March 11 – March 18, 2010 Edition

Barnes & Noble Names Winners of Discover Great New Writers

NEW YORK, NY/AUTHORLINK NEWS/03/11/10–Barnes & Noble Inc. last week named playwright Victor Lodato’s haunting debut novel, Mathilda Savitch (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), and Dave Cullen’s meticulously researched work on the Colorado tragedy, Columbine (Twelve), winners of the 2009 “Discover Great New Writers Awards,” for fiction and non-fiction, respectively. Each writer was awarded a cash prize of $10,000, and a full year of marketing and merchandising support from the bookseller.

Barbara Johnson’s short-story collection More of This World or Maybe Another (HarperPerennial), set in the less-trafficked parts of New Orleans, and Toby Lester’s fascinating cartographic history, The Fourth Part of the World (Free Press), took second place honors, each receiving $5,000. Kentuckian C. E. Morgan’s debut novel All the Living (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), a moving tale of the costs of commitment, and Neil White’s memoir In the Sanctuary of Outcasts (William Morrow), the story of his experience in a prison-cum-leper colony in Louisiana, won third-place honors, each receiving $2,500. The awards were presented this afternoon at a private ceremony in New York.

Mathilda Savitch, Victor Lodato’s first novel, is the tale of a grief-stricken family in the wake of their eldest daughter’s death. The adolescent narrator, Mathilda, fails to comprehend the full measure of such

a loss, and is hurt by her parents’ emotional retreat. In her own precocious way, Mathilda prefers to find her own resolution to the tragedy, placing herself in dubious positions as she does. Jurist David Schickler offered the following comment on the prizewinner, “In an era when so many voices speak purely to make profit or sense out of life, it is a refreshing deliverance to hear the voice of Mathilda Savitch, whose take on things is young, irrational, and unexpected… and who shines with a hilarious, heartbreaking humanity.”

Writers participating in this year’s fiction jury panel included novelist Kathryn Harrison, the author of numerous books including her bestselling memoir, The Kiss; Stewart O’Nan, the author of a dozen novels, two works of non-fiction, and a play; and fiction writer David Schickler, who penned Kissing in Manhattan and Sweet and Vicious.

The non-fiction winner, Columbine, is journalist Dave Cullen’s surprising account of the high school massacre, which took him 10 years to complete. Non-fiction jurist Rachel Simon had these words for the prizewinner, “[Cullen] took a story that all Americans think we know… and showed us that everything we thought we understood was wrong…. His tenacious research and his dazzling ability to keep me turning the pages have produced a first book that’s on another order of magnitude from the first books I’ve read in years.”

Writers on the non-fiction jury panel included memoirist and novelist Lee Martin, whose novel The Bright Forever was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; memoirist Danielle Trussoni, whose first novel, Angelology, will be published next week; and Rachel Simon, a novelist and memoirist whose works include the bestseller, Riding the Bus with My Sister.

Twenty years ago, the Discover Great New Writers program debuted with the mission of highlighting the best new and undiscovered contemporary writers, and since its inception has introduced its customers to writers including Neil Gaiman, Elizabeth Gilbert, Khaled Hosseini, Kazuo Ishiguro, Cormac McCarthy, Jodi Picoult, and Michael Pollan, to name just a few of the nearly 2,000 writers who have benefited from the exposure the program offers.

The Discover Awards honor the works of exceptionally talented writers featured in the Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” program during the previous calendar year. In 2009, the Discover Great New Writers program featured the work of 58 previously unheralded fiction and non-fiction writers. Previous Discover Award winners include Eric Blehm, Tracy Chevalier, Joshua Ferris, David Guterson, Chang-rae Lee, and David Sheff.