Monday, September 22, 2014

Award and Film Roundup

The longlists for the National Book Award in fiction, nonfiction, young adult and poetry were announced along with the shortlist for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. In years' past, I've been more interested in the nonfiction picks, but this year, the fiction list is full of books I would read, led by Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See and John Darnielle's Wolf in White Van. Richard Powers' Orfeo managed to get on the longlist for both the National Book Award and the Man Booker Prize. On the nonfiction side, Ronald Rosbottom's When Paris Went Dark and Walter Isaacson's The Innovators stood out. For a look at the longlists, click here.

As for the Flaherty-Dunnan Prize, which honors excellence in fiction from a first-time writer, there are several books that caught my eye. Smith Henderson's Fourth of July Creek currently sits on my desk waiting to be read while Rene Denfeld's The Enchanted is on my to-be-read list. Tiphanie Yanique's Land of Love and Drowning and Matthew Thomas' We Are Not Ourselves, both of which received a lot of buzz earlier this year, also made the cut. I've heard a lot of good reviews for Yanique's novel. To see all the nominees, click here.

Meanwhile, there have been a flurry of film news stories. John Green adaptations are the rage right now in Hollywood after the success of The Fault in Our Stars. 20th Century Fox announced a reshuffling of its summer 2015 film slate, which included bumping Paper Towns up from July 31 to June 19, a sign of confidence from the studio. Also last week, Variety reported model Cara Delevingne won the lead role of Margo. In related news, Universal landed the film rights to Green's Let it Snow, a book of short stories set on Christmas Eve. Green co-authored the book with Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle.

Fox also greenlit the sequel to The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and set a Sept. 18, 2015 release date after the first film took the top spot at the box office with $32.5 million. Not a bad start at all. The other book adaptations that debuted this weekend, A Walk Among the Tombstones and This is Where I Leave You, did not fare as well given the relatively soft market right now.

Channing Tatum is set to produce a film version of Jason Padgett's memoir, Struck by Genius, which came out earlier this year. The film will be distributed by Sony. The story is of a man who suffers a brain injury but becomes a mathematical genius. More details here.

Deadline had a series of big scoops this past week. First up, Ang Lee will direct an adaptation of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk for TriStar as his next film. Based on Ben Fountain's 2012 novel, the story involves an army platoon at a Thanksgiving football game as part of a PR tour after a harrowing battle in Iraq. Lee wasn't the first name that came to my mind for this book, but he is an excellent director.

Second, Harlan Coben fans may finally see a book adaptation on the big screen. Deadline claims Universal is courting Liam Neeson, who is currently starring in A Walk Among the Tombstones, to take the lead role in Tell No One. Third, I mentioned in an article earlier this month claiming Kristen Wiig and Jessica Chastain were in talks for a role in Ridley Scott's adaptation of The Martian. Apparently, Kate Mara was offered a role in it as well.

Fourth, it looks like Tom Hanks has set his sights on his next HBO miniseries project. After the success of producing From the Earth to the Moon, Band of Brothers, John Adams and The Pacific, Hanks secured the rights to Factory Man, the Beth Macy book chronicling the Bassett (of Bassett furniture fame) family's fight against outsourcing. On a related note, Hanks is also producing the World War II adaptation of Donald Miller's Masters of the Air for HBO.

Disney's film version of Michael J. Tougias' book The Finest Hours added Ben Foster to the cast, joining Chris Pine (Star Trek) and Casey Affleck (The Ocean's Eleven trilogy). The book tells the story of Coast Guard efforts to rescue the crews of two oil tankers wrecked by a nor'easter storm. The film is slated for release next fall and is a project I'm really looking forward to. More details from Variety here.

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