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A Look at the National Book Awards Longlists --With Poll Results

The National Book Foundation took a new approach to its award nominee announcements this year, releasing longlists for each of four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young Adult Literature. The lists each consist of 10 nominees, which will be halved in the next few weeks. The winners will be announced at the National Book Awards ceremony in New York on Nov. 20.

But you don't have to wait that long to learn the winners of public opinion. We presented each longlist as a poll in which our readers could vote for their favorites. The results are in! The full longlists and those results follow. And a big thank you to everyone who participated!

Fiction

Lowlands New York's big publishing houses have swept the fiction category this year, with each nominee representing a different imprint. Three of our Best of the Month picks made this perfectly gender-balanced list: Anthony Marra's debut novel, George Saunders' short story collection, and Jhumpa Lahari's sophomore novel.

From the get-go, our readers kept Lahiri and Saunders neck-and-neck, but ultimately it was Lowland that ended up on top with 28 percent of the vote.

Here's the complete list of nominees:

Nonfiction

Lowlands

Two themes can be immediately gleaned from the Nonfiction contenders. First, all are first-time NBA nominees, except for Lawrence Wright (who was previously nominated in 2006 for The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11). Second, it's almost all about America, Gretel Ehrlich and Wendy Lower offering international exceptions.

Wright was our readers' favorite, taking 31 percent of the votes.

Here's the complete list of nominees:

Poetry

Lowlands Again including many first-time nominees, the veterans here are, within poetry circles, familiar names. Frank Bidart -- a Pulitzer Prize finalist -- has received three NBA nods, and Andrei Codrescu should be known to NPR listeners.

It was Adrian Matejka's The Big Smoke, a collection of poems about heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson, that our readers are rooting for, garnering 26 percent of the votes.

Here's the complete list of nominees:

Young Adult

Lowlands

The list includes some great books for younger readers, representing a range of ages, genres, and themes. Four of our own Best of the Month picks (indicated by * below) made the cut. But for our readers, it seems, the clear winner is Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, which earned an impressive 44 percent of the votes.

Here's the complete list of nominees:

Read our resident YA expert Seira Wilson's take on this longlist here.

National Book Award for Young People's Literature: The Longlist

It's award time again, and today the first of the category longlists for the National Book Award was announced--the Young People's Literature award.  The other category lists (poetry, fiction, nonfiction) will be announced over the next three days.  Last year Goblin Secrets took home the Young People's prize and the 2013 longlist includes familiar names and past award winners like Kate DiCamillo, David Levithan, Kathi Appelt, and Gene Luen Yang, to name a few.  Teen romance, graphic novels, mystery, fantasy--a wonderful variety of themes and genres, and all truly great books to choose from.  The judges have their work cut out for them...

Four of the titles made our Best Books of the Month lists and a couple (Picture Me Gone and The Real Boy) release over the next couple of weeks. Around the office, we all have a favorite horse in the race, so it will be exciting to see how we fare when the finalists come out on October 16 and the winner announced at a black-tie event in New York on November 20.  Do you have a favorite book on this list?

Flora150 FarFarAway150  BoxersSaints150 Luck150 TrueBlue150

 

  TangleKnots150 SummerPrince150 RealBoy150 PictureMe150TwoBoys150 

 

Remembering "Birmingham-1963": Guest Author Christopher Paul Curtis

WatsonsGoToBirmingham A few weeks ago we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s ground-breaking I Have a Dream speech.  Today is a more somber civil rights anniversary, the church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.  The event that outraged a nation 50 years ago had a profound effect on Christopher Paul Curtis and led to his award-winning career as a children's book author.  In the guest post below, Curtis shares his story and that of The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963, now a beloved classic of children's literature and airing as a television movie on September 20th.

September 15, 2013, is the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, the event that inspired The Watsons Go To Birmingham-1963. I was ten years old at the time of the bombing, and I was stunned to see my parents cry when they heard the news. Not only did my mother’s and father’s reactions terrify me, their pain also showed me how momentous this act of terrorism was.  As I write this, I’m preparing to go to Birmingham this September to be part of the city’s observance of the anniversary. I am deeply honored by this invitation.

I’m also looking forward to the release of the Hallmark Channel Original Movie on September 20, 2013 of TWGTB.  As any author would, I initially had doubts and worries about how my novel would be treated in the transition from the page to the screen.  After seeing some of the filming and meeting the producers, the director,  the amazing cast, and the production crew my doubts are gone.  The team has done a wonderful job of making the novel come alive on the screen.  I am proud of the fact that I am a member of that team.

