New and Noteworthy Books: March

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kentuckyclubBenjamin Alire Saenz’s story collection Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club, published by El Paso’s Cinco Puntos Press, has won the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. Read the Observer’s review of the book here.

Among the four runners-up for the prize was Amelia Gray’s THREATS, another book we reviewed at the Observer.

Dallas novelist Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk has won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. Steven Kellman reviewed the book in the Observer’s 2012 Books Issue, a version of which you can read here.

The NBCC Nonfiction award went to Robert Caro’s The Passage of Power, which former Observer managing editor Susan Smith-Richardson touched on in the same issue.

OleanderGirl_HRcoverOn March 19, Free Press published Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s new novel Oleander Girl. Divakaruni teaches in the Creative Writing department at the University of Houston. Anis Shivani reviewed her previous novel, One Amazing Thing, for the Observer.

Kevin Smokler, UT-Austin grad and member of the SXSW advisory board, recently published Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School. Described as a “refreshing and necessary call to reading,” the book offers fresh perspectives on classics that we once considered mere homework.

Robert Flynn’s Lawful Abuse is now available in paperback from San Antonio’s Wings Press. The book is labeled “A powerful indictment of America’s abandonment of human beings, and children in particular, in favor of corporations.”

On March 26, Penguin will publish A Map of Tulsa, Benjamin Lytal’s debut novel. The book is described as “The story of Jim Praley and Adrienne Booker: from the summer they fall in love amidst the art and music scene of late 90s Tulsa, to Jim’s bracing, unexpected homecoming years later.” Lytal has late-March appearances scheduled in Austin and Houston.

tyer-opportunitymontana-chapman(Shameless plug alert: March 26 is also the publication date of Observer managing editor Brad Tyer’s first book—Opportunity, Montana: Big Copper, Bad Water, and the Burial of an American Landscape—on Beacon Press. Publishers Weekly has some kind prepublication words about the book here.)

And finally, UT-Austin Michener Center fellow Domenica Ruta’s memoir With Or Without You, published late last month, has been earning rave reviews. The Boston Globe calls the book “bracingly funny and poignant,” and BUST calls it “valiant and heartbreaking.” Read a profile of the writer here.