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April 10 – April 17, 2008 Edition
Novel Award Winner
NEW YORK, NY/4/7/08–Amazon.com, Inc., Penguin Group (USA) and HP named Bill Loehfelm the winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, the contest in search of the next popular novel. The winner, who will receive a $25,000 publishing contract, was revealed in a ceremony in New York City this morning attended by Elizabeth Gilbert, the New York Times-bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love. Gilbert was among the panel of publishing experts who read and commented on the work of the Top 10 Finalists.
About Loehfelm's novel, Fresh Kills, she said: "Fresh Kills quickly expands past itself, blows away its limiting genre boundaries, and becomes a story of real psychological complexity and emotional realism." The other members of the panel included: literary critic John Freeman, former President of the National Book Critics' Circle; literary agent Eric Simonoff, Co-Director of Janklow & Nesbit Associates; and Publisher Amy Einhorn, of Amy Einhorn Books. Eric Simonoff praised Fresh Kills's "fully rendered characters, crackling dialogue, and profound sense of place," and said of the winner, "Loehfelm is unquestionably the real thing." Fresh Kills is a noir mystery that evokes lower-middle-class life in a bleak town on Staten Island, and its famous garbage dump, Fresh Kills. The novel will be published by the G. P. Putnam's Sons imprint of Penguin Group (USA) in Summer 2008, and is available now for pre-order on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/abnawinner.
Bill Loehfelm survived the wrath of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and returned to his beloved New Orleans in October of that year. He currently tends bar at Lucy's Retired Surfers Bar by night, and wrote Fresh Kills during the day. Loehfelm said that writing Fresh Kills gave him a purpose and a schedule that allowed him to return to what he calls "the new normal" when he moved back to New Orleans. Born in Brooklyn, he arrived in New Orleans in 1997. He is a former high school English teacher.
Susan Petersen Kennedy, President of Penguin Group (USA), said, "After much anticipation, readers everywhere have voiced their opinions and we are pleased to have the opportunity to publish Bill Loehfelm's novel Fresh Kills. Bill is a fresh voice to add to our group of talented writers."
"This is an exciting day both for Bill Loehfelm and Amazon.com customers," said Russell Grandinetti, vice president of books for Amazon.com. "Today's result of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is just the beginning of a new kind of collaboration, where readers and our customers have a more direct influence over which books come to market. We look forward to making the winning novel they have chosen, Fresh Kills, available to them."
"Internet sites like Amazon.com and book-on-demand technologies like the HP Indigo presses Amazon uses are enabling new ways to find authentic, resonant literary perspectives, such as what Bill Loehfelm offers in his winning novel," said Rich Raimondi, vice president and general manager, U.S. Graphic Arts Organization, HP. "HP's 'What Do You Have to Say' marketing campaign is all about creative self-expression, so we are excited that this contest has been such a success."
In Fresh Kills, the murder of John Sanders, Sr. on a New York street corner reunites his estranged and abused children John, Jr., and Julia. While Julia struggles to keep things together on the home front, Junior, unhinged by his father's death, searches for the killer across the bleak, haunted landscape of his Staten Island hometown. With emotional intensity, crackling dialogue and a heartfelt sense of place and character, Fresh Kills delivers unexpected and profound insights that speak to the soul of its struggling hero, and heralds a breakthrough voice in fiction.
The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, sponsored by Amazon Services LLC, Penguin Group (USA), HP, and CreateSpace, launched on October 1, 2007 and received nearly 5,000 qualified submissions, with representation from approximately 2,000 cities around the world and in every state in the United States. All submissions were first read by Amazon.com Top Reviewers — individuals recognized for the high quality and frequency of their comments on the site — who generated over 10,000 ratings in selecting 836 submissions to advance to the next round. Publishing trade magazine Publishers Weekly reviewed the full manuscripts of each submission. Based on these reviews and the feedback from Amazon Reviewers, editors from Penguin Group (USA) narrowed the field to 100 semi-finalists. Penguin Group (USA)'s editorial staff read and evaluated each of the semi-finalist entries, ultimately selecting the Top 10 finalists. Amazon.com customers chose the grand prize winner by going to http://www.amazon.com/abna to read, rate and review excerpts of the finalists' submissions. The winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award was announced on April 7, 2008.
The grand prize winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award receives a publishing contract from Penguin Group (USA), which includes a $25,000 advance. In addition, HP will provide the winning author with an entertainment technology package that will include an HP 42-inch Plasma TV, HP Pavilion Ultimate PC, HP Pavilion Notebook, HP LaserJet All-in-One and HP Photosmart Digital Camera. All runner-up finalists will be offered a "Total Design Freedom" BookSurge self-publishing package worth $2,400.