10 January 2012

Indie Lit Awards: Memoir / Biography Short List

As I've mentioned many times a couple of times, I'm thrilled to be on the voting board for the 2011 Indie Lit Awards. In case you missed any of my announcements and don't know what these awards are, you can find information at the awards' blog

I'm serving on the panel for the biography and memoir category, and I'm pleased to announce this year's short list. As per the judging panel guidelines, I will not be posting about these books again until after the winners have been announced.

The Independent Literary Awards 2011: Biography/Memoir Short List

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Amy Chua
ISBN-13: 9780143120582 / Pe
nguin Group USA
An awe-inspiring, often hilarious, and unerringly honest story of one mother's exercise in extreme parenting, revealing the rewards-and the costs-of raising her children the Chinese way.

All decent parents want to do what's best for their children. What Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reveals is that the Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that. Western parents try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions and providing a nurturing environment. The Chinese believe that the best way to protect your children is by preparing them for the future and arming them with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua's iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, her way-the Chinese way-and the remarkable results her choice inspires.
Tina Fey

ISBN-13 9780316056878 / Hachette Group, Reagan Arthur Books
Before Liz Lemon, before Weekend Update, before Sarah Palin, Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.

She has seen both these dreams come true.

At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon--from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence. Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you boss.
I Pray Hardest When Being Shot At

Kyle Garret
ISBN-13 9781555716868 / Hellgate Press
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, eighteen-year-old Robert Stuart had a decision to make: keep working at the steel mill in Warren, Ohio, or volunteer to serve his country. Stuart's father had served in the first World War, and service was in his blood, so he enlisted in the Marines.

Anne Davis had a decision of her own to make. The girls in her high school were going to send letters to alumni who were going off to war. She looked at the list of soldiers and saw a familiar name: Robert Stuart.

The letters Anne sent would mark the beginning of a relationship that would span sixty years, two marriages, two children, and three wars.

Over half a century after those first letters were sent, the Stuarts' grandson, Kyle, began chronicling their life together. He would discover pieces of a family history that only he dug deep enough to learn. But in the back of his mind, one concern lingered: the story of a person's life can only have one ending, and his grandfather's health was deteriorating.

I Pray Hardest When I'm Being Shot At is a true story of love and war, of three generations and two romances, one of sixty years, the other of just a few months. Pray deals with one generation trying to connect with another and how it affected them both.
Little Princes
Conor Grennan
ISBN-13 9780061930065 / HarperCollins, William Morrow
In search of adventure, twenty-nine-year-old Conor Grennan traded his day job for a year-long trip around the globe, a journey that began with a three-month stint volunteering at the Little Princes Children’s Home, an orphanage in war-torn Nepal. Conor was initially reluctant to volunteer, unsure whether he had the proper skill, or enough passion, to get involved in a developing country in the middle of a civil war. But he was soon overcome by the herd of rambunctious, resilient children who would challenge and reward him in a way that he had never imagined. When Conor learned the unthinkable truth about their situation, he was stunned: The children were not orphans at all. Child traffickers were promising families in remote villages to protect their children from the civil war--for a huge fee--by taking them to safety. They would then abandon the children far from home, in the chaos of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.

For Conor, what began as a footloose adventure becomes a commitment to reunite the children he had grown to love with their families, but this would be no small task. He would risk his life on a journey through the legendary mountains of Nepal, facing the dangers of a bloody civil war and a debilitating injury. Waiting for Conor back in Kathmandu, and hopeful he would make it out before being trapped in by snow, was the woman who would eventually become his wife and share his life’s work.

Little Princes is a true story of families and children, and what one person is capable of when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. At turns tragic, joyful, and hilarious, Little Princes is a testament to the power of faith and the ability of love to carry us beyond our wildest expectations.
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

Nina Sankovitch
ISBN-13 9780061999840 / HarperCollins, Harper
Nina Sankovitch has always been a reader. As a child, she discovered that a trip to the local bookmobile with her sisters was more exhilarating than a ride at the carnival. Books were the glue that held her immigrant family together. When Nina's eldest sister died at the age of forty-six, Nina turned to books for comfort, escape, and introspection. In her beloved purple chair, she rediscovered the magic of such writers as Toni Morrison, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ian McEwan, Edith Wharton, and, of course, Leo Tolstoy. Through the connections Nina made with books and authors (and even other readers), her life changed profoundly, and in unexpected ways. Reading, it turns out, can be the ultimate therapy.

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair also tells the story of the Sankovitch family: Nina's father, who barely escaped death in Belarus during World War II; her four rambunctious children, who offer up their own book recommendations while helping out with the cooking and cleaning; and Anne-Marie, her oldest sister and idol, with whom Nina shared the pleasure of books, even in her last moments of life. In our lightning-paced culture that encourages us to seek more, bigger, and better things, Nina's daring journey shows how we can deepen the quality of our everyday lives--if we only find the time.
To see what books made the short lists for fiction, nonfiction, GLBTQ, mystery, poetry, and speculative fiction, visit the Indie Lit Awards blog.


Sabrina 1/10/12, 8:15 AM  

I haven't read any of those but Boosypants was in all peoples' mouths lately. I wonder what the shortlist for the other genres look like. I followed your link, but could not find them. Have you got any ideas where I might find them?

Beth F 1/10/12, 8:21 AM  

Sabrina: the link at the bottom of the post will take you right to the short lists. The link at the top of the post takes you to the Indie Lit home page -- just scroll down to see the lists.

bermudaonion 1/10/12, 9:09 AM  

I can't wait to see which book wins!

Daryl 1/10/12, 9:59 AM  

what a selection .. how hard it has to be to be a judge

caite 1/10/12, 10:13 AM  

but see, I have this issue with memoirs...

Barbara 1/10/12, 10:17 AM  

I loved Tolstoy and the Purple Chair but doubt it has very wide appeal. I must find Little Princess; it sounds wonderful.

Zibilee 1/10/12, 10:25 AM  

Ooh, all of these look wonderful, and I have had the chance to read a few. I am going to have to try to make time for some of the others on this list. They sound like they would be really amazing reads!

Andi 1/10/12, 11:13 AM  

GREAT short list! I've read a couple of these and enjoyed them. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is one I REALLY want to get to sooner than later. :)

Sandy Nawrot 1/10/12, 1:56 PM  

This is really an exciting list!!!

Col (Col Reads) 1/10/12, 2:37 PM  

I'm excited to see this list, as it's given me some ideas for non-fiction this year! Thanks!

Kyle Garret 1/10/12, 2:45 PM  

I have been bouncing off the walls since I found out I made this list! What fantastic company to be in.

My "to read" list is even more out of control than usual!

Booksnyc 1/16/12, 3:33 PM  

I am looking forward to judging this category with you and the others. It's great to be involved with the Indie Lit Awards.

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