Colin Dwyer

In creative writing workshops, one maxim often gets passed around — so often, in fact, it can take on the weight of a commandment: "Show, don't tell." The idea, of course, is to convey emotion by depicting only what's happening, and to keep from spelling things out too much.

Kenzaburo Oe, it appears, has little regard for that advice.

Out of 1,032 books, only 18 remain.

Judges for the Kirkus Prize have whittled a vast list of eligible entrants down to just six finalists each in three categories: fiction, nonfiction and young readers' literature. The shortlists for the literary award, now in its second year, boast a healthy mix — between Americans and writers in translation, second-timers and old hands, headline-grabbers and small presses.

And that's not to mention the picture books.

It's not often that you'll get the National Book Awards confused for that other NBA, but at least in this respect they're the same: They don't go picking their winners lightly — or quickly. Since 2013, in a bid to raise its profile, the prestigious literary prize has been unveiling and then whittling its lists of nominees over multiple rounds, over multiple months.

The first of these rounds wrapped up Thursday, as the National Book Foundation rolled out its long list of 10 nominees for the fiction prize.

If you've opened a novel by Patrick DeWitt before, it ought to come as no surprise to find that a pivotal scene in his new one hinges on acts unprintable. That is, at least, as far as NPR's family-friendly website is concerned. If you haven't yet cracked one of his books, suffice to say the scene I'm referring to boasts violence, sloppy nudity, acts of lewdness — and one piece of cylindrical lunchmeat, alarmingly misused.

In the three decades that the National Medals of Arts have been awarded, the list of recipients has grown long and luminous. Ray Bradbury, Maya Angelou, Aretha Franklin, Frank Capra, Georgia O'Keeffe, even AT&T (and many, many more) — the artists and arts patrons who have earned the prize from the U.S. government are as hallowed in name as they are diverse in discipline.

This year, that list got a bit horrific.

Of the 85 works nominated for this year's Hugo Awards, one of science fiction's most prestigious prizes, a dozen walked away with wins. Among their number were hit series, household names and repeat recipients — but a day later, the winning entries getting the most attention have no names at all: In several of the categories, voters picked "No Award" instead of bestowing the prize on one of the nominees.

That strange result will be explained — as best it can be — in just a second.

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