The Red Carpet for Novels

Four names stand tallest in the world of prestigious accolades for writers: The Nobel Prize for Literature The Man Booker PrizeThe Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Awards.

The National Book Awards have been a thing since as far back as 1936. It’s open to U.S authors only and features prizes in five categories –

Finalists – of which there are five in each category – receive $1,000, a medal, and a citation written by the judging panel; winners gets $10,000 and a bronze sculpture.

The judging panel this year comprises six people, including a professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, the reader-services coordinator for the New York Public Library and an author who won last years National Book Award for Fiction.

Congratulations to the following titles and their authors who all made the longlist for Fiction. They include three debut novels.

(1) A story about children on the cusp of adulthood in worlds in peril. Dedicated to “The librarians then, now, and in the years to come.”

(2) Cast out of the royal court by Eleanor of Aquitaine, seventeen-year-old Marie de France is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey.

(1) Evicted from their trailer on New Year’s Eve, Henry and his son, Junior, have been reduced to living out of a pickup truck.

(2) Spanning an entire lifetime, this is an intimate portrait of the dreams that propel one tenacious woman onward and the losses that she cannot outrun.

(1) A young girl named Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, cruelty and resilience.

(2) Tensions build on a plantation between slaves and slave masters.

(1) An interpreter goes to work for a former President accused of war crimes. Apparently one of former U.S President Barack Obama’s favourite ‘summer reads’.

(2) Short story collection from award -winning author Elizabeth McCracken.

(1)  An author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel.

(2) Astrobiologist Theo Byrne searches for life throughout the cosmos while single-handedly raising his unusual nine-year-old, Robin, following the death of his wife.

That’s fine. That’s dandy. That’s even, as the British might say ‘cracking’. But what does Scenic Writer’s Shack REALLY think?

Well… considering some of those stodgy and all-round snore-rendous plot synopses as well as the fact these awards have been criticized in the past for being irrelevant to average readers – favoring qualities like fragmented story telling that, though they be fancy shmanzy, in some cases actually put off many readers – and are of more interest to professional writers – I’d say SWS‘s thoughts may best be captured by the following cartoon –

The Winner of the NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS will be announced on November 17th.