South Pole Station Wins Lascaux Prize in Fiction

To my very great surprise (and when you see the list of finalists, you'll probably share my surprise), South Pole Station was awarded the Lascaux Prize in Fiction. I am so grateful for this unexpected honor. Below is the list of finalists. Do yourself a favor and head to your local indie bookstore and buy these novels.

The Finalists:

Mohsin Hamid, Exit West
Jim Naremore, The Arts of Legerdemain as Taught by Ghosts
Cornelia Nixon, The Use of Fame
Ronan Ryan, The Fractured Life of Jimmy Dice
Lynn C. Miller, The Day After Death
Anne Da Vigo, Thread of Gold
Robley Wilson, After Paradise

End of Year Lists

I had no expectation that South Pole Station would make any "Best of 2017" lists thanks to an extremely strong showing by debut and established novelists this year, but somehow the novel managed to end up on a few. I'm surprised but grateful that South Pole Station was included on the following end-of-year lists: Shelf Awareness Best Books of 2017, Pioneer Press' "Books from Minnesota Authors You'll Want On Your Holiday List," poet-novelist-critic Leah Angstman's Best Books of 2017 on The Coil; and Earther's list of most exciting environmental fiction of 2017.

 

"Ersatz Cafe Post-Climate Change Impact Menu"

Sometimes I think literary journals are single-handedly keeping the written word alive. I learned this weekend that one of those excellent journals, KYSO Flash, nominated my flash piece "Ersatz Cafe Post-Climate Change Impact Menu" for a Pushcart Prize. It's my second time being nominated. Maybe one of these days, a story of mine will take! 

"Ersatz Cafe Post-Climate Change Impact Menu"

First Impact Fiction, Part II

In August, I wrote a piece for LitHub called "Toward a New Climate Change Genre: First Impact Fiction," in which I described my own recent fiction about a climate-impacted United States as a version of "cli-fi" that deals in the first impacts of widespread climate change. As more books are published dealing with what is currently considered a speculative view of our world in the midst of climate change, the term is gaining some traction. Check out this excellent review in the Los Angeles Times of Maja Lunde's The History of Bees:

"...the tripartite structure also allows for what the novelist Ashley Shelby recently described as First Impact Fiction: fiction set in more or less the present day, which depicts “our shared world as the impacts of runaway climate change begin to make themselves known.”

At what point, I wonder, will "cli-fi" simply become "contemporary fiction." I'm afraid that day may not be as far off as we might hope. 

The Millions' Most-Anticipated

This is a long, fantastic list of books that should go straight to your to-read pile. I was lucky enough to see South Pole Station on the list. 

"Just when you think you’ve seen all the books, along comes a comedy of manners about climate change starring a ragtag team of cultural misfits at the edge of the world. Shelby’s novel grew out of a(n award-winning) short story, but its scope is capacious."

The Millions' Most-Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2017 Book Preview

LitHub and National Public Radio

I have the hardest working publicist in publishing. I received two more reviews over this holiday weekend, including one from critic Heller McAlprin out of WNYC. 

An excerpt from McAlprin's review: "Shelby's writing is pithy and funny, and her band of eccentrics are scrappy loners who are best suited to the company of other loners.... In this unusual, entertaining first novel, Ashley Shelby combines science with literature to make a clever case for scientists' and artists' shared conviction that "the world could become known if only you looked hard enough."*

* I'd like to point out that this review is not without its thoughtful criticisms of certain aspects of the book.

National Public Radio:"South Pole Station Takes a Cool Look at a Hot Topic"

LitHub highlighted South Pole Station as one of "16 Books You Should Read this July" and though I am way out of my league in terms of the other writers selected, you know I'll take this in a hot second:

"In this terrific debut, Ashley Shelby achieves not only that but also a grand sense of comedy. Her protagonist, Cooper Gosling, is a struggling painter, guilt-suffering daughter, and in the midst of finding her way after a family tragedy. When she’s offered the chance to join an artist colony at the South Pole, she figures an adventure is just what she needs to jump-start her life. What follows is a lovely, satirical, and emotionally complex novel about coming to terms with heartbreak and re-finding one’s self through art."

 

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Booklist Review

Booklist is geared toward librarians, and the reviews are mostly written by them as well, which is why I'm so thrilled to have received this thoughtful review from them!

"Cooper Gosling has passed the rigorous physical and psychological tests required to spend a year in Antarctica in the National Science Foundation's Artists and Writers program. A talented painter who, at 30, has not yet realized her potential, Cooper is recovering from a family tragedy and looking for escape. She finds herself integrating with a community that includes scientists, artists, builders, and support staff with wildly different personalities, each seeking or fleeing something. Drawn to Sal, a physicist intent on disproving the Big Bang theory and assisting a climate change denier with his research, Cooper finds herself at the center of an incident with long-range implications for the station and its inhabitants. Journalist Shelby's first novel eschews easy choices and treats interpersonal relations, grief, science, art, and political controversy with the same deft, humorous hand. Readers will find characters to love, suspect, and identify with among Cooper's fellow Polies and won't forget them easily. A good match for readers whose interest in Antarctica was sparked by Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette? (2014), those who enjoy stories about quirky individuals and made families, and extreme armchair travelers.

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Bookpage Review of South Pole Station

I cannot tell you how many issues of Bookpage I've flipped through on trips to the library. I'm so excited to see South Pole Station reviewed in its pages.

"Throughout witty, often hilarious scenarios, Shelby expertly weaves in the legitimate political and environmental concerns of climate change faced by the worldwide scientific community today. Shelby’s exploration of the human spirit continuously digs deeper, ever in search of answers to all of life’s important questions— scientific and otherwise." 

You can find the full review here.

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