Meyer, Graham to talk about Texas literature

Author Philipp Meyer.
Author Philipp Meyer.

Philipp Meyer, author of the Texas epic “The Son,” will talk about his years of research in writing the acclaimed novel with Texas literary scholar Don Graham at 7 p.m. Feb. 19.

The event, which is sponsored by the UT Michener Center for Writers and the Bullock Texas State History Museum, will take place at the Bullock, 1800 Congress Ave. at West MLK Boulevard.

The event is free and open to the public. It’s part of the Bullock Museum’s Texas Art and Culture Series.

Meyer is a former fellow at the Michener Center and was introduced to Texas novelists in a graduate seminar with Graham while earning his MFA.

Gwynne, Wiman named finalists for book awards

Austin author S.C. Gwynne
Austin author S.C. Gwynne

Austin’s S.C. “Sam” Gwynne, author of the best-selling “Empire of the Summer Moon,” has been named a finalist by the National Book Critics Circle for his Stonewall Jackson biography, “Rebel Yell.”

Christian Wiman, who grew up in West Texas, is a poetry finalist for “Once in the West.”

The 30 finalists were announced Tuesday, and will be given for the best autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, general nonfiction and poetry of 2014.

Winners will be announced on March 12 in New York. The awards are nominated and chosen by the group’s board of 24 critics and book review editors.

Three special awards will also be given: Toni Morrison will receive the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award; Phil Klay’s story collection “Redeployment” (Penguin Press) will get the John Leonard Prize for a best first book in any genre. (Klay also won the National Book Award). And the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing will go to Alexandra Schwartz, an assistant editor at The New Yorker.

Here’s a list of the finalists.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Blake Bailey, “The Splendid Things We Planned” (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Roz Chast, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” (Bloomsbury)

Lacy M. Johnson, “The Other Side” (Tin House)

Gary Shteyngart, “Little Failure” (Random House)

Meline Toumani, “There Was and There Was Not” (Metropolitan Books)

BIOGRAPHY

Ezra Greenspan, “William Wells Brown: An African American Life” (W.W. Norton & Co.)

S.C. Gwynne, “Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson” (Scribner)

John Lahr, “Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh” (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Ian S. MacNiven, “Literchoor Is My Beat: A Life of James Laughlin, Publisher of New Directions” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Miriam Pawel, “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez” (Bloomsbury)

CRITICISM

Eula Biss, “On Immunity: An Inoculation” (Graywolf Press)

Vikram Chandra, “Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty” (Graywolf Press)

Claudia Rankine, “Citizen: An American Lyric” (Graywolf Press)

Lynne Tillman, “What Would Lynne Tillman Do?” (Red Lemonade)

Ellen Willis, “The Essential Ellen Willis,” edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz (University of Minnesota Press)

FICTION

Rabih Alameddine, “An Unnecessary Woman” (Grove Press)

Marlon James, “A Brief History of Seven Killings” (Riverhead Books)

Lily King, “Euphoria” (Atlantic Monthly Press)

Chang-rae Lee, “On Such a Full Sea” (Riverhead Books)

Marilynne Robinson, “Lila” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

GENERAL NONFICTION

David Brion Davis, “The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation” (Alfred A. Knopf)

Peter Finn and Petra Couvee, “The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Book” (Pantheon)

Elizabeth Kolbert, “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” (Henry Holt & Co.)

Thomas Piketty, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer (Belknap Press/Harvard University Press)

Hector Tobar, “Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle that Set Them Free” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

POETRY

Saeed Jones, “Prelude to Bruise” (Coffee House Press)

Willie Perdomo, “The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon” (Penguin Books)

Claudia Rankine, “Citizen: An American Lyric” (Graywolf Press)

Christian Wiman, “Once in the West” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Jake Adam York, “Abide” (Southern Illinois University Press)

McCracken a finalist for Story Prize

Austin writer Elizabeth McCracken is one of three finalists for the $20,000 Story Prize for her collection, “Thunderstruck.”

McCracken, who teaches at the University of Texas and the Michener Center for Writers, will be up against Francesca Marciano, author of “The Other Language,” and Lorrie Moore, author of “Bark.”

Judges for the contest are Arsen Kashkashian, a Boulder, Colorado, bookseller; Noreen Tomassi, director of the Center for Fiction; and Laura van den Berg, an author. The awards ceremony will be held at 7:30 p.m. March 4 at the New School in New York.

The winner gets $20,000, while the two runners-up get $5,000.

Austin author Elizabeth McCracken.
Austin author Elizabeth McCracken.

UT gives reasons for keeping Garcia Marquez archive price secret

In a new letter to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the University of Texas argues that the release of the purchase price of the recently acquired archive of Latin American literary giant Gabriel Garcia Marquez should be kept secret because its disclosure would put the university’s Harry Ransom Center “at a disadvantage in negotiating advantageous prices on future acquisitions.”

“This is particularly true when the Center acquires the archive of a major figure for a substantial sum,” the letter says. “The release of that price information becomes a new benchmark by which future archives are valued.”

The American-Statesman and the Associated Press requested the price of the archive when the purchase was announced in November. In the past, the university has provided such information, and the resistance in the case of the Garcia Marquez archive is unusual. As reported in earlier stories, the price for the archive could well exceed $1 million.

The university also revealed Wednesday that it had erred in not informing Garcia Marquez’s widow of the requested information, and it asked the attorney general’s office to consider “any other arguments submitted by the third party regardless of our error.”

The attorney general’s office is expected to make a ruling on the request in early 2015.

Trinity University Press acquires Maverick Publishing

Trinity University Press of San Antonio announced today that it has acquired the assets of Maverick Publishing Company, founded by former newspaperman Lewis F. Fisher.

Trinity said that in early 2015 it will launch a new imprint, Maverick Books, which will include the backlist of Maverick titles as well as new titles focusing on the history and culture of Texas and the Southwest. Fisher will work with Trinity as an editorial adviser.

Trinity will begin distribution of more than 40 Maverick titles in January, with new editions slated for Maverick backtitles, as well as digital versions of those books.

In a press release, Trinity’s associate director Thomas Payton said that the acquisition “sends a strong message that we are determined to be a preeminent publisher of books about Texas and the American Southwest as a complement to our other areas of international focus.”

Fisher started Maverick Publishing in San Antonio in 1996. His newest book, the updated and expanded edition of “American Venice: The Epic Story of San Antonio’s River,” is being published by Trinity in January.