CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y., April 19, 2013 — Chautauqua Institution is pleased to announce six outstanding books as the 2013 finalists for The Chautauqua Prize:


Short Nights of the
Shadow Catcher

Timothy Egan

Billy Lynn's Long
Halftime Walk

Ben Fountain

Presidents Club

Nancy Gibbs
and Michael Duffy

Devil in the Grove
Gilbert King

The Song of Achilles
Madeline Miller

The Names
of Things

John Colman Wood

  • Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan (HMH)
  • Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (Ecco)
  • The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy (Simon & Schuster)
  • Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King (HarperCollins)
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Ecco)
  • The Names of Things by John Colman Wood (Ashland Creek Press)

The winning book will be selected from this shortlist and announced in mid-May.

The Chautauqua Prize, now in its second year, is a national prize that celebrates a book of fiction or literary/narrative nonfiction that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and honors the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts. The author of the winning book will receive $7,500 and all travel and expenses for a one-week summer residency at CHQ, a not-for-profit educational and cultural center in southwestern New York state. For 2013, 125 books from 67 publishers were nominated for consideration.

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher is a nonfiction account of photographer Edward Curtis' early 20th-century quest to document the lives of 80 American Indian tribes. Chautauqua Prize readers described the book as "compelling" and "exhaustive," and noted that Egan "captures in language what Curtis expresses in photography."

In the novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, the eponymous character, a 19-year-old hero of the Iraq War, spends a day on parade at the annual Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving game and begins to understand difficult truths about himself, his country, his family and his brothers-in-arms. "Every sentence is worthy of attention," readers said, calling Fountain's writing "stylish" and "distinctive."

The Presidents Club is a history of the private relationships among modern American presidents — their backroom deals, rescue missions, secret alliances and enduring rivalries. Readers said Gibbs and Duffy's "handling of behind-the-scenes details is masterful."

Drawing from a wealth of never-before-published material, Devil in the Grove recounts the case of Florida's "Groveland Boys" and Thurgood Marshall's involvement, despite being on the verge of bringing the landmark suit Brown vs. Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court. Readers called the book "riveting," "engrossing" and "truly a book everyone should read."

The Song of Achilles, a novel built on the groundwork of the Iliad, follows the friendship of the awkward prince Patroclus and Achilles, "the best of all the Greeks," in a retelling of the Trojan War. "Miller weaves a remarkable classic of her own," readers said, describing the book as "touching" and "memorable."

In The Names of Things, an anthropologist left with many questions following the death of his wife returns to Africa to retrace steps he took with her years ago while living with camel-herding nomads. Readers called the book "compelling," "marvelous" and "extremely satisfying."

With a history steeped in the literary arts, Chautauqua Institution is the home of the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, founded in 1878, which honors nine outstanding books of fiction, nonfiction, essays and poetry every summer. Further literary arts programming at CHQ includes summer-long interaction of published and aspiring writers at the Chautauqua Writers' Center, the intensive workshops of the nationally recognized Chautauqua Writers' Festival, and lectures by prominent authors on the art and craft of writing.

The preeminent expression of lifelong learning in the United States, Chautauqua Institution is a 138-year-old community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. Over the course of nine weeks, more than 100,000 people visit CHQ and participate in programs, classes and community events for all ages — all within the beautiful setting of a historic lakeside village.