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National Book Awards (USA) > 2019 National Book Award for Fiction

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message 2: by Scott (last edited Sep 19, 2019 10:45PM) (new)

Scott Boyd | 124 comments Last-minute hopes and predictions:

Ask Again, Yes - Keane
Bowlaway - McCracken
Daisy Jones & The Six - Reid
Disappearing Earth - Phillips
Fleishman Is In Trouble - Brodesser-Akner
Inland - Obreht
Lost Children Archive - Luiselli
Memories of the Future - Hustvedt
The Nickel Boys - Whitehead
The Old Drift - Serpell
Olive, Again - Strout
On Earth, We're Briefly Gorgeous - Vuong
Orange World - Russell
Patsy - Dennis-Benn
Red At The Bone - Woodson
Sing To It - Hempel
Trust Exercise - Choi
The Warehouse - Hart
The Water Dancer - Coates


message 3: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments I have not read much new U.S. fiction this year. Out of Scott's list I have only read three. I like the judging panel this year. There could be some interesting choices. I'll be curious to see if Marlon James gets a call. The book is controversial but I want to see the author supported. I do not know if VanderMeer would help that case or not. I do hope there is a nod to something from speculative literature. Maybe Ted Chiang or Maurice Carlos Ruffin. I hope Rushdie will be there if for no other reason than to liberate rules on considered author. I liked Old Drift. I have planned to read the four below so I will hope for one of them as a sleeper.
The Organs of Sense
Big Bang
Bloomland
Rabbits for Food

The only two I think are guaranteed are Whitehead and Vuong.


message 4: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Tittle | 4 comments Don't understand the love for Trust Exercise but I'll take the rest of the list.


message 5: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments Sarah wrote: "Don't understand the love for Trust Exercise but I'll take the rest of the list."

I think it is an interesting list . Lots of surprises. I'll comment further when the discussion is updated.


message 6: by Karin (new)

Karin (8littlepaws) | 26 comments I didn't think Marlon James was eligible for the NBA, but I guess so. I didn't particularly love BL, RW nor Trust Exercise myself, but I though Nickel Boys was a solid work. Haven't read the other seven yet, and some of them are brand new to me. Should be a fun year for me reading the NBA longlists.


message 7: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 672 comments Surprised that Inland by Téa Obreht is not on the list BUT THRILLED that The Need by Helen Phillips is. Helen Phillips is one of my favorite authors. I have read all her books and have them on my keeper shelf. I thought The Need was very well done. It is also very different from her other books, but must say that all her books are different. I'm now collecting all the books. The only one besides The Need that I've read is On Earth We are Briefly Gorgeous, but have four of the others in hand and two on their way, leaving only two to check for in the local bookstore. It is an interesting mix, with only two authors I'm not familiar with (the books of stories).


message 8: by Karen Michele (last edited Sep 20, 2019 08:45AM) (new)

Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 197 comments I've barely started Inland, but am disappointed it's not on the list, just because I think I'm going to like it! I've read the James and Whitehead books and enjoyed them both. Marlon James has been in the US since his early childhood, ---is that what you meant about being qualified or is it the birthplace being Jamaica? I have most of the books on hold or in hand and am excited to read as many as possible before the shortlist. What does the group know about Fleishman is in Trouble? I hadn't heard of it, but there are 65 holds on it in my library system. What have I missed? I'm glad to hear good things about Helen Phillips. Thanks for the tip, LindaJ!


message 9: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments Karen Michele wrote: "I've barely started Inland, but am disappointed it's not on the list, just because I think I'm going to like it! I've read James and Whitehead and enjoyed them both. Marlon James has been in the US..."

https://bookmarks.reviews/reviews/fle...


message 10: by Scott (new)

Scott Boyd | 124 comments Overall, I'm a little disappointed. The list doesn't contain the diversity I had expected from this panel. Don't understand the love for The Other Americans (it was also recently nominated for the Kirkus Prize). I read it quickly months ago and thought it was just okay. Now, I suppose, I need to read it again. Unfamiliar with the short story collections, but they must be good to beat out Hempel and Russell. I'm more impressed with the translation longlist.


message 11: by Karin (new)

Karin (8littlepaws) | 26 comments Everything I've seen on Fleishman is in Trouble (and it's a lot) has been glowing.


message 12: by Karen Michele (new)

Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 197 comments Thank you for the review, Sam. It sounds like a good one that will test our beliefs and empathy, too.


message 13: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 672 comments So I now have all the books -- nice that all have been published before the long list announcement.

