21st Century Literature discussion

74 views
Book Chat > 2016 National Book Critics Circle Awards

Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2351 comments The finalists for the 2016 NBCC Fiction award are --
Moonglow by Michael Chabon
LaRose by Louise Erdrich
Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Margaret Atwood has been award the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award and Yaa Gyasi received the John Leonard Prize for her debut novel Homegoing

For those interested in all the categories see http://bookcritics.org/blog/archive/n....


message 2: by Lily (last edited Jan 18, 2017 02:09PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2495 comments Thx, Linda! (Did anyone here catch the opera production of "Bel Canto" (Ann Patchett)?)


message 3: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 2156 comments Mod
I'm not denying these are good writers, but what a safe and disappointing selection of same old same old.


message 4: by Lily (last edited Jan 18, 2017 09:25PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2495 comments Whitney wrote: "I'm not denying these are good writers, but what a safe and disappointing selection of same old same old."

I wonder how these stand up -- to each other and against their own previous work, as well as the new writers we should see elsewhere.

"Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel, Homegoing (Alfred A. Knopf) is the recipient of the fourth annual John Leonard Prize, established to recognize outstanding first books in any genre and named in honor of founding NBCC member John Leonard."

I always wonder about the judges when encountering comments like yours, Whitney. Without more work, this is the generality I found: "The finalists for the NBCC awards are nominated, evaluated, and selected by the 24-member board of directors, which consists of editors and critics from the country’s leading print and online publications." A conservative group going after the big-names likely to sell well? I don't really know. But I suspect at least their motives are different than ours as readers.


message 5: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 2156 comments Mod
I think what you found is in keeping with the result. When you have lots of judges from established media, you are going to get things that a majority is comfortable with. They will be writers that everyone recognizes as good, but nothing that is particularly challenging to the status quo.

I've heard very good things about Homegoing, but it handily fits in what establishment US critics want in a book by an African / African American writer; namely tales of slavery, life under colonialism, or immigration to America. This one hits the trifecta.


message 6: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 220 comments Whitney wrote: "I'm not denying these are good writers, but what a safe and disappointing selection of same old same old."

I agree and it feels like a real change for NBCC which in the past has been the more daring of the American awards, imo, when compared with the Pulitzer and the National Book Award. I still love that NBCC awarded Being Dead the prize--what a weird book (that I loved).


message 7: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 2156 comments Mod
It doesn't have to be zany, but yes. I want critics to discover and promote those works that are game changing. If all you want is to avoid disagreement, you get comfortable ruts.


message 8: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 220 comments Whitney wrote: "It doesn't have to be zany, but yes. I want critics to discover and promote those works that are game changing. If all you want is to avoid disagreement, you get comfortable ruts."

Me too, but I almost don't care whether it's zany or conventional--I just wish for a list that makes it obvious the judges have read widely, and have reached into the small press lists for contenders with equal fervor, and have not just anointed books everyone knows about already.


message 9: by John (new)

John Bonner (rainybeet) | 1 comments I do not feel that these sorts of awards do encourage books that are different or intellectually stimulating. All of these books seem to be of the same "type," and indeed if you look at the genres they are all "Literary Fiction," and "Contemporary," with a couple of "Historical Fiction" thrown in for good measure.
While the idea of "Literary Fiction" as works that are well written and have social and philosophical significance has nothing wrong with it, most of the time works tagged as such are written in a similar style with a similar target audience, and it seems as though a style over substance (story and characters) mentality really drives these awards.
If the style were unique, or the if there were things that actually made these novels stand out from their peers, then I could appreciate them a lot more, but they too often seem cut from the same cloth, and within their genre are no more unique or stimulating than the latest David Baldacci or Dean Koontz novel. If you like the style they are great, but they do not do anything to advance literature or at least take it in a new direction.


message 10: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2713 comments Mod
Are there prizes that do a good job of capturing more eccentric or different selections? Seems like those interested might be better off looking to small presses that specialize in such books... maybe something like FC2 (they actually do run a couple yearly "innovative fiction" prizes limited to American writers), or maybe Dalkey Archive Press. Grove Press has a history of taking chances or being on the bleeding edge, but I haven't followed them since Atlantic Monthly Press took things over.


message 11: by lark (last edited Jan 19, 2017 01:01PM) (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 220 comments Paul, a member here, has posted here about the Goldsmiths Prize, which I believe began in response to the impression that the Man Booker prizes were getting a little too stolid:

http://www.gold.ac.uk/goldsmiths-prize/


message 12: by Paul (last edited Jan 19, 2017 01:54PM) (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 185 comments poingu wrote: "Paul, a member here, has posted here about the Goldsmiths Prize, which I believe began in response to the impression that the Man Booker prizes were getting a little too stolid:

http://www.gold.ac..."


