If you haven’t read the National Book Award winner in fiction, you have lots of company. Jaimy Gordon’s Lord of Misrule was just published this week, in what may be the smallest original print run in the award’s history (just 2,000 copies, with a reprint of 6,000 more ordered after the finalists were announced). However, this is the largest print run ever for McPherson, the indie that published the book. The first consumer review (unless you count the one in The Daily Racing Form) appeared yesterday, by Jane Smiley in the Washington Post. The winner is literally a dark horse; Lord of Misrule is the name of the rundown, black race horse featured in the book.
While the national press did not give author Jaimy Gordon attention in advance of the award, her local paper, The Kalamazoo Gazette, profiled her on Sunday.
The back story for the nonfiction winner is quite different. Patti Smith has already received fame in another line of work. Her memoir Just Kids hit the NYT Best Seller List in hardcover and is currently on the extended list in trade paperback and is on year-end best books lists. Nevertheless, Smith seemed genuinely moved, giving a teary acceptance speech.
In Young People’s Literature, Kathryn Erskine’s Mockingbird, won over Paolo Bacigalupi’s well-received YA futuristic thriller, Ship Breaker, Walter Dean Myer’s Lockdown, Laura McNeal’s Dark Water and Rita Williams-Garcia’s One Crazy Summer (the only one of the group to appear on School Library Journal‘s Best Books list).
In a reversal of the fiction category, the poetry winner is published by a large trade house. Terrance Hayes’s Lighthead (Penguin Books) won out over books published by indie presses and one university press.