Amazon and Publishers Weekly have started the year-end best-book-listing early. Some notable titles: Jeffrey Eugenides' "The Marriage Plot," Chad Harbach's "The Art of Fielding," Karl Marlantes' "What It Is Like to Go to War," Erik Larson's "In the Garden of Beasts" and more.

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Lit Life |

No sooner did November rear its sodden, leaf-encrusted head than best-books-of-2011 lists started coming out. Publishers Weekly, the publishing industry’s trade magazine, got there first on Nov. 4 with its list. followed with its own “editors’ picks” on Nov. 8.

Publishers’ Weekly’s top book was “The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a textured, psychologically astute novel about three Brown University graduates who form a three-decades-long love triangle. It’s on my top fiction list as well, and also in Amazon’s top 10.

Amazon’s top pick is another novel, “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach (Little, Brown), about a college baseball player whose promising career is derailed, and his life thereafter.

The Amazon list is noteworthy for its inclusion of two books by local authors in its top 10: Woodinville author Karl Marlantes’ “What It Is Like to Go to War” (Atlantic Monthly Press) and Seattle writer Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts” (Crown). “Maphead,” by Jeopardy celebrity and Eastside resident Ken Jennings (Scribner), was number 19.

Looking forward to 2012

I learned last week that the single most anticipated book at my house, the sequel to Hilary Mantel’s novel “Wolf Hall,” will be published in the fall of 2012 by Henry Holt.

“Wolf Hall,” a dazzling take on the early years of Henry VIII through the eyes of his minister and right-hand-man Thomas Cromwell, won both the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Its sequel, “Bring Up the Bodies,” continues Cromwell’s story. Of course, you can find out what happened to Cromwell by Googling him, but I’m not going to think about that; just waiting for the pleasure in Mantel’s telling of the story.

Also ahead

The Modern Language Association’s annual convention will be held in Seattle Jan. 5-8: 8,000 language and literature scholars will be on the streets, asking in well-modulated and grammatically correct sentences: “Where’s the Pike Place Market?” and “Is the bus really free?” Two dozen convention sessions will be free and open to the public. For more information, go to and click on “Sessions Open to the Public.”

Good news department

Two Seattle writers have won prizes from Boston’s Grub Street Center for creative writing. Wendy Call won for her nonfiction book “No Word For Welcome: The Mexican Village Faces the Global Economy” (University of Nebraska Press), and Frances McCue for her volume of poetry, “The Bled” (Factory Hollow Press). In October, “The Bled” also picked up a Washington State Book Award.

Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or On Twitter @gwinnma.