I'm going to start with a plug for the Helen Phillips' book The Need. My review -- https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Since I read it a couple of weeks ago, I've been pondering over what the author is trying to tell us. Today I found this interview with Phillips that explains how she came to write the book - https://www.kirkusreviews.com/feature... - and I thought others might enjoy it.


message 14: by Karin (new)

Karin (8littlepaws) | 26 comments Interesting interview! I am expecting my first baby in about 12 weeks. Thinking about if I want to read this book before, or after, I have the baby. I suspect I will have two very differing reading experiences.


message 15: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
Yet another year I'm sort of baffled by the NBA list. I never understand it, but OK.

I've read about half of these and considered reading all of them at one point or another. I had hopes for Inland too. I liked Trust Exercise quite a bit, but I get why others might not. Of the ones I've read, it's The Other Americans that I don't understand the hype for, and I'll hold off on explaining that for a day when I feel a bit less blunt.


message 16: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 672 comments The NBA fiction longlist, in my experience, typically has one or two books that are not novels but stories. This year there are two. I have finished one -- Sabrina & Corina: Stories. The stories all feature Latinas. Some are kids, some are adults, some are older adults. These are mostly stories of some sort of hardship or challenge. Some are excellent. What really stood out were the first sentences of each story. My review - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 17: by WndyJW (new)

WndyJW | 5567 comments Congratulations, Karin! That’s wonderful news. I had to smile when you wondered if you should read this book before or after the baby is born. I am going to strongly suggest you read as many books as you can before baby is born.

How fun to have a reason to read aloud. I loved reading Sandra Boynton, Jack Prelutsky, Shel Silverstein, AA Milne, and of course Dr. Seuss books to my kids and grandkids, and they all know I will buy them any book they ask for.

I avoid Amazon for the most part, but I do use it to surprise my grandkids with books delivered to their houses. Bonaparte Falls Apart and What Was I Scared Of? with glow in the dark ink were delivered to my 6 and 3 yr old grandsons today to start their October reading.

I’m sure you’ll figure out how to hold a book while feeding your baby soon enough, but good luck focusing on the page instead of a perfect tiny face.


message 18: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
My sister recently told me she hasn't read an adult book in 7 years - precisely the age of her oldest two.


message 19: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 672 comments I've read 3 more on the NBA fiction longlist.

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi has the most divergent reviews -- most readers either love or hate it. I disliked part of it and liked part of it, so gave it a 3! It may be the most experimental of the long list books. My review https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner also has some love and hate issues with reviewers but not to the same degree as Trust Exercise. It was more to my liking than Trust Exercise but I would have preferred equal time for Rachel. The book is about marriage and divorce, but mostly marriage. My review - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips is a first novel and quite good. Do not pay any attention to the GR blurb as it is quite wrong. If you want to know more about the author and why she wrote the book, check out this You Tube video - https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=.... My review - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I'm not going to finish the 4 remaining books before the shortlist is announced on October 8 as I will be traveling in Spain and too busy bicycling and touring to have much time for reading. I'll finish one more before leaving and perhaps get through 2 others on Kindle on the flights to and from Madrid.


message 20: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 672 comments One last post before boarding a plane to Madrid. I finished The Other Americans by Laila Lalami. To me it seemed the most "traditional" of the books 7 books on the longlist I have read. I did not think it was as good as The Moor's Account but it was an enjoyable read, if somewhat superficial. It is sort of a mystery -- who was the driver of the hit and run vehicle - but the core is discrimination and how people of color face an obstacle not placed in the path of Caucasians, at least in the US.


message 21: by Ella (last edited Oct 02, 2019 04:30PM) (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
LindaJ^ wrote: "One last post before boarding a plane to Madrid.

¡Disfrutes de las vacaciones en Madrid!


message 22: by Scott (new)

Scott Boyd | 124 comments My predictions for the shortlist announcement on Tuesday:

Disappearing Earth
Fleishman Is in Trouble
The Nickel Boys
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
Sabrina & Corina: Stories


message 23: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments Scott your picks seem fine to me. This was an odd year for U.S. fiction. I really was not motivated by many titles and a lot of books were flawed. I like the judges for getting some speculative literature on the list but that is about it. I've only read three and I have the Lalami coming, but I feel no real urge to read the list.


message 24: by Debra (new)

Debra (debrapatek) | 365 comments The only one I've read is On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous. I thought it was quite good.


message 25: by Scott (new)

Scott Boyd | 124 comments Sam wrote: "Scott your picks seem fine to me. This was an odd year for U.S. fiction. I really was not motivated by many titles and a lot of books were flawed. I like the judges for getting some speculative lit..."

