Underdog Jaimy Gordon took home the fiction prize at last night’s National Book Award. Never heard of her? Not entirely your fault. Her winning novel, Lord of Misrule (not to be confused with vampire serialist Rachel Caine’s book of the same name (pictured, and well-received in its own right)) only hit shelves two weeks ago, in a rushed shipment by indie publisher Kingston & Co. following her nomination. The definitive Times profile is certainly on the way, but to get you through the day, here are a few Jaimy Gordon talking points.
- “Wow! Another winner for the Keith Waldrop-Burning Deck crew.” Gordon worked with Keith Waldrop (who won the poetry NBA last year for Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy) on her first novel, Shamp of the City-Solo, while getting her M.A. at Brown. Gordon has said she’s indebted to Waldrop and his wife’s Providence press-cum-salon, and Waldrop has said, “I hope no one will suppose that I am interested in Jaimy Gordon because she was once my student. That was long ago and, besides, it was clear from the beginning that she had nothing to learn from me.”
- “I’m sorry if I’m not dying to read another form-y, million-narrator novel.” The sole critique we’ve found about Lord is the book has too many narrators. From Publisher’s Weekly: “While Gordon’s latest reaches for Great American Novel status [sic], and her use of the colloquial voice perfectly evokes the time and place, constant shifts in perspective make the novel feel over-styled and under-plotted.” And from Jane Smiley: “One problem is that Gorden’s chosen form, which is to tell her story through several alternating points of view, allows for immediacy but not for perspective.” You can probaby use this as point of contrast so you can continue talking about how attached you are to the characters in Freedom.
- “How nice for Baltimore to have an NBA winner!” Gordon is a Baltimore native. She now lives and teaches Michigan, and her book is set in West Virginia, but bringing this up is a great way to segue into talking about The Wire.
Check back soon for more National Book Award coverage from Observer writers.