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Book News: Ann Leckie's 'Ancillary Justice' Wins Hugo Award

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Ann Leckie's debut novel, the space opera Ancillary Justice, has won the prestigious Hugo Award for best novel. The book, which is narrated by the artificial intelligence of a starship that has been transplanted into a single body, has been sweeping up many of the major sci-fi and fantasy awards, including the Nebula and Arthur C. Clarke awards. In a review for NPR, Genevieve Valentine wrote, "A space opera that skillfully handles both choruses and arias, Ancillary Justice is an absorbing thousand-year history, a poignant personal journey, and a welcome addition to the genre." Other winners of this year's Hugo include John Chu's The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere for best short story and Charles Stross' Equoid for best novella.
  • In other prize news, Louise Erdrich has won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize's distinguished achievement award. Much of Erdrich's writing — which includes novels, poems, essays and short stories — reflects on the legacy of oppression and violence against Native Americans. "Her work reminds us that we are not observers but participants in the national history of the ownership of land and the taking of territory," prize founder Sharon Rab told The Associated Press. In a statement quoted by the AP, Erdrich said that she does not think of herself as a peaceful writer: "I am a troubled one, longing for peace." Erdrich won the National Book Award in 2012 with her novel The Round House,about an Ojibwe woman who is savagely raped and the impossible hurdles her son faces when he tries to seek justice.
  • Anna Keesey defends Jane Austen's most maligned heroine, the quiet Fanny Price of Mansfield Park: "In her stillness, she embodies civil disobedience, peaceful protest. She is the power of the nonviolent no. No, I won't speak that way. No, I won't cop that temporary attitude. No, I won't marry that man. No, I won't support that lie. She does not give in, and her resistance is ultimately irresistible. Mansfield reforms — re-forms — itself around the steel surveyor's pin of her single determined soul."
  • Rejoice — Lindsay Lohan's memoir will be a trilogy.
  • Notable Books Coming Out This Week:
  • Kanae Minato's Confessions is a dark Japanese thriller about a teacher whose young daughter was murdered by her students. Yuko gets her revenge by telling them she's put blood carrying an incurable disease in their milkboxes. The children turn on each other, and death follows death in this chilly debut novel by a Japanese home-economics teacher. Minato's intricate plotting and unnervingly understated sentences make the horrors follow each other as logically as pearls on a string.

    John Williams' brilliant 1973 historical novel, Augustus, is coming back into print this week, and thank goodness. Augustus uses fictional letters, decrees, fragments of memoirs and other historical oddments to reveal the intrigues of late Republican and early Imperial Rome. An epistolary novel set in Ancient Rome may seem like an abrupt jump from Williams' most famous book, his campus novel Stoner,but as Williams once said, "Except in scale, the machinations for power are about the same in a university as in the Roman Empire ... "

    Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.