Monday, October 15, 2007

Books Literary Awards Day

Books Literary Awards Day
Posted by Chas Bowie on Thu, Oct 11 at 3:14 PM

The Nobel Prize in Literature was announced today; a lot of people are pissed that Philip Roth was passed over once again, which seems like a legitimate gripe. British author Doris Lessing won instead, which is alright with me, based solely on this interview blurb following her 1997 memoir, Walking in the Shade:

Were you surprised at the criticism you received after writing, in your first [memoir], about leaving the kids from your first marriage behind you?

Of course I wasn’t surprised. The thing was that this was a terrible thing to do, but I had to do it because I have no doubt whatsoever if I had not done it, I would have become an alcoholic or ended in the loony bin. I couldn’t stand that life. I just couldn’t bear it. It’s this business of giving all the time, day and night, trying to conform to something you hate. Nobody can do it without going crazy.

I hear you Doris. (On another Nobel-related note, last year’s winner, Orhan Pamuk, will be at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall next Tuesday, Oct 16.

The National Book Award shortlist was announced today, and after seeing Miranda July on nearly every other major lit award list this year, I was kind of shocked not to see her on the list.

Mischa Berlinski, Fieldwork
Lydia Davis, Varieties of Disturbance
Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End
Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke
Jim Shepard, Like You’d Understand, Anyway

Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I’m Dying
Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
Woody Holton, Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution
Arnold Rampersad, Ralph Ellison: A Biography
Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA

I started reading the Denis Johnson book on vacation last week, and it’s pretty incredible. (Jim Shepard is a great writer, too; he’ll be in town in January, I believe.) But if I had to place bets on this one, I’d have to predict Johnson and Danticat in the end. The lingering effects of violence is a hard theme to beat in ‘07, and both are seriously skilled crafts(wo)men.

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