Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winner of 2011 Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction

Julie Otsuka's The Buddha in the Attic (Knopf) is the winner of the Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction for 2011. 

From the press release:  "This short, poetic book describes the experience of the Japanese 'picture brides' who were brought over in the very early part of the 20th century to marry Japanese men working in the United States, mostly as farm laborers. The writing is beautiful, and, although the book is sparse, each word carries weight."

Geraldine Brooks' Caleb's Crossing (Viking) was named an Honorable Mention:

"The mid-seventeenth century Massachusetts of Martha’s Vineyard and Cambridge provide the settings for this exquisitely and lushly written novel that explores the clash of cultures between the Puritans and the native Wampanoag inhabitants."

Five novels received a Director's Mention this year, which reflects and recognizes the number of quality submissions the award received from small and regional presses.  They are as follows:

John M. Archer, After the Rain: A Novel of War and Coming Home (Ten Roads Publishing): Following the Civil War, a wounded Union officer returns home, plagued by guilt over his comrades' deaths.

James Hoggard, The Mayor’s Daughter (Wings Press): In small-town Texas during the 1920s oil boom, a young woman and her family sit at odds over her choice of husband.

Hugh Nissenson, The Pilgrim (Sourcebooks): A Calvinist arrives in Massachusetts from England in 1622 and is consumed by spiritual conflict.

Sheila Ortiz-Taylor, Homestead (Spinsters Ink): A large lower middle-class family undergoes change in 1920s and 1930s Florida and Georgia.

Shirley Reva Vernick, The Blood Lie (Cinco Puntos Press): In this young adult novel, based on an actual incident in 1920s small-town upstate New York, a young Jewish boy is accused of murdering a young girl, who had become lost but was quite alright, for the use in supposed religious ceremonies.

For more details on these titles as well as the awards submission process, see the Langum Charitable Trust website.  Descriptions for these titles are based on the press release.


  1. I'm bookmarking this page because I want to read all of these books eventually. I have seen mixed reviews of The Buddha in the Attic though, lots of people don't like the collective voice?

  2. It sounds like an interesting technique, though it's probably not for people who don't care for literary fiction. I haven't read it but will have to give it a try. Most of the titles who got a Director's Mention I haven't heard of before. Nice to see them getting some added publicity this way.

  3. I'm fascinated by the number of books set in the 20's and 30's. That period before the war is very rich, and in a melancholy way, similar to our time.