Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oscars, Shmoscars

Those of us who don't often get out to the movies, and who have impossibly long Netflix queues, might find ourselves completely out of the loop when Oscar time comes around. So when finalists for the National Book Critics Circle awards were recently announced, I felt a small glimmer of hope. Perhaps at this awards ceremony there will be someone to root for! What have you read on the list, and what did you think? Which books will/should win? Are there other books you think should have made the list? And most importantly, what will the finalists wear on their walk down the red carpet? (There is a red carpet and paparazzi... right?)

A few observations: noticing (without judgment, just noticing) Jennifer Egan is the only woman on the fiction list. Enjoyed Freedom with all its challenges (review), and have been wanting to read A Visit From The Goon Squad and Skippy Dies (gave both as gifts this holiday season - sis, what did you think?) David Grossman's book has been getting rave reviews - he was featured in a very interesting article in The New Yorker this past Fall. And though I've said it before, I'll say it again - The Warmth of Other Suns is outstanding, nice to see it there. So many other potentially interesting books on the list, & looking forward to learning more about them. So much to read, so little time.....

In the top categories:

Jennifer Egan, A Visit From The Goon Squad, Knopf
Jonathan Franzen. Freedom. Farrar, Straus And Giroux.
David Grossman, To The End Of The Land. Translated by Jessica Cohen. Knopf.
Hans Keilson.Comedy In A Minor Key. Translated by Damion Searls. Farrar, Straus And Giroux
Paul Murray. Skippy Dies. Faber & Faber.

Sarah Bakewell. How To Live, Or A Life Of Montaigne. Other Press
Selina Hastings. The Secret Lives Of Somerset Maugham: A Biography. Random House.
Yunte Huang. Charlie Chan: The Untold Story Of The Honorable Detective And His Rendezvous With American History. Norton.
Thomas Powers. The Killing Of Crazy Horse. Knopf.
Tom Segev. Simon Wiesenthal: The Lives And Legends. Translated by Ronnie Hope. Doubleday
Kai Bird, Crossing Mandelbaum Gate Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978, Scribner
David Dow, The Autobiography of an Execution, Twelve
Christopher Hitchens Hitch-22: A Memoir, Twelve
Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, Hiroshima in the Morning, Feminst Press
Patti Smith, Just Kids, Ecco
Darin Strauss, Half a Life, McSweeney’s
Awards will be presented in March at a ceremony at The New School in New York, and if there really is a red carpet, I'm picturing Jonathan Franzen in a conservative-yet-stylish literary-chic tux, Paul Murray in something indie and edgy, and Jennifer Egan in something feminine and glamorous, but not frivolous. Will Patti Smith wear a gown, or arrive in her best black leather?

  • For a complete list of categories and finalists click here
  • For excerpts from the finalists list click here
  • For additional links to articles/interviews about/from some of the other authors check out Book Buzz-Links of Interest on the right of the page


  1. Haven't had a chance to read them yet! Aaaaalmost done with Schteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story (recommend recommend recommend) and then onto Skippy and Goon Squad. Will report in when I get there, for sure :)

  2. Love to know what you think when you do!

  3. Thanks for entering my giveaway!

    I'm a new follower now btw! :o)

  4. I'd love to see Selina Hastings win with her biography of Somerset Maugham. She is a fantastic biographer - I highly recommend her life of Nancy Mitford.

  5. One to look out for! Thanks for the recommendation, Deborah.

  6. New follower and enjoy this blog. So nice to have a list of books that have some meaning.
    Mike Draper

  7. Mike, thanks so much! I enjoy/am following yours as well. Looking forward to more of your reviews. Happy reading/reviewing!


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