September 23, 2009

Readers Can Vote on Best National Book Award Book! Too Cool!

Article from The New York Times Art Beat on September 22, 2009.

Best Book? Now the Readers Can Decide.

The National Book Award is jumping on the “American Idol” bandwagon.

Beginning Monday, readers can now vote on the best work of fiction to win the National Book Award in the past 59 years. The winner will be announced on Nov. 18 at the National Book Awards ceremony to be held at a black-tie event at Cipriani Wall Street.

The six finalists show that the recent renaissance in short stories (see: Oprah Winfrey’s choice of “Say You’re One of Them” by Uwem Akpan) may have historical precedent. Four of the six finalists for the best of the National Book Awards are short-story collections: “The Stories of John Cheever,” William Faulkner’s “Collected Stories,” “The Complete Stories” of Flannery O’Connor and “The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty.” The two other selections are Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” and Thomas Pynchon’s “Gravity’s Rainbow.”

In July, the National Book Foundation, which administers the awards that compete with the Pulitzer Prize for prestige, invited 600 former judges, winners and finalists in all of its categories (the prize is also awarded for nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature) to select three of their favorites from the 77 past fiction winners. (In some years, the fiction award was given to more than one author.)

Of those asked, 140 responded, leading to the list of six finalists. Of course there were many, many winners that did not garner even one vote. Nevertheless, Harold Augenbrau, the executive director of the foundation, said he had read all 77 of the past winners and had been blogging about many of the unsung winners, including “The Waters of Kronos” by Conrad Richter; “The Field of Vision” by Wright Morris; and “Dale Loves Sophie to Death” by Robb Forman Dew.

Readers can vote at through Oct. 21.


  1. I voted! But I do think it's odd that there is such an emphasis on short story collections.

  2. I thought that the short story collections were weird, too, especially as they seemed to be "the Collected Stories of ______", not like, collections authors wrote between novels or something.


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