Christopher-Paul-Curtis_credit-University-of-Michigan-Flint_200The Watsons Go To Birmingham-1963  came at the right time in my life, a time when I was deeply unhappy in every job I’d held, (working in an automobile factory for thirteen years, unloading trucks in a warehouse) and felt there was more that I could be doing.  When my editor Wendy Lamb accepted The Watsons for publication I don’t think either of us had any idea of the impact the book would have.  We never dreamed Kenny Watson’s voice would be heard by millions of children and used for city wide reads and as a tool to help communities address racism.  Wendy and I would like to give our sincerest thanks to the many booksellers, teachers, parents and librarians everywhere who have been a crucial part of making this happen.  Without their care and understanding the voice of Kenny Watson would still be locked in the head of an unhappy Flint autoworker.

Finally, as we look back on the fiftieth anniversary of the summer of ’63 I am hopeful that Kenny’s story will help children understand the power that comes from committed people acting together to bring about change.  I hope my readers will be inclined to use this occasion to celebrate the courage of those who fought for Civil Rights.  As I say in the epilogue of TWGTB, “These are the people who believe as long as one person is being treated unfairly, we all are. These are our true American heroes and they still walk among us today.  One of them may be sitting next to you as you read this, or standing in the next room making your dinner, or waiting for you to come outside and play.

One of them may be you.

Christopher Paul Curtis

Graphic Novel Friday: LGBT in Comics

Since 1997 (although their efforts date back to the late 1980s), the Lambda Literary Foundation “nurtures, celebrates, and preserves LGBT literature through programs that honor excellence, promote visibility and encourage development of emerging writers.” Their scope expanded last week with the following good news for comics fans:

"For the first time ever, the Lambda Literary Awards will honor LGBT Graphic Novels in their own category in keeping with the explosion of titles, and talent, that have enriched LGBT literature for years. The new LGBT Graphic Novels category is defined as “any work –fiction or nonfiction– that uses a combination of words and sequential art to convey a narrative and is published in book form (as distinguished from periodical comic books). Open to any genre or topic this category includes graphic novels, graphic memoirs and comic anthologies.”

While we wait for the award winners to be announced in spring of 2014, here is a list of our favorite graphic novels that have LGBT themes and/or characters. It’s by no means comprehensive, and we’re hoping Omni readers will add their favorites to the comments!

  • Love and Rockets by Los Bros Hernandez (Fantagraphics): Ongoing for over 30 years, the rich world created by an artistic band of brothers is still ahead of its time, involving LGBT characters and issues without pandering or overt “special messages.” These are life stories, told as life unfolds—with humor, heartbreak, and perseverance.  (See also the recent and very cool Covers collection and our reading guide to the series.)
  • Dykes to Watch Out for by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt): Here is another long-running literary comics staple, this time focusing on a predominantly lesbian cast that ages and grows as the stories publish.
  • Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III (DC Comics): DC certainly made headlines when it announced the first openly lesbian character in the Bat-family, but Rucka and Williams transformed her into more than a costumed hero; she’s imbued with true character, full of pride, mistakes, and—yes—heroics.
  • Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse (Vertigo): Set in the early 1960s and in the American South, protagonist Toland Polk maneuvers his sexuality in a tumultuous time period, set against civil rights, racism, activism, and coming-out culture.
  • Wandering Son by Shimura Takako and Matt Thorn (Fantagraphics): This beautiful literary manga follows the lives of two fifth graders, Shuichi Nitori Yoshino Takatsuki, as they both question their gender identities in the wide-eyed and often cruel period of adolescence.

Continue reading "Graphic Novel Friday: LGBT in Comics" »

2013 Hugo Award Winners Include John Scalzi, Brandon Sanderson, the Avengers, and Game of Thrones

The 2013 Hugo Awards, celebrating excellence in science fiction, were presented this weekend at LoneStarCon 3. The event was held in San Antonio Texas Aug. 29-Sept. 2. Here are the results from some of the top categories.

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas

Best Novel

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi (Tor) -- winner
Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (DAW)
Blackout by Mira Grant (Orbit)

 

Best Novella

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications) -- winner
After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress (Tachyon Publications)
"The Stars Do Not Lie" by Jay Lake (Asimov’s, Oct-Nov 2012)
On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats by Mira Grant (Orbit)

 

Saga

Best Graphic Story

Saga, Volume One, written by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics) -- winner
Locke & Key Volume 5: Clockworks, written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Schlock Mercenary: Random Access Memorabilia, written and illustrated by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (Hypernode Media)
Grandville Bête Noire, written and illustrated by Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse Comics, Jonathan Cape)
Saucer Country, Volume 1: Run, written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Ryan Kelly, Jimmy Broxton and Goran Sudžuka (Vertigo)

