Is anyone else feeling underwhelmed? The National Book Award’s were announced this week.
- Column McCann – Let the Great World Spin (fiction)
- T.J. Stiles – The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (non-fiction)
- Keith Waldrop – Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (poetry)
- Phillip Hoose – Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice (young people’s literature)
I can’t offer much of an opinion on the winners, as I’ve only read one book from those that had been originally nominated. Both KevinfromCanada and Trevor at The Mookse and the Gripes have much more to offer on that front, and I strongly recommend visiting those blogs for insightful reviews of both the nominees and the winners.
Personally, I find The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor winning The Best of the National Book Awards Fiction much more interesting (and slightly disturbing, though not for the obvious reasons). The winner was chosen directly by the voting public. O’Connor beat out William Faulkner, Ralph Ellison, Thomas Pynchon, Eudora Welty and John Cheever. Call me cynical, but in my mind O’Connor’s triumph has more to do with her recent resurgence in popularity, than with her importance as an author. Consider the following quote, from O’Connor, discussing her relationship as a Southern writer to William Faulkner:
The presence alone of Faulkner makes a great difference in what the writer can and cannot permit himself to do. Nobody wants his mule and wagon stalled on the same track the Dixie Limited is roaring down.
It makes you wonder.