October 10, 2007

National Book Award nominees are announced

All right, people, get your Moleskines out and your credit-cards/library-cards ready: the nominees for the 2007 National Book Award (or NBA) were announced this morning (by Camille Paglia, no less). Considered by most to be within the "top tier" of literary awards given out each year (along with such other prizes as the Pulitzer, Nobel, Booker and others), the NBA has been around now for almost 60 years, although until 1988 was jointly sponsored by a group of unaffiliated American literary organizations. (Since 1988, then, the NBA has had its own non-profit foundation to run the awards.) NBA picks tend to be more academic in nature than many of the other awards, and the group takes pride in many times choosing unknown or obscure writers; among many novelists to get a huge boost from an NBA win at the beginning of their careers include Jonathan Franzen, Philip Roth, Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, John Updike and more. (And a little trivia, by the way -- the very first recipient of the NBA happened to have been patron saint of the Chicago arts Nelson Algren.)

Anyway, like the Booker nominees last month, I will be attempting to get my hands on all the NBA nominees, and reviewing them here before the official awards ceremony on November 14th; and speaking of which, the nominees themselves include:

Mischa Berlinski, Fieldwork
Lydia Davis, Varieties of Disturbance
Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End
Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke
Jim Shepard, Like You’d Understand, Anyway

Wow, five books I've never heard of, from five authors I've never heard of -- this should be interesting! Anyway, I encourage you to play along at home if you'd like over the next month, and see if your opinion of these books match the ones I will be expressing here at the site. As always, I hope you'll enjoy CCLaP's little mini-feature on the NBA nominees coming over the next four weeks.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 10:27 AM, October 10, 2007. Filed under: Arts news | Literature | Literature:Fiction |