The National Book Critics Circle have announced this year finalists ranging from criticism, to poetry, to biography to fiction. I’m only interested in the fiction category so here are the five nominees.
- Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman (Grove Press)
- Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings (Riverhead Books)
- Lily King, Euphoria (Atlantic Monthly Press)
- Chang-rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea (Riverhead Books)
- Marilynne Robinson, Lila (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
I’ve linked to my reviews of the two books I’ve read on the list. I wasn’t that fond of Lila, but I accept that my opinion is very much in the minority. On the other hand I really liked An Unnecessary Woman, even if it is a difficult and uncompromising book.
Of the three nominees I haven’t read, I note that Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea is set in a dystopian future. I’m not aware of Lee’s work so I can’t say whether this is his first attempt to write speculative fiction. But once again, we have a literary award acknowledging genre work, even if the author isn’t part of the genre ghetto.
While Marlon James novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, is over 700 pages long (about 250,000 words) the premise looks intriguing, using an attempt on Bob Marley’s life in 1976 as a starting point. It will be the first NBCC nominated book I read after I finish with the PKD shortlist.
Lily King’s Euphoria has been on my radar since winning the Kirkus Prize for Fiction in 2014. The book is based on Margaret Mead’s life, someone I know barely anything about. I’m looking forward though to learning more.
So that’s late January and early February sorted in terms of my reading. I’m sure the upcoming announcement of The Kitschies will fill out the rest of February.