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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006 12:15 pm
The Other NBA
Posted by: Keir Graff

Maybe the National Book Awards are our equivalent of the Man Booker Prize. As the Booker is given to a Brit (technically, a “a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland”), the NBA is given to a Yank (technically, “a citizen of the United States”). Both are judged by writers, although the Booker throws in critics and sometimes an actor. And both can be a bit unpredictable.

Anyway, moments ago, this year’s National Book Award finalists were announced:

Only Revolutions, by Mark Z. Danielewski (Pantheon) 
A Disorder Peculiar to the Country, by Ken Kalfus (Ecco) 
The Echo Maker, by Richard Powers (Farrar) 
Eat the Document, by Dana Spiotta (Scribner) 
The Zero, by Jess Walter (Regan)

At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68, by Taylor Branch (Simon & Schuster) 
Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran (Knopf) 
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, by Timothy Egan (Houghton) 
Oracle Bones:  A Journey Between China’s Past and Present, by Peter Hessler (HarperCollins)
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, by Lawrence Wright (Knopf)

Averno, by Louise Glück (Farrar) 
Chromatic, by H.L. Hix (Etruscan)
Angle of Yaw, by Ben Lerner (Copper Canyon)
Splay Anthem, by Nathaniel Mackey (New Directions) 
Capacity, by James McMichael (Farrar)

Young People’s Literature 
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party, by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick)
Keturah and Lord Death, by Martine Leavitt (Front Street)
Sold, by Patricia McCormick (Hyperion)
The Rules of Survival, by Nancy Werlin (Dial)
American Born Chinese, by Gene Luen Yang (Roaring Brook/First Second)

I’m pleased to see Richard Powers’ The Echo Maker, one of the best books I read all year, on the list. In August, I nominated it for the Booklist‘s Top of the List. But more on that later.

Do you have award fatigue yet? Don’t forget the Nobel Prize in Literature, which will be announced tomorrow. Get ready to say, “Who’s that again?”



3 Responses to “The Other NBA”
  1. John Says:

    I am so, so happy for Richard Powers. He should have about four national book awards so far. Also I hope he wins, since I have never heard of the other authors, which makes it difficult to root for them.

    Nobel prediction: Roth. Because it would make me so happy.

  2. John Says:

    Or maybe they’ll make an obviously political choice.


  3. Keir Says:

    As my great-grandfather used to say: “Yep, yep, yep.” (This in a tone of world-weary resignation.)

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