Best Books season begins officially with the announcement of the National Book Awards longlists.
In fiction, one of the ten titles is the number one LibraryReads pick for October, News of the World, Paulette Jiles (HC/William Morrow). It is also an Indie Next selection for October. Below is the LibraryReads annotation.
“Readers fortunate enough to meet Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an old ex-soldier who makes a living reading the news to townspeople in 1870s Texas, and Joanna, the Indian captive he is charged with returning to her relatives, will not soon forget them. Everything, from the vividly realized Texas frontier setting to the characters is beautifully crafted, right up to the moving conclusion. Both the Captain and Joanna have very distinctive voices. Wonderful storytelling.” — Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY
Missing from the list is Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton (PRH/Viking; OverDrive Sample; 1/13/16), a Booker longlist title, that did not make the cut to the shortlist (the two titles by U.S. writers on that shortlist were published here in 2015, so are not eligible for the NBA).
The nonfiction list is dominated by titles on racism in America, including a book which has received media attention, Heather Ann Thompson’s Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy (Pantheon Books/Penguin Random House; OverDrive Sample; 8/23/16).
Middle grade novels were winners in the Young Peoples Lit category in 2015 and 2013. They make a good showing on the 2016 longlist, taking four of the ten slots. Included is Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray; HC Audio; OverDrive Sample; 2/2/16). A bestseller, it may be the only one of all the nominees to have been optioned for a film. CORRECTION: At least one other adaptation is in the works, but as a limited TV series. Deadline reports that Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad, on the fiction longlist, is “about to hit the TV marketplace.”
In poetry, mainstays Rita Dove and Donald Hall received nominations. So did a debut poet, Solmaz Sharif for Look: Poems, Solmaz Sharif (Macmillan/Graywolf; OverDrive Sample; 7/5/16). Sharif and Hall share a notable distinction, both are among the rare poets who have books selected as Indie Next picks. Sharif made the July list and Hall’s collection was the #1 December 2015 pick:
“This is a gift of honesty, intimacy, and the pure genius that is Donald Hall, as he hand-picks what he considers to be the best of his poetry from more than 70 years of published works. From this former U.S. Poet Laureate comes one essential volume of his works, where ‘Ox-Cart Man’ sits alongside ‘Kicking the Leaves’ and ‘Without.’ As he is no longer writing poetry, this ‘concise gathering of my life’s work’ is the perfect introduction to Hall’s literary contributions, as well as closure for his many ardent followers.”–Katharine Nevins, of MainStreet BookEnds of Warner, Warner
The finalists will be announced on Oct. 13, the winners on Nov. 16.