Wednesday, October 15, 2008

No Story Collections Among The National Book Award Finalists

Of course, I'm disappointed that none of the five finalists for the National Book Award for fiction are short story collections. There were some good ones this year, however, I don't want to tip our hand by saying what I think should have been in the mix. Still, the judges--Gail Godwin, Rebecca Goldstein, Elinor Lipman, Reginald McKnight, and Jess Walter--read 271 books, and having not read the same ones, it's hard to take issue with their choices. They deserve a lot of credit for devoting themselves to this task. My wife, Alice, was a judge in 2003, and I know what a huge, time-consuming job it is. In any event, at face value, it looks like the panel made interesting choices, and I hope this will bring more readers to what are sure to be very worthwhile books.

The finalists, by the way, are:
Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project (Riverhead)
Rachel Kushner, Telex from Cuba (Scribner)
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country (Modern Library)
Marilynne Robinson, Home (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Salvatore Scibona, The End (Graywolf Press)