Sometimes it seems like all there is to write about is book awards. The National Book Awards are handed out, but wait, here are the Whitbread finalists. The Whitbread, Britain’s second most prestigious prize after the Booker, is, it seems to me, at a disadvantage. Since the Whitbread comes out only a couple of months after the Booker, the selections are compared in the press. If the Whitbread too closely mirrors the Booker, it loses some of its punch, but if the judges pick a shortlist with no overlap with the Booker, the Whitbread is criticized for being too obscure. This year, the only overlap with the Booker is that they have both shortlisted Ali Smith’s The Accidental. As was much remarked when the Booker list was announced, many well-known authors have books out this year: Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, Zadie Smith and Julian Barnes, among others. None of those made the Whitbread list, a fact that seems likely to have prompted head judge Philippa Gregory’s defensive sounding remark in the Guardian: “Our shortlist may confuse the book trade. We are not saying these are the only good books. They are books which happened to resonate powerfully with the judges of the moment.” The list does include two notable names: Salman Rushdie for Shalimar the Clown and Nick Hornby for A Long Way Down. Rounding out the fiction list is Cotton by Christopher Wilson (which, since it is going by a different title in England, has been much misrepresented in the press, as the Literary Saloon points out.) For the finalists in all the categories, visit the Whitbread site.
The Morning News is kicking off their second annual tournament of books. Among the nominees is the latest LBC selection, Garner by Kirstin Allio. The tournament was a lot of fun last year, and it looks to be good this year, too. Things get underway in February.via Maud
As expected, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road took home the top prize in TMN’s Tournament of Books. Oprah stole some of the award’s thunder with her surprise announcement, but the excellent finale, with commentary from 17 judges, is a great read. In fact, I had a great time following the Tournament this year (for me it rivaled the NCAA’s in terms of holding my interest). It was a treat to read reactions to books like The Road and One Good Turn day after day from a big group of people. I’m already looking forward to next year.And incidentally, after reading all these reactions to The Road in the Tournament, along with all the Oprah-fueled media coverage, it’s starting to sound like The Road is one of those important books that comes along from time to time. One that has real staying power.
Book award season enters high gear as the National Book Award finalists have been released. Winners will be announced in New York City on November 16.
The short list includes the big fall book by Colson Whitehead and Jacqueline Woodson’s first novel for adults in 20 years. It’s a great time to be a reader.
Here’s a list of the finalists in all four categories with bonus links and excerpts where available:
The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder (“Men in Tights Crammed into Confined Spaces“)
News of the World by Paulette Jiles (excerpt (pdf))
The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan (I Want Complete Freedom When I Write: The Millions Interviews Karan Mahajan)
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (“Scars That Never Fade“)
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (A Most Anticipated book)
Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild (Most Anticipated)
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (excerpt)
Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Year in Reading)
The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andrés Reséndez (excerpt)
Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy by Heather Ann Thompson (Most Anticipated)
The Performance of Becoming Human by Daniel Borzutzky
Collected Poems 1974–2004 by Rita Dove (Race and American Poetry: Dove v. Vendler)
Archeophonics by Peter Gizzi (Peter Gizzi on J.H. Prynne)
The Abridged History of Rainfall by Jay Hopler (poem)
Look by Solmaz Sharif (the title poem)
Young People’s Literature:
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (Susan Orlean on Kate DiCamillo)
March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell (our review of Book One in the series)
When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin (excerpt)
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Last night, the winners of the National Book Critics Circle Award were announced in New York City. The award is voted on by critics and considers all books in English (including in translation), no matter the country of origin. The winners in the various categories and some supplementary links:
Nonfiction: Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (excerpt)
Criticism: Clare Cavanagh, Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics: Russia, Poland, and the West
Biography: Sarah Bakewell, How To Live: Or, A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer (at The Millions, excerpt)
Poetry: C. D. Wright, One with Others
Previously: The finalists