Totally agree - not a stellar list. It will be first time I haven't completed the long list in many years.


message 26: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9671 comments And the shortlist is:

Susan Choi, Trust Exercise

Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Sabrina & Corina: Stories

Marlon James, Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Laila Lalami, The Other Americans

Julia Phillips, Disappearing Earth


message 27: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments This is surprising since I did not think they would advance Marlon James who is my favorite. I am still waiting on my copy of The Other Americans.


message 28: by Will (new)

Will | 56 comments Wasn’t expecting the Marlon James on there either, but I’m really excited for him


message 29: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 356 comments The only one that surprises me is Trust Exercise. I know there are many good reviews, but I wasn’t a fan.


message 30: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
Heh, and I feel that way about The Other Americans - so perhaps they just weren't our personal cuppa, but c'est la différence!


message 31: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 672 comments I did manage to read The Nickel Boys and Black Light: Stories while in Spain and before the short list was announced. Haven’t done my reviews yet but I loved Nickel Boys and hated Black Light. I have just started the Marlin James book, my last of the list, and not yet engaged. Short list missing the four I really liked. A rather disappointing year.


message 32: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
I finally pushed myself through Black Leopard, Red Wolf and I can't figure out why, but I just never really engaged with the book. Maybe it's just not the book for me. I suppose I may retry it once the series is complete. I admire Marlon James' writing very much, but sometimes it's hard for me to fall into the book and live there while reading him.


message 33: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments Ella wrote: "I finally pushed myself through Black Leopard, Red Wolf and I can't figure out why, but I just never really engaged with the book. Maybe it's just not the book for me. I suppose I m..."

I think that those who are disappointed in the Booker result should at least be thankful they are not having to deal with the mess that is this year's NBA award. I think that the final judgment of Black Leopard is going to depend on how well James handles the trilogy. If he is able to successfully carry off the different distinct perspectives in the future books an arrive at a satisfactory whole, it may be worthy. So, in a sense, Black Leopard doesn't belong there since it is one third of a whole. I hope the trilogy succeeds so the judges could be considered brilliant in seeing the promise in Black Leopard, but it would be a big risk to let it win.


message 34: by Karin (new)

Karin (8littlepaws) | 26 comments WndyJW wrote: "Congratulations, Karin! That’s wonderful news. I had to smile when you wondered if you should read this book before or after the baby is born. I am going to strongly suggest you read as many books ..."

Thanks! I think it is very sweet you send your grandkids surprise books! I will still have lots of reading time after baby is born, when I return to work, as I commute via train and that gives me plenty of down time to read!

I have yet to read any more of the long list--I'm trying to close out some reading goals from 2019 first before I pick up any more here, but do want to chime in and say the 5 short list books seem a little odd to me too. BL,RW didn't work for me personally and I doubt I'll read the rest of the trilogy. I also just didn't really engage with it. I'm sad to see Nickel Boys left off.


message 35: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 672 comments Paul wrote: "And the shortlist is:

Susan Choi, Trust Exercise

Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Sabrina & Corina: Stories

Marlon James, Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Laila Lalami, The Other Americans

Julia Phillips, Disappe..."


Of these, I liked Disappearing Earth the best and Trust Exercise the least. BL, RW is proving a challenge for me, but I will plug away for awhile longer in hopes of catching the flow.


message 36: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments I honestly would not want to be a judge for this award. Any ranking of the four I read off the shortlist would change with my mood as all have shortcomings that offset what I liked. BL,RW wqs an interesting read but I consider it part of a trilogy and without seeing the other volumes, I would pass, My next most preferred book is Trust Exercise which should at least provoke some interesting criticism if it wins.


message 37: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 672 comments Obviously I was not in tune with the judges this year, with Trust Exercise winning. Choi is just not an author I enjoy reading.


message 38: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
I find it completely impossible to compare something like Black Leopard to short stories that are all on one very tight subject to Susan Choi's exploration of trust and truth in a book that delighted me more b/c of the structure and surprise than the actual story. I have no idea which I'd pick if I were a judge. But I might have picked Choi just because I found that book so incredibly clevah!


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