While East Coasters are still willing winter away, those in sunny California are busying themselves with much more important (and exciting) matters — like book prizes! The L.A. Times announced on Wednesday 50 finalists recognized for their works in 10 categories. Included in the list are some familiar figures: David Finkel, John Grisham, J.K. Row...excuse me, I mean Robert Galbraith, along with some fresh faces like Rainbow Rowell and Fiona McFarlane. While the nominees wait to hear the results, two authors are guaranteed to take home prizes: John Green and Susan Straight.
Winning the Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement is Susan Straight, creative writing professor at the University of California and acclaimed author of novels and short stories such as Between Heaven and Here and Highwire Moon, for which she earned a National Book Award nomination. Times book critic David L. Ulin notes that with many of her works set in Rio Seco, fictionalized version of her hometown of Riverside, Straight has "opened up not just California Literature but American literature to the Inland Empire and to the often-neglected voices of the people there."
And what can we say about John Green. Here's some stuff you might not know about him: Not only is he the bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars (gracing silver screens across the world this coming June), but he's being recognized for his use of online media as a tool for public engagement with the Innovator's Award. In partnership with his brother, Hank, Green launched the Project for Awesome, an annual online event in which people can post videos advocating for charities that "decrease the overall level of world suck." This past December alone, the Green brothers raised more than $400,000 during the two day event. Showing no signs of slowing down, Green and his wife Sarah have created The Art Assignment (launching today!), a video series with PBS Digital Studios aimed at "exposing new audiences to art" through social media.
The award ceremony will take place in April. Take a peek at the complete list of L.A. Times Book Prize finalists.