 

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

The Avengers, Screenplay & Directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios, Disney, Paramount) -- winner
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro, Directed by Peter Jackson (WingNut Films, New Line Cinema, MGM, Warner Bros)
The Hunger Games, Screenplay by Gary Ross & Suzanne Collins, Directed by Gary Ross (Lionsgate, Color Force)
Looper, Screenplay and Directed by Rian Johnson (FilmDistrict, EndGame Entertainment)
The Cabin in the Woods, Screenplay by Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon; Directed by Drew Goddard (Mutant Enemy, Lionsgate)

 

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

"Game of Thrones", "Blackwater", Written by George R.R. Martin, Directed by Neil Marshall. Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO) -- winner
"Doctor Who", "The Angels Take Manhattan", Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
"Fringe", "Letters of Transit", Written by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Akiva Goldsman, J.H.Wyman, Jeff Pinkner. Directed by Joe Chappelle (Fox)
"Doctor Who", "Asylum of the Daleks", Written by Steven Moffat; Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
"Doctor Who", "The Snowmen", written by Steven Moffat; directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Wales)

 

See the complete list of nominees and winners here.

Kadir Nelson on Illustrating Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" Speech

IhaveAdream260Kadir Nelson is known for his incredibly beautiful children's book illustrations, including the 2013 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, I Have a Dream.  Today marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s groundbreaking "I Have a Dream" speech and Nelson shares his thoughts on what it means to him and how that influenced his experience illustrating I Have a Dream, a gorgeous picture book that includes an audio CD of Dr. King's complete speech, as it was delivered on August 28, 1963.

The 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s I HAVE A DREAM speech is a powerful occasion for me--every time I listen to the speech, it stops me in my tracks. I can remember the first time I heard it. I was in the 5th grade and my class assignment was to memorize and deliver the speech. And as I stood before my class the following morning, Dr. King’s words poured out of me.  As an unexpected side effect of speaking his powerful words, I somehow felt stronger, more confident, and very proud.

Over the years, I have created hundreds of paintings and illustrated books about a multitude of themes, and with each story I have made it a point to show the strength, love, and light that dwells within every character.

As I set about the great task of illustrating Dr. King’s marvelous words, I felt weighted with the responsibility of getting it right.

Before I began painting I listened to Dr. King’s speeches, I poured over books, hundreds of photographs, and I watched documentaries. I even traveled to our nation’s capital to further enrich my appreciation of Dr. King’s experience.

As I walked along the water’s edge all the way up the stairway of the Lincoln Memorial to the spot where Dr. King spoke, I looked out over the landscape and imagined what Dr. King saw as he stood there almost fifty years ago, and took it all in.  I felt privileged and humbled by my great task.

How could I illustrate Dr. King’s powerful words? I decided to use a progression of realistic and straightforward images to describe the setting and mood of the day of the speech, while also setting the stage for the jump to the images of Dr. King’s dream. And as matter of contrast, the images that describe Dr. King’s dream are more conceptual. As the speech progresses and the dream becomes clearer, both dream and reality merge with a fuller and more colorful palette.

The result is I HAVE A DREAM a celebration of Dr. King’s magnificent words that continue to move Americans from all walks of life to share his dream. It is a privilege to share it with you and I hope that the experience children will gain from reading Dr. King’s powerful words will make them feel stronger, more confident, and inspire readers of every age to contribute in their own way to Dr. King’s dream for America. --Kadir Nelson

Segrio De La Pava and Katherine Boo Among 2013 PEN Literary Award Winners

A Naked Singularity

PEN American Center announced yesterday the winners of the 2013 PEN Literary Awards.

The PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, which is awarded to the author of a debut novel or short story collection, was awarded to Sergio De La Pava for A Naked Singularity. The prize is worth $25,000. The PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction, worth $10,000, went to Katherine Boo for Behind the Beautiful Forevers. NPR correspondent Frank Deford was selected to receive the lifetime achievement award.

Visit pen.org for the full list of winners.

The 2013 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony will take place on October 21 at CUNY Graduate Center’s Proshansky Auditorium in New York, NY. The award winners as well as the runners-up will be honored. The Master of Ceremonies will be Andy Borowitz.

Caitlin R. Kiernan, Mort Castle, Joyce Carol Oates among 2013 Bram Stoker Award Winners in Horror

It was a frightfully fabulous weekend for the Horror Writers Association, which spent the last few days in New Orleans hosting the Bram Stoker Awards™ Weekend 2013, as well as the World Horror Convention. Amid the panels and art shows, readings, and signings, the gala presentation honored writers in 11 categories, including Novel, Graphic Novel, Nonfiction, Screenplay, and Poetry.

