Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, has won the first-ever John Leonard Prize, the National Book Critics Circle announced yesterday. Marra’s novel, set in war-torn Chechnya, was singled out for the new award, created this year to honor a debut work in any genre. The organization also named thirty finalists in six additional categories, from criticism to fiction. Among the contenders are Alexander Hemon, Rebecca Solnit, Jesmyn Ward, Hilton Als, Jonathan Franzen, Janet Malcolm, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Javier Marías, Donna Tartt, George Packer, and Lawrence Wright. The awards ceremony will be held on March 13 at the New School in New York.
On the topic of honors, George Saunders, Rebecca Lee, and Andrea Barrett are the finalists for this year’s Story Prize, a ten-year-old award that recognizes excellence in short fiction.
Gillian Flynn’s gothic blockbuster novel Gone Girl is set to become movie this fall, and Flynn has reportedly rewritten the ending to make it more Hollywood friendly. When asked about the changes, Flynn says, “There was something thrilling about taking this piece of work that I’d spent about two years painstakingly putting together with all its eight million Lego pieces and take a hammer to it and bash it apart and reassemble it into a movie.”
Previously written off for confusing fact and fiction in his memoir A Million Little Pieces, James Frey has reportedly sold a new book (for young adults) and landed a film deal (for which he will write a screenplay) worth more than $2 million.