Open City by Teju Cole
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (my review)
The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst
Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman (my review)
Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta
I've read two of the five finalists already. I'm glad to see Jeffrey Eugenides make the cut, as I think The Marriage Plot is a wise, delightful novel. It's certainly one that appeals to book critics, given all of its overt literature references! It had plenty of hype, but the critical acclaim has been somewhat lacking on prize lists. While I thought Edith Pearlman's story collection Binocular Vision peaked too early (it's first story was it's best), I'm not surprised to see this National Book Award finalist here. As readers of this blog know, I greatly prefer novels to short stories, and this bias may be evident in my uneven reaction to this acclaimed collection of stories.
The three I have yet to read are all on my TBR already. Open City is one of the Tournament of Books contenders, and it's near the top of my TBR pile. Alan Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child made the Booker longlist and the Tournament of Books field. Dana Spiotta's Stone Arabia made Entertainment Weekly's Top 10 of 2011, and I hope to make time for it soon too.
It's easy to focus on what's missing from this list, but I'm choosing to see it as a sign of how many excellent novels were published in 2011. None of these titles are a huge surprise; they've all appeared on another prize list or Best of 2011 list. With the Pulitzer list still to come, I'm still hoping Ben Lerner's majestic Leaving the Atocha Station can make an appearance on its list.
I'll be reviewing the three remaining titles in preparation for the March 8th announcement and bringing you my prediction (and personal preference) before the winner is officially announced.
Now tell me: which title do you think will win the National Book Critics Circle Award? Which one are you rooting for?
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