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Thread: National Book Award

  1. #21
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    Default Re: National Book Award 2015

    Which was sort of my point. These lists don't usually reflect the best literature in the language because, instead of focusing on good writing, they pay lip service to political agendas the judges find themselves agreeing with. Still, occasionally, like once every thousand years, a book wins that is both politically aware AND beautifully written.

  2. #22
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    Default Re: National Book Award 2015

    Quote Originally Posted by Liam View Post
    And I think good literature ought to surpass considerations of gender, race, sexuality and class--and awards should be given for good writing, not good politics. I agree with hoodoo's point above--this list probably does not represent the "best of the best" published in the U.S. last year. But such are the times we live in. Or perhaps it was ever so.

    Prizes and awards usually reflect the fashion, including political fads, of their time; I mean, just look at the Nobel Prize! Would an author like Elfriede Jelinek win circa 1925? Would Sigrid Undset win circa 2015? I don't think so. The former would probably have been deemed vulgar and immoral and the latter would (with good reason) be judged as boring because she's not political enough. And yet they both won the Nobel Prize. Why?
    You're right, Liam. My point, and I don't think I made it clear enough, was that historically few women were ever considered for serious prizes in any area and this reality is changing. This is the the welcome twist. We were used to see the opposite: lists where women were exceptions. And now the NBA presents a longlist like this.

    I'm in no position to judge the works, as I haven't read them. Hope they're there for literary merits. As I mentioned before, the only want that interests me is Jesmyn Ward.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: National Book Award

    The National Book Award has been considerably dumbed down over the last few years. Former judges have spoken out about it and essentially condemned the award.

    To start with, the award is essentially a pay to play scam that forces publishers to fork over money while they all congratulate each other for doing so. Publishers must pay fees for every book they chose to nominate and then agree to pay all expenses involved if one of their nominees is listed and has has to fly or appear at events. This alone means that large publishing houses publishing more "readable," popular works and making more money will be able to spend large amounts to assure that they have more works out for consideration. Smaller publishers by contrast cannot spend as much and their works go unnoticed.

    A few years ago they changed the process used for selecting judges. They basically dumbed it down so that non-experts (bookstore owners, etc) can be judges.

    This article from last year does a decent job of explaining things

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/the-nat...s-gone-to-hell

  4. #24

    Default Re: National Book Award

    Really interesting article!

    This one is also interesting : http://www.thedailybeast.com/will-co...-great-fiction

  5. #25
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    Default Re: National Book Award

    Quote Originally Posted by hoodoo View Post
    Really interesting article!

    This one is also interesting : http://www.thedailybeast.com/will-co...-great-fiction
    Commercialit. A fitting term. I've also seen these types of works frequently labeled as "Lit Light."

  6. #26

    Default Re: National Book Award

    After review, I decided that I will try and check out Her Body and Other Parties : Stories by Carmen Maria Machado. The reason being that it was published by Graywolf, an independant press, that I respect. They published a few of Joshua Cohens earlier works. But the book hasn't even been released yet (slated for october 3rd)

  7. #27
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    Default Re: National Book Award


  8. #28
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    Default Re: National Book Award

    Quote Originally Posted by Isahoinp View Post
    Commercialit. A fitting term. I've also seen these types of works frequently labeled as "Lit Light."
    I agree. It's weird how the actual publishing industry has a stranglehold on these kinds of things. In the US books tend to published in page counts of 14 little packets of pages to be glued in depending on the company. You can honestly see where books are artificially lengthened or shortened based on costs. So many books come in at 337, 272, or other eerily identical page counts to account for the needs of the printer.

    Also, it's apparently US MFA 101 to put the words "detritus" and "avuncular" in every new novel, to use the parable of the frog in cold water, or to have your characters react to "Claire de Lune".

    I end up reading less popular old mean British ladies from the 30s-60s because they didn't play around and aren't beholden to these constraints.

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