Time has gotten away from me! When the finalists for the National Book Award were first announced, I read and ruminated on the poetry category, but then promptly forgot that the Award was coming up so soon in my rush to read the Giller Prize nominees, to re-read everything remotely related to Neuromancer before I did the SFF Audio podcast Sunday (will post in another week), and finish Brideshead Revisited before tomorrow night's book club. Phew, I've been a busy reader! I need to write posts about some of these things as well, and hope to this week.
I'm not going to have time to track down copies of the fiction finalists for the NBA before Wednesday. What I pledge to you is that I will read the previews provided by Amazon.com, and try to make guesses from those limited encounters. For tonight, I will make completely uneducated guesses as to the success of these books based entirely on the cover designs.
This cover is pretty drab, really, and I wouldn't even pick this one up to take a look if I was gazing at a display of books at a store. The dust makes me think historical novel, which is not usually my favorite. It also brings to mind last year's winner, which was my least favorite of the set. So in that thought pattern - high likelihood of a win, low likelihood that I'll like it. I just read the publisher blurb, and more than just dust, this is a war book. Just not my thing. Okay, not so much reading envy for this title, although I still plan to read the preview.
This is eye-catching. It has that kind of trendy instagram feeling while also looking nostalgic. I note from the cover that these are short stories, rare for a National Book Award finalist. That sets it apart, and would read as a breath of fresh air. Something about it feels depressing and historic, probably urban, and I'm thinking dear god not another war story. The nice thing about short stories is that they don't tend to all be about the same things. This will also mean that my preview is bound to be less representative than it will be for the novels.
Dog on the cover... dog on the cover... what does that remind me of? Oh yeah, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime which I just re-read for SFF Audio. That makes me expect this to be more of a modern story, probably not so broad in spectrum, maybe a family drama instead of something historically based. The word salvage is a clue, and maybe bones too - probably not a cheery tune. Prediction - I will like it! I guess we shall see!
Tea Obrecht was recently signing books at Hub City Bookshop in Spartanburg, SC. It was on a night I just couldn't make it over in time because of a meeting I couldn't miss, but I remember this book's description grabbing me when the list was just posted. Since I won't read it in time for the award anyway, I'm going to save it to read during my Around the World reading challenge next year. Since the author was born in Belgrade, it even fits my criteria.I'm not sure the cover is what draws me in - but the name is definitely memorable. If I had to guess, I'd expect this to win the prize just based on my gut reaction. Don't trust it! I was completely wrong in 2010.
This looks the least like a typical nominee to me. Just from the cover, I'd expect it to be making the "book club light" circuit, where books like the Jane Austen Book Club or The Help end up. Nothing against those books, they just aren't the same "literary" circuit. Wow, I could really make some people mad. I hope you understand what I'm saying. This is from the cover alone. I don't know if this book actually has an attic at all. My prediction is that it has the potential not to be memorable. I will be happy for it to prove me wrong!