Uncategorized | October 17, 2004

The finalists for the National Book Awards have been announced and already the complaints have begun. In fiction, where for the first time in the award’s 55-year history, all of the finalists are women, evidently there are those who believe some of the selected books have not been popular enough (in other words, have not sold enough), and, therefore, should not be under consideration. Evidently, the National Book Awards are just another popularity contest and should not be construed as based on literary merit. Among the five–finalists in fiction–Florida, by Christine Schutt (TriQuarterly); Madeline Is Sleeping, by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum (Harcourt); Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories, by Joan Silber (W.W. Norton & Company); The News From Paraguay, by Lily Tuck (HarperCollins); and Our Kind: A Novel in Stories, by Kate Walbert (Scribner)–it appears that only Walbert’s contribution has sold as many as 2,500 copies to date.

This year’s judges–Rick Moody, Linda Hogan, Randall Kenan, Stewart O’Nan and Susan Straight–selected from 272 entries.