Wednesday News: RNA Awards, RITA noms, and revisiting the Handmaid’s Tale
Winner announced for RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year Award – The Romantic Novelists’ Association awarded its award winners last week, in seven categories: Contemporary, Epic, Historical Romantic Novel, Paranormal or Speculative Romantic Novel, Romantic Comedy, RoNA Rose, and the Goldsboro Books Romantic Novel of the Year. Author and chef Prue Leith presented the awards, including the £5,000 awarded to Sophia Bennett’s YA book, Love Song, for Romantic Novel of the Year (she also won in the YA category). A full listing of the awards can be found at the link above, along with helpful short descriptions of the categories. For example, the Epic award goes to “novels containing serious issues or themes, including gritty, multi-generational stories,” while the Historical is for “novels set in a period before 1960.” Because, as we know, these categories are not universally self-defined.
A panel of independent judges read the seven category winners’ novels before meeting to debate the finer points of each book. The panel included Matt Bates, Fiction Buyer for WHSmith Travel; journalist and novelist Fanny Blake; Ron Johns, bookseller and publisher; and Caroline Sanderson, Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Worcester and Associate Editor for The Bookseller. . . .
Eileen Ramsay, Chairman of the RNA, said, “”This is the second year that a Young Adult novel has won the overall award, demonstrating the growing appeal of YA fiction. This wonderful story celebrates the sensitive treatment of first love. Huge congratulations to a very deserving winner!”
David Headley, Managing Director of Goldsboro Books, commented, “The diversity of this year’s winners, including for the first time, a self-published author, confirms romantic fiction as an exciting and still innovative genre, which continues to delight readers.” – Book Trade
RWA Announces 2017 Contest Finalists – While the RNA has announced their award winners, the RWA has announced their contest finalists for the following categories: First Book; Contemporary Romance: Long; Contemporary Romance: Mid-Length; Contemporary Romance: Short; Erotic Romance; Historical Romance: Short; Historical Romance: Long; Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance; Paranormal Romance; Romance Novella; Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements; Romantic Suspense; and Young Adult Romance. Golden Heart finalists were also announced for the following categories: Contemporary Romance; Contemporary Romance: Short; Historical Romance; Paranormal Romance; Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements; Romantic Suspense; and Young Adult Romance. A full list of finalists can be found at the link above.
Romance Writers of America (RWA), the trade association for romance fiction authors, announces the finalists for the 2017 RITA® and Golden Heart® Awards today, March 21. The RITA — the highest award of distinction in romance fiction — recognizes excellence in published romance novels and novellas. The Golden Heart recognizes excellence in unpublished romance manuscripts.
Award winners will be announced on July 27 at the 2017 RWA Conference in Orlando, Florida.
Congratulations to the finalists! – RWA Blog
Prue Leith: I don’t like being confined to ‘romance’ shelf – I like the way Prue Leith articulates the marginalization of Romance as a function of marginalizing women writers. Her assertion that the perception of inferiority or, perhaps more specifically, of frivolity, will not be truly challenged until there is a critical mass of men writing in the genre is probably correct, but it also demonstrates the gender-based prejudice that drives the stubborn perception that because a book focuses on romance it is non-literary somehow.
“Nobody says Shakespeare is a romantic novelist or that Jane Austen is a romantic novelist.
“And they never say men are romantic novelists. Sebastian Faulks, Ian McEwan – they write wonderful love stories, or stories about relationships and love, and you never find Ian McEwan on the romantic shelf.
“I don’t like being confined to the romantic shelf, but I thoroughly approve of what romantic novelists do. . . .
“The Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) does try to show that this is literature, like anything else. We’re just women who write about relationships.” – Belfast Telegraph
Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale, One Month Into the Trump Era – And speaking of the marginalization of women, here is a reminder that The Handmaid’s Tale will be airing in television form on Hulu next month, a prescient venture given the fact that it was underway before the recent U.S. presidential election. It’s hard to believe that Atwood’s book was written more than 30 years ago, but thinking about the presidency of Ronald Reagan, and the backlash against second wave feminism, in particular, it’s not difficult to see how the pendulum has made a hard right yet again.
Margaret Atwood, who is Canadian, published The Handmaid’s Tale, set in what we’re to understand was formerly the state of Massachusetts, in 1985. Atwood has said that one of her rules for writing it was that she “couldn’t put anything into the novel that human beings hadn’t actually done” and it is bracing to understand as an adult — as I didn’t, really, on my first read — that everything in the book, from public executions and forced births and separation of mothers from children, to the public shaming and banishment and physical punishment of non-conforming women, has historical roots in America, from slavery to Salem.
The years in which Atwood was writing her book were the ones in which conservative politics had joined forces with religious fundamentalism to elect Ronald Reagan, and the cultural attitudes toward the women’s movement of the late-20th century had chilled into a frozen tundra of anti-feminist sentiment. The messages of the 1980s, many of which would be collected in Susan Faludi’s 1992 book Backlash, were often about the perceived costs of women’s liberation: the dropping birthrate, the miserable and loveless career women, single mothers of color as welfare queens, men under attack. . . .
And yet there’s no question that reading about Atwood’s imagined dystopia is far scarier today than it was, I suspect, for adults living in 1985, perhaps in part because the anger at those stubbornly standing in the way of white male dominance is even more intense. In Texas last week, during testimony from a young University of Texas student who is also an intern at NARAL, an anti-abortion legislator became so enraged that he shattered the glass table on which he was pounding his gavel. If Atwood had written such a ridiculously apt metaphor, it wouldn’t have been believable. – New York Magazine