The Literary Life
The twenty finalists for the National Book Awards were announced this morning. Each finalist gets $1,000, a plaque and a burst for their book cover. The awards, given by the National Book Foundation in mid-November, are in four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature.
Many of the finalists are not new to the literary prize circuit. Two recipients of the MacArthur “Genius” grant made the cut, as did five Pulitzer Prize winners, one National Book Award winner, three previous finalists and a recipient of a National Book Foundation lifetime achievement award.
What motivates people to write in to advice columns? It’s hardly the most efficient way to solve life’s dilemmas. The lead time is too long for any truly pressing, agonizing situations. And by the time the magazine or column comes out, even milder complaints will have been solved or forgotten about or morphed into totally different problems.
To us, agony aunt letter writing always seemed like a faintly exhibitionist way to get a verdict on your personal life, like People’s Court with the faces blurred out. Cheaper than couples therapy, writing into an advice column is private, but only in the sense that it won’t wreck your Google. Ideally, those in your cohort (especially he or she who has wronged you) will read it, recognize you and—thanks to the authority and impartiality of the advice columnist—realize that you were right all along, finally understanding the full magnitude of your suffering.
Will Bois Sauvage, the fictional Mississippi town created by the novelist Jesmyn Ward, one day reach the status of William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County? Time will tell, but Ms. Ward has signed a deal with Bloomsbury for a third novel set in the Gulf Coast hamlet of her invention. Her most recent book, Salvage the Bones, won the 2011 National Book Award for fiction.
National Book Award
With tears of joy and lots of liquor, New York publishing gathered at Cipriani Wall Street last night for the National Book Awards. This year’s host was actor John Lithgow, who recently published a memoir (Drama: An Actor’s Education) and performed his role with just the right amount of self-deprecation.
It was not as bad as 1999, when attendees of the PEN American Gala had to cross a picket line to get into Cipriani Midtown, but there were a few jokes about the celebration’s short distance from Zuccotti Park.
After the National Book Awards finalists were named last week, Laura Miller wrote a column for Slate called “How the National Book Awards Made Themselves Irrelevant.” Calling the award “the Newbery Medal for adults” she stated that “whatever policy each panel of judges embraces, over the years, the impression has arisen that already-successful titles are automatically sidelined in favor of books that the judges feel deserve an extra boost of attention.”
National Book Award
Last week the National Book Award finalists were announced. In every category, five books were named. Then, a day after the first announcement, a sixth book was named in the Young People’s Literature category. The National Book Foundation explained that a book that was supposed to be a named finalist, Chime, by Franny Billingsley, had not been included but would now be added. Although the foundation made no public statement to clarify the origins of its mistake, it became immediately apparent to onlookers that Chime shared a vowel sound with one of the nominees, Shine, by Lauren Myracle. Speculation that the books had been confused was rampant, but the National Book Foundation did not confirm it — that is, until today.
The finalists for the National Book Awards have been named. From 1,223 books submitted for the awards in 2011, the judges must name only five in each category.
Unlike the Pulitzer prize, the NBA judges are practitioners of the work they judge: only fiction writers decide fiction and only poets decide poets. This year’s fiction Read More
The publishing industry may be sinking, as Andy Borowitz joked at the National Book Awards on Wednesday, Nov. 18, but you wouldn’t have known it from the venue: Cipriani Wall Street, all domed, vaulted ceilings and Bellinis on silver trays.
Until last year, the event was held annually at the Marriott Times Square, which literary Read More
The National Book Award finalists were announced today. For fiction:
Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage (Wayne State University Press)
Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin (Random House)
Daniyal Mueenuddin, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders Read More
Twenty authors attended Wednesday night’s National Book Awards ceremony as finalists, each of them selected by a committee of readers made up of poets, novelists, historians, and critics of all stripes. The judges on each of the four committees spent three and a half months reading over a hundred books (the non-fiction Read More