National Book Award Finalists Announced—My Thoughts on the Fiction Finalists
October 12, 2011 by Amy
You can see the full list here.
- Andrew Krivak (“The Sojourn”),
- Tea Obreht (“The Tiger’s Wife”),
- Julie Otsuka (“The Buddha in the Attic”),
- Edith Pearlman (“Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories”),
- Jesmyn Ward (“Salvage the Bones”)
I hadn’t heard of the others. The Sojourn (and our only finalist by a male author!) is set during WWI and features a Austro-Hungarian man sent to the front lines as a sharp shooter. It sounds like war: rough, dirty, hard. I’ll probably skip it.
The Buddha in the Attic
is about Japanese mail-order-brides in early 1900’s San Francisco and Binocular Vision
is a collection of 21 vintage short stories and 13 new ones. Both are potentially interesting to me, though I’m not much of a short story fan. I don’t like not knowing the kind of story I’m reading. What if it’s too sad or too scary or upsets me too much or isn’t my sense of humor or any other of hundreds of reason I choose not to read something? I like to know what I’m getting, and it’s hard to judge with short stories.
Finally, Salvage the Bones (which will definitely *not* be on my to-read list) is about a family in Mississippi during a hurricane.
I’m impressed by the global focus of these tales. Only two take place in the United States, and one of those features immigrants adapting to their new lives. Given all the criticism I’ve read bout gender in publishing and awards recognition, it’s also nice to see so many female authors honored.