Young Lions, Old Tigers

This week saw shortlists for two very different fiction awards, one for a debut author and the other celebrating an older writer’s complete body of work.

The New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award contestants, all of them 35 or younger, stand to win $10,000 for a first novel or short story collection. It’s a great leg up for a younger writer just beginning to establish his or her reputation (although I do find it a bit objectionable that the Young Lions’ membership group is also restricted to “New Yorkers in their 20s and 30s”—presumably Paul LeClerc isn’t allowed to sit in either), and the finalists are all worthy whippersnappers:

Citrus County by John Brandon
Vida by Patricia Engel
The Instructions by Adam Levin
Death Is Not an Option by Suzanne Rivecca
Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne

The Man Booker International prize, although it doesn’t have age restrictions—only that that the recipient still be alive—is all about the oeuvre, and therefore the more mature writer. The award, given every two years, goes to an English-language (or widely translated) author, with the emphasis on “overall contribution to fiction on the world stage.” Finalists this year are: Wang Anyi (China), Juan Goytisolo (Spain), James Kelman (UK), Amin Maalouf (Lebanon), David Malouf (Ausralia), Dacia Maraini (Italy), Rohinton Mistry (India/Canada), Philip Pullman (UK), Marilynne Robinson (USA), Philip Roth (USA), Su Tong (China), and Anne Tyler (USA).

John le Carré was also included but declined, saying, “I am enormously flattered to be named as a finalist of the 2011 Man Booker International Prize. However, I do not compete for literary prizes and have, therefore, asked for my name to be withdrawn.” Although his name remains on the list, I’m guessing the Man Booker judges aren’t going to give £60,000 to someone who doesn’t want it (and probably needs it less than anyone else there.)

The Young Lions prize will be awarded on May 9, and the Man Booker International on May 18.

(A Lion and Tiger in a Cave, oil on canvas, by Johann Georg de Hamilton.)


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