A friend alerted me today to a reading two weeks hence, in which the finalists
for the National Book Award will read from their books. My first thought was, wow, how cool!
(I am well aware, by the way, that this is further confirmation that I am the Biggest Dork Ever
.) Anyway, my second thought was, Jesus, are they
all going to read?
There are twenty finalists, after all, plus Philip Gourevitch, who I'm sure will want to take the opportunity to say a few words, and I enjoy a reading as much as the next person, or even a little more than the next person, depending on whom I'm sitting next to, but twenty readers? Is this some kind of cruel psychological experiment? Whatever, I'm totally going.
But before I do, I'm going to make my predictions on who's going to win the National Book Award in each category. I'll give you the list so you can play along! And don't feel bad about making uninformed guesses: out of these authors' entire oeuvres I've read maybe one book, one story, and three poems, and I've only even heard of 8 of them. But I have a really good feeling about this. Projected winners in bold.Fiction
E.L. Doctorow, The MarchMary Gaitskill, Veronica
Christopher Sorrentino, Trance
René Steinke, Holy Skirts
William T. Vollmann, Europe CentralNonfiction
Alan Burdick, Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion
Leo Damrosch, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless GeniusJoan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers
Adam Hochschild, Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves Poetry
John Ashbery, Where Shall I Wander
Frank Bidart, Star Dust: Poems
Brendan Galvin, Habitat: New and Selected Poems, 1965-2005
W.S. Merwin, Migration: New and Selected PoemsVern Rutsala, The Moment’s EquationYoung People's LiteratureJeanne Birdsall, The Penderwicks
Adele Griffin, Where I Want to Be
Chris Lynch, Inexcusable
Walter Dean Myers, Autobiography of My Dead Brother
Deborah Wiles, Each Little Bird That Sings
And now I'm going to make a special one-time offer: for each one I get right, you have to give me a dollar. For each one I get wrong, the first person to contact me (through the comments) after the announcement will get a dollar. If I get them all right, you have to give me $10. If I get them all wrong, that first person will get $10. I never used to like gambling, but this is pretty exciting. I'm off to play the ponies!