• “The Narrow Road to the Deep North,” by Richard Flanagan (Australia), who spoke at the Australian embassy in Washington last week. This devastating novel is about the construction of the Death Railway during WWII. Flanagan’s late father was one of the thousands of POWs forced by the Japanese to work on the project in Thailand. Now touring the United States, Flanagan was awakened with the Booker news this morning at 3 a.m. “I am speechless in Seattle,” he said in a statement, “equal parts astonished and delighted.”
• “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves,” by Karen Joy Fowler (United States), who accepted the PEN/Faulkner Fiction Prize in Washington in May. Fowler’s novel tells the surprising story of a young woman who was raised for several years with a chimp as her sister. The story offers a strong argument against using animals as medical and psychological test subjects. Reached in Melbourne, Australia, where she’s currently traveling, Fowler said via email, “Very happy to be me today! It all seems a little surreal, but maybe that’s the champagne. What great company to be in! Am I exceeding today’s allotment of exclamation points?”
• “J,” by Howard Jacobson (Britain), who won the Booker Prize in 2010 for “The Finkler Question.” The publication of “J” has been moved up from March 2015 to Oct. 14 of this year.
• “The Lives of Others,” by Neel Mukherjee (Britain), will be published in the United States on Oct. 1.
• “How to be Both,” by Ali Smith (Britain), whose novels “Hotel World” (2001) and “The Accidental” (2005) were previously shortlisted for the Booker Prize. US publication of “How to be Both” has been moved up to Dec. 2.
The Man Booker changed its rules in 2013 to allow books by Americans — or any nationality — to be eligible for the prize, so long as they’re published in the United Kingdom and written in English.
The winner of the $80,000 prize will be announced Oct. 14 in London. Along with the cash, Booker winners typically sell several hundred thousand additional copies.
More good news: Louise Erdrich has been named winner of the 2014 PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. The prize is given biannually to an American author “whose scale of achievement in fiction, over a sustained career, places him or her in the highest rank of American literature.” Erdrich’s “The Round House” won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2012. She will receive the $25,000 PEN/Bellow award at a ceremony in New York on Sept. 29. This year’s judges were Edwidge Danticat, Zadie Smith and E.L. Doctorow, who recently won the American Fiction Prize at the National Book Festival in Washington.
And still more: Ursula K. Le Guin has been named winner of the National Book Foundation’s 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. She will receive this honor at the 65th National Book Awards ceremony in New York on Nov. 19.