The NBCC nominate books in a number of categories, I’ll be focussing on the fiction category only.  The full list can be found here.

The nominees for best novel are as follows:

  • Paul Beatty, “The Sellout” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • Lauren Groff, “Fates and Furies” (Riverhead)
  • Valeria Luiselli, “The Story of My Teeth,” translated by Christina MacSweeney (Coffee House Press)
  • Anthony Marra, “The Tsar of Love and Techno” (Hogarth)
  • Ottessa Moshfegh, “Eileen” (Penguin Press)

imageLast years list of nominees averaged a 7.6 out of 10.  One of the books nominated was Marlon James The Brief History of Seven Killings a book that didn’t win the NBCC in 2015 but deservedly took home the Man Booker Prize last year.  Have you read it yet?  And if not, why not!?

Anyway, this list includes Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies which I really didn’t like at all.  It’s a novel that like A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara has divided the critics.  In the case of the Groff there was obviously enough consensus and praise to see it nominated.  Well, you can’t account for people’s terrible tastes (especially critics).

I hold out more hope for the other four nominees.  The Moshfegh and the Luiselli provide an interesting case because last year I read their nominated works for the Believer Award and was less than overwhelmed.  (The books were McGlue and Faces In The Crowd  I liked the Luiselli more than the Moshfegh).  Even so it was clear from my exposure of their work that they were interesting writers doing interesting things with narrative and voice.  The fact that those particular works left me cold isn’t enough to avoid the books nominated above.  Having said that I do have some trepidation.

The Beatty was one of the five books listed by the New York Times as their best for 2015.  The Marra is a short story collection, and while I’m not familiar with this particular book, I am aware (though I haven’t read) his first novel A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (a National Book Award nominee in 2013).

I’m cautiously optimistic about the four nominees I haven’t read.  Except to see my weekly thoughts about the novels in February.