Carlos Fuentes

On Saturday night a crowd of critics and authors gathered at WNYC’s hi-tech Jerome L. Greene Performance space, where the finalists for the 2010 NBCC awards were announced. (Afterwards, the conversations we overheard were mostly jokes about the shock of the novel Freedom making the cut, and compliments on the strength of the overall list.) Critic and editor Parul Sehgal was awarded the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, and Dalkey Archive Press won the Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement. The rest of the winners will be announced on March 10th, following two days of readings by the finalists. At the Daily Beast, NBCC president Jane Ciabattari explains the “rigorous, demanding, sometimes exhilarating, and often fraught” selection process.

The new issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review is a collaboration with the Charlottesville photography festival LOOK3, and will include an online supplement of multimedia photo projects. The VQR has also created a new website, Assignment Afghanistan, featuring journalist Elliott Wood’s work. VQR’s editor Ted Genoways says he hopes the journal’s web projects will “[Spark] a renaissance among a rising generation of storytellers by finding new audiences for their work and a new business model for publishing a magazine in the digital age.”

Rowan Somerville, whose novel The Shape of Her was the most recent winner of the Literary Review’s Bad Sex Award, explains why he went to England to accept the dubious honor: “The only way to stand up to bullies is facing them. The bad sex award is a publicity stunt by a struggling publication. These are people who feel there should not be sex in writing. . . . They hope to shame it out of existence by decontextualising sentences and holding them up to ridicule.” And yet Somerville says the award has helped his novel get some much-needed publicity: “I did National Public Radio in the US, and that’s 12 million listeners right there. There are so many books being published in the UK. You need something salient to stay out there.”

Tonight at the 92nd Street Y, author Carlos Fuentes will discuss his new novel, Destiny and Desire.