollow platitude; it’s something I’ve spent five years reporting out,” she said. “I also think earnestness that’s standing on the back of deep research, deep skepticism, deep interrogation has a kind of force to it. It’s what separates it from the different earnestness that lives in hollow platitudes or unexplored cliches — which, obviously I have a deep love for as well.”

At Literary Hub, Torsa Ghosal reflects on how climate change is affecting fiction. “Can extreme weather stir up slumbering folk heroes and their nemeses?” she asks. “What happens when age-old stories embedded in the permafrost of intergenerational memory suddenly thaw?”

For the New York Times, Katherine Rosman looks at the world of writing workshops. Authors like Meghan Daum and Dani Shapiro run seminars that can cost anywhere from $400 for a four-week online course to $3500 for a two-day Connecticut retreat “that offers skill training, vocational advice and the sort of emotional calmness that few professional writers would describe as part of the job.”