The National Book Foundation rolled out the nominations for the 2009 National Book Award on Wednesday, and the winners will be announced November 18. There are some familiar names and titles, and some that are less so. As in past years, the list is sure to cause some commotion, and already has. According to the AP, large publishers have long complained about the lack of big-name titles in the list. This year's list is no exception: five books out of the twenty nominated are from small university presses. Skepticism is not uncommon when it comes to any of the literature prizes, unless you're the one winning them. When Hilary Mantel won the Booker Prize last week, her American publisher, Jack Macrae, said, "I never believed in prizes until this one."
EW's Shelf Life blog is already voicing frustrations about the choices. "I'm simply stunned by some of the omissions," says blogger Tina Jordan, "...the list of nominees looks inconsequential -- and the NBA looks a little silly -- when the year's truly great books are nowhere to be seen." Jordan lists Cheever: A Life, by Blake Bailey, Columbine, by Dave Cullen, The Mercy Papers, by Robin Romm, Asterios Polyp, by David Mazzuchelli, Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese, Sing Them Home, by Stephanie Kallos, A Monster's Notes, by Laurie Scheck, and This Is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper as glaring omissions.
Over at the Bookslut blog, a brief comment calls attention to the small presses that are recognized:
[O]nce again, the National Book Foundation has proved that they're in the thrall of soulless Manhattan publishing juggernauts such as...uh...Wayne State University Press? Well-played, National Book Foundation.
What we want to know, though, is what you think.
- Have you read any of the nominated titles?
FICTION AND NONFICTION:
Rae Armantrout, Versed
Ann Lauterbach, Or to Begin Again
Carl Phillips, Speak Low
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Open Interval
Keith Waldrop, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy
YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE:
Deborah Helligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith
Phillip Hoose, Chaudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
David Small, Stiches
Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times
Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped