This Book takes the Prize: National Book Award

Looking for something new to read? Check out some of the National Book Award winners from the Port Jefferson Free Library!

It’s that time again! The National Book Award winners have been announced.

The Award is given by the non-profit National Book Foundation. A total of twenty judges (five in each of the four award categories) determine the winners. The Foundation itself is not involved in the deliberations. In order to be considered a candidate, a book must have been written by an American citizen and published by an American publisher between December 1, 2011 and November 30, 2012. All submissions are reviewed by their respective judges and a shortlist of five titles is prepared. Here are the lucky winners of this year’s award:

Fiction: The Round House by Louise Erdich

Set in the Ojibwe Native American community of North Dakota, this book returns to the setting of Erdich’s The Plague of Doves. Geraldine Coutts, tribal enrollment manager is brutally attacked and raped. She barely escapes with her life. She refuses to identify her attacker. Bazil, (Geraldine’s husband) and thirteen year old son Joseph undertake their own investigation. The investigation is complicated by legal ambiguities concerning the location of the attack- was it on federal, state or tribal lands? The investigation forces thirteen year old Joe to grow up much faster than he ever thought.

Nonfiction: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

Boo, a New Yorker staff writer and Pulitzer prize winning reporter has written her first book. Its subject is Mumbai, India the perfect representative of the new globalized India. Its brand new airport and luxury hotels are a marked contrast to Annawadi, a shantytown slum that is along the highway to the airport. The author focuses on a handful of the inhabitants. There is teenaged Abdul who sells recyclables to support his family. Other individuals profiled included: Asha, the slum’s leader who tried to escape using any and all connections including her own body. Asha now works to see that her daughter Manju can go to college and escape. They are people who are struggling to survive in a world that does not want to acknowledge their existence.

Poetry: Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations by David Ferry

As the title states this poetry collection is a mixture of Ferry’s own works as well as well as translations of works by Virgil, Rilke, and Catullus. At age 88, Ferry focuses on memories. death, and life after after. The translated works are selected to match the themes being explored in Ferry’s own works.

Young People’s Literature: Goblin Secrets by Williams Alexander

Blending Russian Fairy tale figure, Baba Yaga, steampunk, and theatre this book is Alexander’s debut. Graba, a witch, with chicken-like gear work legs, shelters young orphans in Zombay. In exchange for shelter the orphans work for Graba. Rownie and his brother Rowan live and work for Graba until Rowan runs away to join an acting troop of goblins. Rownie decides to set off and find his brother. Graba is not far behind hunting for Rownie. In an interesting turn the story is written in acts and scenes like a staged drama.

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Robert Makofsky November 30, 2012 at 12:43 AM
I love the work of Louise Eldridge, I am glad she has received recognition. Thanks for the post. Another good read: Mr. Pelgrew's Last Stand. Authur recieved her MFA in writing at Stony Brook,Southampton.
Monica Williams, Librarian November 30, 2012 at 12:48 AM
I have to say I haven't tried her works, but I did read the other book- Major Pettigrew. It was terrific. The first time I ever read a book in public (on a NYC bus no less) and someone commented on how much they enjoyed it. Not my usual fare, but a nice change of pace.


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