Yes the Goldsmiths in the UK is the answer, and indeed they announced their 2017 judges today. The brand new Republic of Consciousness Prize (http://www.republicofconsciousness.co...) even more so as it also favours small independent presses.

For the US scene, I am less familiar. But the Best Translated Book Award always seems strong.

Incidentally not sure I would agree with John that the general public is not influenced too much by book awards. Whatever is shortlisted for the Booker usually gets a massive sales boost. E.g. this year His Bloody Project had, per official figures, sold 561 copies at the time it was longlisted, and by the eve of announcement that was over 30,000 and it was actually hard to even get hold of a copy as the publisher was overwhelmed. Actually the exception tends to be precisely when the book is a little left-field or experimental.


message 13: by Charles (new)

Charles One good thing about these prizes is I learn what not to bother reading.


message 14: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2495 comments The winners announced tonight are here:
http://bookcritics.org/awards/

Below is from NYT article tonight:

"Louise Erdrich’s novel “LaRose,” which centers on two Native American families in North Dakota whose lives are upended by a horrific hunting accident that kills a 5-year-old boy, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction on Thursday.

"Ms. Erdrich, who has published 15 novels, won in an especially competitive year for high-profile literary fiction, with Michael Chabon, Ann Patchett, Zadie Smith and Adam Haslett among the finalists.

"The award for nonfiction went to the sociologist Matthew Desmond’s critically acclaimed best seller, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” a deeply reported narrative about impoverished people who lose their homes in Milwaukee, which explores how evictions can be not just a result of extreme poverty, but one of its causes. In The New York Times, Jennifer Senior wrote that “Evicted” will give readers 'the mad urge to press it into the hands of every elected official you meet. The book is that good, and it’s that unignorable.'"

NYT, 3/16/17
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/ar...


message 15: by Dan (last edited Mar 18, 2017 08:17AM) (new)

Dan I'm going to poke my head above the parapet and call out for Adam Haslett's Imagine Me Gone and Louise Erdrich's LaRose. Yes, both are already well-established writers, certainly Erdrich more than Haslett. And yes, both novels are conventionally structured and told. But I found both to be extremely affecting, well-written, and well-edited. And, although it's irrelevant to the award, I'm also pleased that both Erdrich and Patchett are proprietors of independent bookstores.


message 16: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2713 comments Mod
Sound like excellent reasons to call out for both of them, Dan!

Thanks for keeping us updated, Lily.


message 17: by Lily (last edited Mar 17, 2017 10:34AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2495 comments Dan wrote: "I'm going to poke my head above the parapet and call out for Adam Haslett's Imagine Me Gone and Louise Erdrich's LaRose.. ..."

Dan -- In case you didn't notice, Steve Donaghue agrees with you on Haslett's Imagine Me Gone in the video I posted last night in the National Book Award thread.


message 18: by Dan (new)

Dan Lily, thanks for pointing this out to me. Given how acerbic Donaghue's comments were on most of the other NBA long listed novels, I'm pleased that he commented positively on Imagine Me Gone. Incidentally, I find his comments on several of the other NBA long listed novels unduly harsh, and his comments on The Portable Veblen unduly positive. And I'm usually not contrarian.


message 19: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2495 comments Dan wrote: "Incidentally, I find his comments on several of the other NBA long listed novels unduly harsh, and his comments on The Portable Veblen unduly positive. And I'm usually not contrarian...."

;-) Thanks for replying, Dan!


message 20: by Lesley (new)

Lesley Moseley | 60 comments Dan wrote: "Lily, thanks for pointing this out to me. Given how acerbic Donaghue's comments were on most of the other NBA long listed novels, I'm pleased that he commented positively on Imagine Me Gone. Incide..."

I am often contrarian, and agree with positive for The Portable Veblen which I thought was similar but better than a Booker (?) winner Hot Milk


message 21: by Ava Catherine (last edited Mar 27, 2017 03:45AM) (new)

Ava Catherine | 1 comments I am going to have to cast my vote for LaRose by Louise Erdrich. The characters and their problems were so real that I couldn't bear to stop reading until I finished the book.

Moonglow by Michael Chabon is well structured and interesting, but it just falls a bit short for me.


message 22: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany The only one I've read on this list is Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, which I thought was just okay. It certainly wasn't as amazing as Bel Canto. I do like Louise Erdrich, though, so I should probably give LaRose a try.


back to top