It’s that time of year again. Time for the weather to turn, to wrap yourself in a fuzzy blanket (colloquially known around this apartment as just Fuzz, i.e. “Where’s Fuzz?” and “I want to cuddle with Fuzz.” You get the idea.) make some chai tea (okay, maybe this is just my perfect weekend afternoon) and curl up with a new book! And what better way to help us in our search for our next great read than the finalists for the National Book Awards.
There are some fun outliers this round. Roz Chast, a cartoonist from The New Yorker, is up for a nonfiction award with the graphic novel memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Jacqueline Woodson’s YA novel Brown Girl Dreaming, up for an award for Young Fiction, is written completely in verse.
There are some heavy hitters, as well. Claudia Rankine (if you don’t know her, get to know her.) is up for her book of poetry, Citizen: An American Lyric, and of course, the indelible Marilynne Robinson is shortlisted for her novel Lila, the third in a series of novels all taking place in the fictional Midwestern city of Gilead. (Her first two novels in the series are Gilead and Home.)
And I’ll say there’s some mostly decent representation, with females making up 16 finalists in all categories, both long and shortlist. (That makes 24 guys and notably only one female in nonfiction.) The ethnic diversity leaves much to be desired, but that’s a bigger question that I’ll save for a later post.
As for publishers, it’s nice to see they’re not all the Random Houses and Penguin Groups; my favorite indie publisher Graywolf Press has two of their writers on the list, Claudia Rankine and poet Fanny Howe.
So, there you have it. A little experimental stuff, a little more of the expected stuff. I have my picks for who I want to win, but we won’t know any more until the judges meet and announce the winners in mid November. Yes, they meet and decide the same day, and I’m sure it’s a lovely, pleasant, I-disagree-with-you-but-I’m-going-to-explain-my-reasons-eloquently-so-we-can-all-come-to-a-clear-and-honest-conclusion type of affair. If you’re interested in finding out more about all of the writers click here, and go get reading!