Drowning GirlCaitlin R. Kiernan won best novel for The Drowning Girl, Joyce Carol Oates shared an award, and Mort Castle walked away with two haunted house trophies. Lifetime Achievement Awards went to Clive Barker and Robert R. McCammon.

The complete list of 2013 category nominees and winners were as follows:

Novel

  • Caitlin R. Kiernan -- The Drowning Girl (winner)
  • Benjamin Kane Ethridge -- Bottled Abyss
  • John Everson -- NightWhere
  • Bentley Little -- The Haunted
  • Joe McKinney -- Inheritance

     

    Life Rage First Novel

  • L.L. Soares -- Life Rage (winner)
  • Michael Boccacino -- Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling
  • Deborah Coates -- Wide Open
  • Charles Day -- The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief
  • Peter Dudar -- A Requiem for Dead Flies
  • Richard Gropp -- Bad Glass

     

    Flesh & Bone Young Adult Novel

  • Jonathan Maberry -- Flesh & Bone (winner)
  • Libba Bray -- The Diviners
  • Barry Lyga -- I Hunt Killers
  • Michael McCarty -- I Kissed A Ghoul
  • Maggie Stiefvater -- The Raven Boys
  • Jeff Strand -- A Bad Day for Voodoo

     

    Witch Hunts Graphic Novel 

  • Rocky Wood and Lisa Morton -- Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times (winner)
  • Cullen Bunn -- The Sixth Gun Volume 3: Bound
  • Terry Moore -- Rachel Rising Vol. 1: The Shadow of Death
  • Ravi Thornton -- The Tale of Brin and Bent and Minno Marylebone
  • Peter J. Wacks and Guy Anthony De Marco -- Behind These Eyes
  •  

    Long Fiction

  • Gene O’Neill -- The Blue Heron (winner)
  • Kealan Patrick Burke -- Thirty Miles South of Dry County
  • Jack Ketchum and Lucky McGee -- I’m Not Sam
  • Joe McKinney and Michael McCarty -- Lost Girl of the Lake
  • Norman Prentiss -- The Fleshless Man


  • Magdala AmygdalaShort Fiction
  • Lucy Snyder -- "Magdala Amygdala" (winner)
  • Bruce Boston -- "Surrounded by the Mutant Rain Forest"
  • Joe McKinney -- "Bury My Heart at Marvin Gardens"
  • Weston Ochse -- "Righteous"
  • John Palisano -- "Available Light"
  •  

    Screenplay

  • Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard -- The Cabin in the Woods (winner)
  • Jane Goldman -- The Woman in Black
  • Sang Kyu Kim -- The Walking Dead, "Killer Within"
  • Tim Minear -- American Horror Story: Asylum, "Dark Cousin"
  • Gary Ross Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray -- The Hunger Games

     

     

    New Moon on the Water Black Dahlia and White Rose Fiction Collection

  • Mort Castle -- New Moon on the Water (winner, tie)
  • Joyce Carol Oates -- Black Dahlia and White Rose: Stories (winner, tie)
  • Jonathan Carroll -- Woman Who Married a Cloud: Collected Stories
  • Elizabeth Hand -- Errantry: Strange Stories
  • Glen Hirshberg -- The Janus Tree

     

    Shadow Show Anthology

  • Mort Castle and Sam Weller -- Shadow Show (winner)
  • Eric J. Guignard -- Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations
  • Eric Miller -- Hell Comes to Hollywood
  • R.J. Cavender, Mark C.Scioneaux, and Robert S. Wilson -- Horror for Good: A Charitable Anthology
  • Stan Swanson -- Slices of Flesh

     

    Trick or Treat Non-Fiction

  • Lisa Morton -- Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween (winner)
  • Michael Collings -- Writing Darkness
  • Les Klinger -- The Annotated Sandman, Volume 1
  • Kim Paffenroth and John W. Morehead -- The Undead and Theology
  • Kendall R. Phillips -- Dark Directions: Romero, Craven, Carpenter, and the Modern Horror Film

     

    Vampires, Zombies & Wanton Souls Poetry

  • Marge Simon and Sandy DeLuca -- Vampires, Zombies & Wanton Souls (winner)
  • Linda Addison and Stephen M. Wilson -- Dark Duet
  • Bruce Boston and Gary William Crawford -- Notes from the Shadow City
  • Michael Collings -- A Verse to Horrors
  • Mary A. Turzillo -- Lovers & Killers
  •  

