A recent Lyons Press press release about an NBA non-fiction nominee had some lovely tidbits for writers:
Domingo Martinez Chosen As 2012 National Book Award Finalist For Literary Debut: The Boy Kings Of Texas: A Memoir
First-time author Martinez—whose manuscript was plucked from obscurity from a pile of unsolicited manuscripts—is included alongside four renowned journalists in the nonfiction category. All four of Martinez’s fellow finalists are Pulitzer Prize winners:
Anthony Shadid, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East (Houghton Mifflin);
Robert A. Caro, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4 (Knopf) (also a past National Book Award winner)
Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (Random House);
Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956 (Doubleday).
Says author Martinez: “My phone started glowing around 6 a.m. My first thought was, ‘Wow; those bill collectors are starting much earlier nowadays,’ and I ignored it because I didn’t recognize the number, until it went off again about five minutes later and it was my agent, Alice [Martell].
Alice doesn’t mess around: When she calls, it’s important, so I answered. I depend on her to translate most of what happens in this business because I’m so new at it. I mean, I know the National Book Award, but it just wasn’t computing that I was A FINALIST for THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD. What’s really funny is, when you read through that list, it’s almost like there should be question marks behind my name, like ‘Who the hell is this guy??’ ”
Partly a reflection on the culture of machismo and partly an exploration of the author's boyhood spent in his sister’s hand-me-downs, THE BOY KINGS OF TEXAS delves into the enduring and complex bond between Martinez and his deeply flawed but fiercely protective older brother, Daniel, and features a cast of memorable characters—including his gun-hoarding former farmhand Gramma and “the Mimis,” two of his older sisters who for a short, glorious time, manage to transform themselves from poor Latina adolescents into upper-class white girls. In telling his story, Martinez provides a real glimpse into a society where children are traded like commerce, physical altercations routinely solve problems, drugs are rampant, sex is often crude, and people depend on the family witch doctor for advice. The book was published in July 2012.
“When I acquired this book, I knew I had something truly extraordinary in my hands,” said Lyons Press editor Lara Asher. “Domingo is a gifted writer and a phenomenal storyteller and someone that I deeply admire. I am delighted to see him receive the recognition for his talent that he so deserves.”
The judges for this year’s National Book Award for nonfiction are acclaimed writers Brad Gooch, Linda Gordon, Woody Holton, Susan Orlean, and Judith Shulevitz.
Former winners of this award for nonfiction include Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, Tom Wolfe, Henry Kissinger, and David McCullough. The 2012 National Book Award winners will be announced November 14 at a ceremony in New York.