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George Saunders Wins The Story Prize for Tenth of December
George Saunders has won The Story Prize for 2013 for his short story collection, Tenth of December. Saunders won the top prize of $20,000 as well as the winner's bowl. Saunders is pictured holding the winner's bowl here. The two runners-up, Andrea Barrett for Archangel and Rebecca Lee for Bobcat, each received $5,000.
This year's judges were Stephen Ennis, Director of the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin, author Antonya Nelson and Rob Spillman, editor of the literary magazine Tin House. Here is what the judges had to say about Tenth of December:
"This is a masterful short story collection. Full of formal innovations whose purpose is to illuminate character in new ways, these stories reveal the darkest parts of humanity while simultaneously giving us light and hope. They read like an indictment of our current condition but also as a timeless reflection on morality in a frequently unmoral world. The shifts in tone and point of view, sometimes within the same story, are dazzling. Craft, vision, and heart come together in an alchemical reaction creating a work of art that is much greater than the sum of its parts. At turns beautiful and heartbreaking, Tenth of December is destined to be a work of art that defines our times."
The Story Prize was established in 2004 by Julie Lindsey. It is underwritten by the Chisholm Foundation. You can learn more about the annual prize at thestoryprize.org.
Posted on March 9, 2014
College Board Removing Essay and Tough Vocabulary Words From SAT
The College Board is making major changes to the SAT. U.S. News reports that the SAT's mandatory essay will now be optional and scored separately. The vocabulary tests will also be revised and some of the more difficult and unusual words will be removed. U.S. News says the College Board wants to test words that "students will use consistently in college and beyond."
The College Board's website has information about the new test here. A comparison of the old SAT and new SAT tests can be found here. The site says the new test also has "no penalty for wrong answers" which means students can guess away on questions they don't know without harming their score. The score on the exam will return to the old maximum of 1600 instead of 2400. Most of the changes appear to make the new SAT easier, however students will only be allowed to use a calculator on certain portions of the math section. Previously, a calculator was allowed on the entire math section. The new test will arrive in Spring 2016.
The lack of a writing test is disconcerting, but a New York Times story on the SAT changes says the "required essay never entirely caught on with college admissions officers." Most colleges rely on their own college application essay which would-be students are required to write. They use this essay in combination with test scores and high school grades to evaluate potential students. CBS This Morning reports that 33 colleges no longer even require SAT exams. Fears this number could grow are one reason the College Board is revising the test. Take a look:
Posted on March 8, 2014
John Ridley Wins Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay
John Ridley won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for 12 Years a Slave at the 86th Academy Awards. The script was adapted from the memoir by Solomon Northup. Ridley is the second African-American to win the award.
In his acceptance speech, Ridley said, "All the praise goes to Solomon Northrup. Those were his words, that was his life." He also thanked the cast, the crew and Fox Searchlight. He said the film would not have happened without co-producer Jeremy Kleine.
There are rumors of a fued between Ridley and director Steve McQueen over the screenplay credits. Ridley did not thank McQueen in his acceptance speech, but he says he did not intentionally forget to mention the director. Ridley told the New York Post at Vanity Fair's after party, "I owe a lot to the genius of Steve McQueen, and I am forever grateful to have had the chance to work with him."
Photo: Bryan Crowe / ©A.M.P.A.S.
Posted on March 5, 2014
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Spike Jonez Wins Oscar for Best Original Screenplay
Spike Jonez won Best Original Screenplay for his script for the film, Her. Jonez also directed the film. This was his fourth Oscar nomination and his first Oscar win. Jonez also won the Golden Globe and WGA Award for the script. The other Oscar nominated screenplays include American Hustle, Blue Jasmin, Dallas Buyers Club and Nebraska.
Jonez thanked friends and family in his acceptance speech. The Hollywood Reporter says that backstage Jonez credited Charlie Kaufman and Dave Eggers as his screenwriting mentors. He said, "I don't think I could have written a screenplay when I was younger. I think it took me a long time to learn how to write."
Jonez was also asked whether or not he thought something like the operating system in Her would be possible in the future. Jonez said, "I don't know. I have no idea. I think anything is going to happen and everything is going to happen. I think we're 13 billion years into this universe and there's many more billion years after this, so who knows."
Photo: Todd Wawrychuk / ©A.M.P.A.S.
Posted on March 3, 2014
Author Philip Roth Says He Is Done Writing Fiction
Author Philip Roth says he is done writing fiction in an interview with Stanford University's The Book Haven. This is the second time he has said he is finished writing fiction. Roth has penned over two dozen novels in his career, including American Pastoral, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and The Human Stain which won the WH Smith Literary Award. He has also won the PEN/Faulkner award, Man Booker International Prize, National Book Award and many other literary honors.
In the interview, Cynthia Haven of The Book Haven, asks Roth, "You told Tina Brown in 2009, 'I wouldn't mind writing a long book which is going to occupy me for the rest of my life.' Yet, in 2012, you said emphatically that you were done with fiction. We can't bring ourselves to believe you've completely stopped writing. Do you really think your talent will let you quit?"
Roth says, "Well, you better believe me, because I haven't written a word of fiction since 2009. I have no desire to write fiction. I did what I did and it's done. There's more to life than writing and publishing fiction. There is another way entirely, amazed as I am to discover it at this late date."
Roth also mentioned what he does with his day now that he is not writing fiction. It sound like he is enjoying his retirement. Roth says, "I swim, I follow baseball, look at the scenery, watch a few movies, listen to music, eat well and see friends. In the country I am keen on nature. Barely time left for a continuing preoccupation with aging, writing, sex and death. By the end of the day I am too fatigued."
Posted on March 1, 2014