Book Beat: 2017 Man Booker Prize and More Genius Grant Winners

Hi all, Stephanie here! This week’s Book Beat may seem to be all over the place, but there are two themes that a lot of this news shares: diversity and change. I’m a pretty outspoken supporter for diversity, but I’m less enthused about change in general. I’ve especially been trying to embrace change in my personal life after being stagnant for over a year. It can be very scary to realize that the world will change whether we want it to or not, but for me it’s also been important to see change as not inherently good or bad. It’s just something that happens. So, learning to accept and embrace change can actually make you happier and feel more prepared for the future… though it’s definitely not easy!

The Industry’s March of Progress

One of the biggest obstacles to change is institutional oppression. It’s taken years, for instance, for Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s track record as a serial harasser and assaulter to come to the public eye. Thankfully, it’s only been a matter of days for his reputation and legacy to rightfully fall to pieces.

One consequence of the newly public allegations is the shutting down of imprint Weinstein Books, formally called Miramax Books, by Hachette Book Group. Hachette’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Pietsch has already said that authors who currently have contracts with the relatively small imprint will have their work published under other Hachette imprints. Hopefully none of the employees or clients of Weinstein Books will suffer from this monumental change.

YA author Intisar Khanani by Studio JM Photography

New Diverse Authors

In more cheerful news, Muslim YA author Intisar Khanani recently signed a contract with HarperTeen for her novel Thorn, which will be released under the imprint in winter 2019. Khanani wrote the first draft as a college student and self-published her novel soon after. Both the writing quality and diverse mythologies in Khanani’s novel caught the eye of literary agent Emmanuelle Morgen at Stonesong, and HarperTeen senior editor Emilia Rhodes agreed. As a woman of color and an aspiring writer myself, it’s heartening to see Khanani taking risks and succeeding.

More Book Awards!

Even the latest book award announcements are full of change and diversity. The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, which traditionally has gone to an author of British origins, was awarded to American author George Saunders this week. Known for his short stories, Saunders won the award for his first full-length novel Lincoln in the Bardo about President Abraham Lincoln’s frequent trips to the crypt where his young son was laid to rest. He is the second American author to win the Man Booker Prize in its nearly fifty-year history.

Meanwhile, as we mentioned in last week’s Book Beat, the MacArthur Foundation recently announced this year’s “genius grant” recipients who each will receive a $625,000 grant. Though the Foundation aims to award creatives of all types, there’s a strong amount of authors and creatives of color who have been rewarded for their diverse specialties.

Along with previously mentioned authors Viet Thanh Nguyen and Jesmyn Ward, this year’s grants also went to University of Michigan anthropologist Jason De León, whose work deals with Mexican migrants; historian Sunil Amrith, who writes on how climate and environment impact South and Southeast Asia today; and New York Times Magazine investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Happy Thursday!

Stephanie Tran

Stephanie Tran

Queer, 20-something intersectional feminist, Vietnamese-American, and born fangirl. Writes about anything geeky and thinks about food too much. You can find Stephanie's Twitter rants at @YouAndYourEgo.