We are pleased to announce the winner of the 2015 Les Figues Press NOS (not otherwise specified) Book Contest, as selected by guest judge lê thi diem thúy:
About Irradiated Cities, lê thi diem thúy writes:
“Early on in irradiated cities we encounter this sentence, tucked in a parenthetical: “(it always seems to be clear on catastrophic days).”
Catastrophe wipes away certainty and tips us all into a state of ‘seems,’ of looking at one thing in the changed light of another, of seeing a landscape in relation to what it no longer holds, of recognizing the human face within the seemingly limitless horror of what humans are capable of inflicting on ourselves and our environment.
This book, a sifting and circling, a calm and masterful layering of voices and vantage points, a slowly emerging portrait of four different Japanese cities and their inhabitants, resists any effort at arrivals or conclusions. By doing so, it shows us that while we may have an accumulation of facts for what happened on a particular day in a particular place, perhaps even the names and words and pictures of the people to whom catastrophe struck, and would not let go, it is within the dark sedimentation and the feather-light drift of history that we might glean what yet remains, and gives off light, to summon and trouble us still.”
Irradiated Cities will be published in early 2017. Having grown up in Europe and America, Mariko Nagai studied English, with a concentration in poetry, at the New York University where she was the Erich Maria Remarque Fellow. She has received Pushcart Prizes both in poetry and fiction (nominated five times in total) and has received fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries for the Arts, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Yaddo, and Hawthornden International Writers Retreat, to name a few. Her works have appeared in Pushcart Prize anthologies, Best Pushcart Poetry of the Last 30 Years, New Letters, The Gettysburg Review, Southern Review, Asia Literary Review, Drunken Boat, Prairie Schooner, amongst others. She is the author of Histories of Bodies: Poems (Red Hen Press, 2007), Georgic: Stories (BkMk Press/University of Missouri Kansas City, 2010), Instructions for the Living (WordPalace Press, 2012) and Dust of Eden: A Novel (Albert Whitman & Co, 2014). Vietnamese and Romanian translations of Georgic: Stories were released in 2015. Her own work has been translated into Chinese, Vietnamese, French, Bulgarian, Romanian and German. She currently lives in Tokyo and is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Japanese Literature at Temple University Japan Campus.
Ken White is a poet and screenwriter who divides his time between Montana and Southern California and teaches Screenwriting in the MFA program at Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. He co-wrote and co-produced the feature film Winter in the Blood; his current projects include a screen adaptation of Debra Earling’s novel Perma Red, which he will direct, and Stolen, co-adapted with the book’s author Lucy Christopher. He has written or co-written ten feature scripts, including Blight, The Wereman, adaptations of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther and the medieval Irish epic The Cattle Raid of Cooley, as well as a new horror script, The Orpheum Circuit, and a television pilot, LIT, with James Meetze. His poetry has appeared in The Boston Review, The Tusculum Review, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Versal, and Manor House Quarterly, Spork, and Poets.org among others. He is the author of one book of poems, Eidolon (Peel Press 2013).
Congratulations to each of the 2015 NOS Contest Finalists (listed in alphabetical order by author name):
- Tree Talks: Southern Arizona | Wendy Burk
- GALL | E.G. Cunningham
- DEUS ABSCONDITUS AND LOVE LETTERS FROM OUTER SPACE | Brandi George and Michael Barach
- Assumptions We Might Make About the Postworld | Katharine Haake
- Reading Nana | Sharon Kivland
- Field Poetics | Kristen Kreider
- It Was Human | Jenn Marie Nunes
- Ifenne | Jill Okpalugo-Nwajiaku
- Braided Sand Country | Adam Strauss
- kochanie i bought bread | Uljana Wolf, translated by Greg Nissan