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Amazon.Com, Penguin Group (USA) and HP Name Bill Loehfelm Winner of Amazon Breakthrough Novel AwardPALO ALTO, Calif., April 7, 2008
Amazon.com, Penguin Group (USA) and HP named Bill Loehfelm the winner of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, the contest in search of the next popular novel. The winner, who will receive a $25,000 publishing contract, was revealed in a ceremony in New York City this morning attended by Elizabeth Gilbert, the New York Times-bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love.
Gilbert was among the panel of publishing experts who read and commented on the work of the Top 10 Finalists. About Loehfelm’s novel, Fresh Kills, she said: “Fresh Kills quickly expands past itself, blows away its limiting genre boundaries, and becomes a story of real psychological complexity and emotional realism.”
The other members of the panel included: literary critic John Freeman, former President of the National Book Critics’ Circle; literary agent Eric Simonoff, Co-Director of Janklow & Nesbit Associates; and Publisher Amy Einhorn, of Amy Einhorn Books. Eric Simonoff praised Fresh Kills’s “fully rendered characters, crackling dialogue, and profound sense of place,” and said of the winner, “Loehfelm is unquestionably the real thing.”
Fresh Kills is a noir mystery that evokes lower-middle-class life in a bleak town on Staten Island and its famous garbage dump, Fresh Kills. The novel will be published by the G. P. Putnam’s Sons imprint of Penguin Group (USA) in Summer 2008 and is available now for pre-order on Amazon.com at www.amazon.com/abnawinner.
Bill Loehfelm survived the wrath of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 and returned to his beloved New Orleans in October of that year. He currently tends bar at Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar by night and wrote Fresh Kills during the day. Loehfelm said that writing Fresh Kills gave him a purpose and a schedule that allowed him to return to what he calls “the new normal” when he moved back to New Orleans. Born in Brooklyn, he arrived in New Orleans in 1997. He is a former high school English teacher.
Susan Petersen Kennedy, President of Penguin Group (USA), said, “After much anticipation, readers everywhere have voiced their opinions and we are pleased to have the opportunity to publish Bill Loehfelm’s novel Fresh Kills. Bill is a fresh voice to add to our group of talented writers.”
“This is an exciting day both for Bill Loehfelm and Amazon.com customers,” said Russell Grandinetti, vice president of books for Amazon.com. “Today’s result of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is just the beginning of a new kind of collaboration between our customers and the publishing world where readers have a more direct influence over which books come to market. We look forward to making the winning novel they have chosen, Fresh Kills, available to Amazon customers.”
“Internet sites like Amazon.com and book-on-demand technologies like the HP Indigo presses Amazon uses are enabling new ways to find authentic, resonant literary perspectives, such as what Bill Loehfelm offers in his winning novel,” said Rich Raimondi, vice president and general manager, U.S. Graphic Arts Organization, HP. “HP’s ‘What Do You Have to Say’ marketing campaign is all about creative self-expression, so we are excited that this contest has been such a success.”
In Fresh Kills, the murder of John Sanders, Sr. on a New York street corner reunites his estranged and abused children John, Jr., and Julia. While Julia struggles to keep things together on the home front, Junior, unhinged by his father's death, searches for the killer across the bleak, haunted landscape of his Staten Island hometown. With emotional intensity, crackling dialogue and a heartfelt sense of place and character, Fresh Kills delivers unexpected and profound insights that speak to the soul of its struggling hero, and heralds a breakthrough voice in fiction.
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Penguin Group (USA) Inc. is the U.S. member of the internationally renowned Penguin Group. Penguin Group (USA) is one of the leading U.S. adult and children's trade book publishers, owning a wide range of imprints and trademarks, including Viking, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, The Penguin Press, Riverhead Books, Dutton, Penguin Books, Berkley Books, Gotham Books, Portfolio, New American Library, Plume, Tarcher, Philomel, Grosset & Dunlap, Puffin, and Frederick Warne, among others. The Penguin Group (http://www.penguin.com) is part of Pearson plc, the international media company.
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