    2012bramstokerwinners

    The 2012 Bram Stoker Award® winners: Top row (left to right): Mort Castle, L.L. Soares, Jerad Walters, Rocky Wood, Jonathan Maberry. Lower row/middle: Sam Weller, James Chambers, Lucy Snyder, Marge Simon, Robert McCammon, Caitlin R. Kiernan (seated), Charles Day, Lisa Morton
    (Not pictured: Gene O'Neill, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, Joyce Carol Oates, and Clive Barker)

    2013 Edgar Award Winners Announced: "Live By Night" Gets Best Novel

    Edgar "Some years later, on a tugboat in the Gulf of Mexico, Joe Coughlin's feet were placed in a tub of cement. Twelve gunmen stood waiting until they got far enough out to sea to throw him overboard, while Joe listened to the engine chug and watched the water churn white at the stern. And it occurred to him that almost everything of note that had ever happened in his life--good or bad-- had been set in motion the morning he first crossed paths with Emma Gould."

    So begins Live by Night, the latest novel by Dennis Lehane, acclaimed author of Gone, Baby, Gone and Mystic River, and the recipient of the 2013 Edgar Award for Best Novel.

    The annual dinner and ceremony celebrating the year's best writing (according to the Mystery Writers of America) took place Thursday night at the Grand Hyatt in New York City, where attendees were "Dressed to Kill" and nominees vied for the prize in Best First Novel, Best Fact Crime, Best Short Story, Best Television Episode Teleplay, and more. 

    The full list of winners and nominees can be found here, including:

    Best Novel

    Live by Night

    Best First Novel

    The Expats

     

    Best Paperback Original

    The Last Policeman

     

    Continue reading "2013 Edgar Award Winners Announced: "Live By Night" Gets Best Novel" »

    "The Orphan Master's Son" and More Pulitzer Prize Winners

    Orphan-MasterAfter 2012's odd omission of a Fiction winner, this year's Pulitzer Prizes delivered on all fronts: Nonfiction to Gilbert King for Devil in the Grove, History to Fredrik Logevall for Embers of War, Biography to Tom Reiss for The Black Count, Poetry to Sharon Olds for Stag's Leap, Drama to Ayad Akhtar for Disgraced--and Fiction honors to Adam Johnson for The Orphan Master's Son, described by the judges as "an exquisitely crafted novel that carries the reader on an adventuresome journey into the depths of totalitarian North Korea and into the most intimate spaces of the human heart."

    In a piece here on why we'd picked Johnson's novel as our spotlight for the Best Book of the Month (over, I might add, John Green's phenomenal Fault in Our Stars) when it was released in January of last year, I shared how our team's obsession with this book in December 2011 took a strange turn when we heard that Kim Jon-il had died. The outpouring of news about and propaganda from North Korea felt like an alarming intrusion into reality of the fictional world we'd been compulsively descending into each night, a searing reminder "that the surreal, brutal universe Johnson evokes continues to unfold just across the Pacific."

    As North Korea's new leader incites increasingly nervous debates about his true threat level, Johnson's novel feels all the more relevant and haunting. I keep finding myself drawn to Internet accounts from escapees and satellite images of the camps where a (roughly) estimated 3.5 million have so far been killed. No other modern nation is a more brutally constructed Orwellian fiction than the DPRK, and it's easy to see how Johnson became obsessed with questions about how it must be to live within this gulag of the mind. He wrote about this experience for Amazon Books:

    I wondered what happened to personal desires when they came into conflict with a national story. Was it possible to retain a personal identity in such conditions, and under what circumstances would a person reveal his or her true nature? These mysteries--of subsumed selves, of hidden lives, of rewritten longings--are the fuel of novels, and I felt a powerful desire to help reveal what a dynastic dictatorship had forced these people to conceal.

    Of course, I could only speculate on those lives, filling the voids with research and imagination. Back home, I continued to read books and seek out personal accounts. Testimonies of gulag survivors like Kang Chol Hwan proved invaluable. But I found that most scholarship on the DPRK was dedicated to military, political and economic theory. Fewer were the books that focused directly on the people who daily endured such circumstances. Rarer were the narratives that tallied the personal cost of hidden emotions, abandoned relationships, forgotten identities. These stories I felt a personal duty to tell. Traveling to North Korea filled me with a sense that every person there, from the lowliest laborer to military leaders, had to surrender a rich private life in order to enact one pre-written by the Party. To capture this on the page, I created characters across all levels of society, from the orphan soldier to the Party leaders. And since Kim Jong Il had written the script for all of North Korea, my novel didn't make sense without writing his role as well.

    If you want to understand North Koreans--and how they have been conditioned to think about Americans--start with The Orphan Master's Son.

    See new and past Pultizer Prize winners at Amazon Books.

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