Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2011 National Book Award Finalists: First Thoughts

The five finalists for this year's National Book Award in Fiction are:

The Sojourn  by Andrew Krivak
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht (my reveiew)
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (my review)
Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories by Edith Pearlman
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

My thoughts
I've read two of the books. I thoroughly enjoyed Julie Otsuka's The Buddha in the Attic, and I'm thrilled to see it honored here. Although I think Tea Obreht is brilliant, The Tiger's Wife fell flat for me as a novel.

I've heard wonderful things about Salvage the Bones from both Wendy at Caribou's Mom and Audra at Unabridged Chick. I was in the library holds line for it, but I opted to buy it for my Kindle instead.

The other two titles are new to me. The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak comes from the revered Bellevue Literary Press. Somehow it wasn't on my radar, but it looks outstanding. I ordered it for my Kindle and will likely pick it up after I finish The Marriage Plot. The last title is the only collection of stories. I've never read Edith Pearlman, but I welcome this opportunity to explore her short fiction in Binocular Vision.

The winner will be announced November 16, 2011. I'll be reviewing the three titles I have not yet read over the coming weeks, and I'll weigh in with my prediction on the 16th. 

Now tell me: which title are you rooting for?

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  1. Our NBA reading is almost identical and I hadn't heard of Pearlman or Krivak either. I look forward to seeing what you think of them and reading Buddha in the Attic soon.

  2. I've only read The Tigers Wife and yeah even though her writing skill is great I'm not rooting for that one. I'm thinking I'm going to read The Buddha one and then possibly Salvage the Bones. I bet The Buddha in the Attic wins!

  3. I can't wait to read Salvage the Bones - I was intrigued by the few reviews I saw last month, especially Wendy's. The Tiger's Wife still doesn't interest me. The Sojourn also looks good.

  4. I really want to read Buddha in the Attic as it's set in SF but other than that I'll be watching for your reviews to see if I should add anymore to add them to my TBR!

  5. Well, I was thrilled to see both Obreht's and Ward's novels on the short list as I gave both of them 5 stars. Either one is deserving of the win (and I was so glad to see female authors nominated this year too).

  6. I really had problems with Salvage the Bones. The writing was very emotional and wonderful, but the subject matter was at times gruesome for me. I have a hard time with dog fighting, and though I could appreciate the symbolism and themes that Ward was working on, the framework and plot were, at times, too much for me.

  7. I'm kind of kicking myself for not accepting a review copy of Salvage the Bones. I'd just finished The Kid by Sapphire, and I couldn't take any more brutality for a while. Let me know how it is!

  8. I read the Sojourn earlier in the year, I got a copy from LTER. I never realized it was on the radar for awards, I haven't read the others, so right now I'm routing for it. Although I have been thinking about reading the Tiger's Wife for a while.

  9. I absolutely loved The Buddha in the Attic. Looking forward to reading Salvage the Bones and The Sojourn.

  10. I was very surprised that Open City was not on the list. I have more reading to do before I can say who should win - luckily, the finalists are short! I've posted some more commentary in a blog entry (here).

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