Les Figues Press held their NOS Book Contest every year from 2011-2015, awarding $1,000 and publication to a writer of a poetry or prose manuscript, which includes lyric essays, hybrids, translations, and more.
The 2015 contest was judged by author and performance artist lê thi diem thúy, who chose Irradiated Cities by Mariko Nagai. She says of her selection:
This book, a sifting and circling, a calm and masterful layering of voices and vantage points, a slowly emerging portrait of four different Japanese cities and their inhabitants, resists any effort at arrivals or conclusions. By doing so, it shows us that while we may have an accumulation of facts for what happened on a particular day in a particular place, perhaps even the names and words and pictures of the people to whom catastrophe struck, and would not let go, it is within the dark sedimentation and the feather-light drift of history that we might glean what yet remains, and gives off light, to summon and trouble us still.
Nagai explores the aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima. With lyrical fragments and black-and-white photographs, Nagai guides us through loss, silence, echo, devestation, and memory, creating a haunting piece of work.
Read through advance praise of the collection and order a copy for yourself at the Les Figues Press website.