New books to give (and get) by Windham-Campbell Prize recipients this holiday season


New books to give (and get) by Windham-Campbell Prize recipients this holiday season

December 13, 2017

Dear Reader:

Welcome to the December 2017 edition of the Windham-Campbell Newsletter, our new monthly missive regarding all things Windham-Campbell. Learn about new projects by prize recipients past and present. Find out what's in store for the 2018 festival. And of course, be the first to know the names of the prize recipients in March, when eight writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama from around the world receive the ($165,000) phone call of a lifetime!

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Here are 15 new books, published this year, sure to delight and engage everyone on your list:


Helon Habila (2015, fiction) published The Chibok Girls with Penguin Books in multiple countries: “Reporting from inside the traumatized and blockaded community of Chibok, [Habila] tracks down the survivors and the bereaved. Two years after the attack, he bears witness to their stories and to their grief.” The Atlantic said that “Habila’s unusual primer quietly yet powerfully revives the call to take notice.”

Maya Jasanoff (2017, nonfiction) published The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World(Penguin Press), of which Ngugi wa Thiong’o wrote in the New York Times Book Review: “It has made me want to re-establish connections with the Conrad whose written sentences once inspired in me the same joy as a musical phrase.”

New York Review Books collected “fifteen brilliant essays written over as many years [that] provide a map of the sensibility and critical intelligence of Tom McCarthy [(2013, fiction)], one of the most original and challenging novelists at work today,” in Typewriters, Bombs, Jellyfish, a work that Publishers Weekly described as providing “a map of all the space that art, literature, and culture have carved out for each other.”

Pankaj Mishra (2014, nonfiction) published The Age of Anger (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), which the Financial Times said is “vitally germane to the global expressions of discontent that we are now witnessing.”

Counterpoint Press has posthumously published Don't Save Anything: The Uncollected Writings ofJames Salter (2013, fiction), a volume gathering “Salter’s thoughts on writing and profiles of important writers, observations of the changing American military life, evocations of Aspen winters, musings on mountain climbing and skiing, and tales of travels to Europe that first appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, People, Condé Nast Traveler, and the Aspen Times, among other publications.”


In the U.K., Serpent's Tail published The Hidden Keys by André Alexis (2017, fiction), which The Independent called “startlingly original.” Notes the publisher: “Inspired by a reading of Treasure Island, The Hidden Keys questions what it means to be honorable and faithful in the face of desire.”

Nadeem Aslam (2014, fiction) published The Golden Legend (Knopf), “set in contemporary Pakistan, the story of a Muslim widow and her Christian neighbors whose community is consumed by violent religious intolerance.” The Wall Street Journal said, “Beautifully imagined … [Aslam] makes the unfathomable appear almost ordinary, drawing readers into his multifaceted story and making its brutality more recognizably terrible. Mr. Aslam’s expansive view of history lends his writing this equanimity, as well as its stubborn sense of hope.”

Seven Stories Press in the U.S. published a paperback edition of Kia Corthron's (2014, drama) The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter, which won the Center for Fiction's 2016 First Novel Prize, and prompted Elle magazine to ask, in a profile, “Has culture finally caught up to Kia Corthron? For years the author's subject matter (homelessness, race, and violence) made her an anomaly. But the ultra-talented Corthron seems right on the political pulse.”

Tessa Hadley's (2016, fiction) Bad Dreams and Other Stories was published by Harper in the U.S.Writing for The Bookseller in January about the impact of receiving the Windham-Campbell Prize, Tessa said, “These judgments—especially when they come, as in the case of the Windham-Campbell, from anonymous distinguished literary people—are immensely enabling and consoling. They take away a little bit of the fear of writing, the fear of failing. Not all of it. Without some fear, you could never write anything any good at all.”

Archipelago published The Exploded View by Ivan Vladislavić (2015, fiction) in the U.S., and The New Yorker described it as “a startling collection … each protagonist in the four stories of The Exploded View is engaged in an effort to parse and pin down his post-apartheid nation; together, though, the stories suggest the fatuity of classification.”


Hilton Als (2017, nonfiction) curated Alice Neel, Uptown, an exhibition of “paintings and drawings Alice Neel (1900-1984) made during the five decades she spent living in Upper Manhattan, first in Spanish Harlem and later the Upper West Side.” David Zwirner Books/Victoria Miro, the two presenting galleries, published a beautiful catalogue documenting the exhibition.

Random House in the U.S. published Teju Cole's (fiction, 2014) Blind Spot, which invites the reader on a “journey through more than 150 of Cole’s [currently the photography critic for the New York Times Magazine] full-color original photos, each accompanied by his lyrical and evocative prose, forming a multimedia diary of years of near-constant travel: from a park in Berlin to a mountain range in Switzerland, a church exterior in Lagos to a parking lot in Brooklyn; landscapes and interiors, beautiful or quotidian, that inspire Cole’s memories, fantasies, and introspections. Ships in Capri remind him of the work of writers from Homer to Edna O’Brien; a hotel room in Wannsee brings back a disturbing dream about a friend’s death; a home in Tivoli evokes a transformative period of semi-blindness, after which “the photography changed… . The looking changed.”

In Australia, Helen Garner (2016, nonfiction) was the subject of A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work, by Bernadette Brennan, and also published Stories and True Stories, collected short fiction and nonfiction, respectively, spanning fifty years of work. All from Text Publishing.

Finally, our own Why I Write series launched this year with Devotion by Patti Smith. The series, which is published in collaboration with Yale University Press, is based on the annual Windham-Campbell Lectures. Look out for the next installment—an expanded version of Karl Ove Knausgård's 2017 lecture—in September.

We'll be back next month with a short list of plays to see in 2018, as well as recommendations for podcasts that illuminate the creative process.

All best,
The Windham-Campbell Prizes