Thursday, October 11, 2007

fall=literary-awards season

The fall is a great time to be a reader, for so many reasons. Not only do you have all the heaviest-hitting, highest-quality books being released in time for the holidays, but you also have the announcement of major literary awards. This week alone has yielded a bounty.

The National Book Award finalists were announced. Hands down, the NBA is my favorite literary award. It represents the best American literature. As with many awards, it is not without its faults, but year after year, the nominees are the sort of books I want to read. And unlike the Booker Prize (present list excepted), you've likely heard of at least a few NBA finalists.

From this year's fiction group, I have read Mischa Berlinksi's Fieldwork. My book group is about to read the Sherman Alexie, which is on the children's list. In between, I have designs on the Joshua Ferris and Christopher Hitchens's God is Not Great.

Also this week, the Nobel Prize for Literature was bestowed upon Doris Lessing, an author I have had good intentions to read for over twenty years.

The National Book Award will be announced on November 14, at which time Michael Cunningham will also present the foundation's lifetime achievement award to Joan Didion, who so deserves it! This is a great time to discover Didion if you've never read her. If you have read her bestselling memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, do yourself a favor and dip into her earlier fiction (such as Play It Where It Lays) or reportage (such as the essays collected in Slouching Towards Bethlehem).

The Booker Prize winner will be announced next week, on October 16. Stay tuned.

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