Join the Books Editor Andrew Losowsky as he waits for the big announcement. Tweet comments at @huffpostbooks, email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave your comments below. Thank you, and now we bring your scheduled entertainment.
*The MC quietly puts the penguin back into his pocket. He tries to make himself heard over the chaos.*
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you. A worthy winner, one predicted by the bookmakers, the public, and indeed even our own humble reviewer.
We hope you have enjoyed our humble offering. The bar is to your left. Perhaps we will see each other again some time soon. We hear the National Book Awards have traditionally lacked Antarctic waterfowl at their events...
*The MC waves to the crowd. The spotlight goes out. The stage is in darkness. The hubbub fades. A cloud fills the room. You close your eyes. And beyond these, there is unrest. There is great unrest.*
"The Winner Is Julian Barnes"
*The penguin opens its beak and channels the voice of Dame Stella Rimington. The MC merely bows his head. A tiny spotlight is now focused on the penguin's beak. The rest of the room is in darkness.*
*The tiny penguin runs over to him, hugs his ankles. The MC smiles, picks him up, then raises the microphone stand again, speaks into it without ceremony*
And now, ladies and gentlemen, the hour is upon us.
The LA Times said that "If Cormac McCarthy had a sense of humor, he might have concocted a story like Patrick deWitt's bloody, darkly funny western "The Sisters Brothers."
Our reviewer liked it as well.
*The penguin smiles, or at least the closest a penguin can come to a smile*
It's The Sisters Brothers, a Western from Canadian author Patrick deWitt.
*The MC nods, lowers the microphone to the floor so the penguin can speak into it and then leaves the stage*
Julian Barnes has been nominated three times before, but this is seen as his best hope.
But will it win?
*The penguin flaps its wings twice, does a twirl, as the spotlight moves to its final destination*
Those are all things that we can say that haven't been said.
What can we say, what CAN WE SAY about Julian Barnes that hasn't already been said?
Expert parachutist, underwater marksman, a man with 17 wisdom teeth on EACH SIDE OF HIS JAW!
|@ rudyard49 : @HuffPostBooks Of course we're reading this. (Pssst... I'm two tables over waving my fork at you.) #manbookerprize|
Please, everyone, be upstanding forrrrrrrrr THE FAVORITE!
*He adopts the tone of a boxing announcer as the crowds start to cheer*
Coming in at 153 pages, IT IS 'THE SENSE OF AN ENDINGGGGGGGGGGGAHHHHHH'
It has perhaps the best online presence of the list, and was described by...
*The penguin nips at the MC's nose. The MC holds the tip of his nose in pain, but doesn't drop the penguin, which then continues the speech that it was expecting to deliver*
"Described by The Guardian as "both a very good novel and a slightly disappointing one... Some characters feel as if they've wandered in from a Bond film."
*The MC grins*
"This book is based loosely on the tragic story of Damiola Taylor, a ten-year-old immigrant from Nigeria who was stabbed to death in 2000. The author, who grew up in a similar housing estate to Taylor, aimed to tell a story about a side of Britain that is only ever represented in broad, negative terms."
*The MC goes onto one knee, holds out his hand. The tiny penguin gratefully hops onto it and is hoisted back up to the microphone, where it continues, in a slightly wavering voice*
The Daily Telegraph says that this book, apparently picked up from a publisher's slush pile, "has a powerful story, a pacy plot and engaging characters. It paints a vivid portrait with honesty, sympathy and wit, of a much neglected milieu, and it addresses urgent social questions."
It's PIIIIIIIGEON ENGLISH!
The first book - the very first - from Stephen Kelman. And what a book it is, telling the tale of Harrison Okupu, an eleven-year-old boy living in a housing project in London.
*The penguin attempts an impersonation of a pigeon, cooing and flapping its wings in a manner that it hopes approximates flight. Someone throws a bread roll at it, with remarkable accuracy. The penguin looks down at the stage floor, shaking its head slowly.*
This is Carol Birch's 11th novel, yet her first to appear in the USA.
Our own reviewer DID NOT LIKE this book. Which puts him in a minority of one among literary circles, it seems.
*The crowd boos obligingly, the MC holds up his hands*
We know, we know.
*The penguin looks at the MC. The MC looks at the penguin. They both shrug*
Anybody with an opinion out there? *shields his eyes to see. The penguin is handed a card that reads "Tweet @huffpostbooks, leave a comment below or email email@example.com with your reviews of any of these books"
*The MC grabs the penguin, and holds it up to the microphone again. It speaks, with a new edge of smugness in its voice*
The Washington Post called this book "a moving, fantastically exciting sea tale that takes you back to those great 19th-century stories that first convinced you “there is no frigate like a book.”
*The crowd applauds wildly*
The second - SECOND TRUE STORY *the crowd buzz slowly quietens as the MC's voice gets louder* is that of four men, a lifeboat and a terrible game of straws.
A sorry tale, to be sure.
*The MC lowers his head in sorrow*
*The MC carefully places the tip of his shoe onto the brim of the hat*
(Image via the Public Monument and Sculpture Association)
Ittttt's "Jamrach's Menagerieeeeeeeee!"
*The band starts to play some more upbeat jazz, the penguin leaps down and begins an elaborate tap dance number. The MC places his top hat over the penguin. The hat remains still*
This tale is based on not one but TWO unbelievable tales. The first of a menagerie owner in London, whose escaped tiger truly did pick up a small boy in his teeth, and place him to the ground unharmed.
Of course, our reviewer said that it was "a good read, with warm yet flawed characters, and it wears its historical research lightly."
This is one of two Canadian entries, and the only one not to have been released yet in the USA. It's Esi Edugyan's second book.
But WILL IT BE A WINNER??
*The audience mumbles to itself. The MC feels a little ignored. The penguin nips at his fingertips*
*The MC reaches into his pocket, and pulls out a penguin, about five inches high. It balances on his palm. He reaches it up to the microphone. The penguin starts to speak, pretty much in the kind of voice you'd expect to hear from a five-inch speaking penguin.*
The Independent newspaper in the UK said that this book "is truly extraordinary in its evocation of time and place, its shimmering jazz vernacular, its pitch-perfect male banter and its period slang."
*The MC smiles beatifically*
We have, in alllllphabetical order, HALF BLOOD BLUES!
The tale of a jazz band, the Nazis and a missing friend. Anyone here read it, and would like to comment? Anyone? *places a hand over his eyes, looks out into the crowd*
Ladies and Gentlemen, the nominees!