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    new england literary news | nina maclaughlin

    Marzano-Lesnevich’s book wins French prize; Grolier moves to become a charity

    Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich’s 2017 work was awarded the France Inter-JDD foreign book prize.
    Alex Mancini
    Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich’s 2017 work was awarded the France Inter-JDD foreign book prize.

    More accolades for ‘The Fact of a Body’

    Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich’s cross-genre work of autobiography and true crime, “The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir’’ (Flatiron), published in 2017, has garnered a number of accolades and awards (a Lambda Literary Award, Chautauqua Prize, a Guardian best book of the year) for its elegance, intelligence, and excavation into the author’s experience with sexual abuse and the murder of a six-year-old boy named Jeremy in Louisiana.

    Marzano-Lesnevich, who recently moved from Boston to Portland, Maine, to become an assistant professor of English at Bowdoin, just added another big prize. It was announced last week that the book has been awarded the France Inter-JDD foreign book prize. That edition was translated into the French by Héloïse Esquié and published by Sonatine. The annual prize is awarded to one book from around world, in any genre. Paul Auster took the prize last year for “4321’’ (Henry Holt).

    Grolier seeks new status

    The storied Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Harvard Square is banking on a little more help from its friends for its long-term survival. Ifeanyi Menkiti, a poet and Wellesley College professor, took over in 2006 and a few years later established the nonprofit Grolier Poetry Foundation and Forums Trust, a private operating foundation with most of the funding coming from him. Now the 79-year-old Menkiti, who retired from Wellesley in 2014, says the foundation has applied to the IRS to become a public charity. This means it will be able to cast its net more widely with events, grants, and donations — among them, hopefully, from large publishing houses, which may be willing to give books and broaden the distribution of Grolier Poetry Press collections. A fund-raiser is planned for Jan. 25 to benefit the Grolier foundation, with readings, discussion, and a reception with Pulitzer Prize winner Peter Balakian and poet and senior editor of New York Review of Books Susan Barba. The event will take place at 7 p.m. in the Mount Vernon Ballroom at the Sheraton Commander in Cambridge Tickets are $100 and more information can be found

    Eisenhower’s ‘Mystery Man’


    Robert Cutler, a Bostonian and the first person to hold the position of national security adviser, lived a deeply private life, one that his great-nephew, Peter Shinkle, shines new light on in the book “Ike’s Mystery Man: The Secret Lives of Robert Cutler” (Steerforth), out last month. Cutler was a gay man in the Eisenhower administration amid the purges of McCarthyism and the anti-homosexual “Lavender Scare.” Indeed, Cutler helped steer the writing of Eisenhower’s infamous Executive Order 10450, which forbade “sexual perverts” — by which it meant gays — from working in the federal government. Shinkle’s illuminating biography is a love story, albeit an agonizing one and one that reveals a singular character in American Cold War history. Shinkle will read and discuss the book on Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge.

    Coming out

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    “We Cast a Shadow’’ by Maurice Carlos Ruffin (One World)

    “Castle on the River Vistula’’ by Michelle Tea (McSweeney’s McMullens)

    “Hear Our Defeats’’by Laurent Gaudé, translated from the French by Alison Anderson (Europa)

    Pick of the week

    Maeve Noonan at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vt., recommends “Ghost Wall’’ by Sarah Moss (Farrar, Straus and Giroux): “This novel gave me pause to consider my own obsession with Bronze Age Man. It also gave me the shivers. We follow Sylvie, a 14-year-old trapped in her father’s obsession of precise re-enactment. The psychology of this novel is razor sharp. We are caught in a vortex of reality between present time and the Bronze Age. The question is: Has man actually progressed from his “primitive” self?

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    Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter.” She can be reached at