Library Corner | 2018 National Book Award finalists: Fiction |

Library Corner | 2018 National Book Award finalists: Fiction

Tess Riley
Grand County Library District

Have you ever had that moment when you’re desperate for a book but have no idea what to select? You stare across the stack of books in front of you, but there are too many choices. For some new options, you may want to consider the finalists for the 2018 National Book Awards.

The National Book Awards are the literary equivalent of the World Series. There are the brilliant and acknowledged veterans like Lauren Groff with her new novel Florida. For Groff, (“Fates and Furies”) this is a first collection of short stories. Often debut novelists make a sudden appearance on the list with a first novel. I am excited to start reading “There, There” by Tommy Orange, a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

The National Book Foundation and Awards honors American authors in four areas: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and young people’s literature. The intent is to celebrate books in a way that creates a thriving cultural landscape. The Foundation seeks to protect, stimulate, and promote discourse in American society; and recognize that books and literature are for everyone, no matter where geographically, economically, racially, or otherwise (hmm… sounds like our Grand County libraries!).

Publishers recommend selections published Dec. 1 to Nov. 30 to the Foundation. Then a five-member panel consisting of writers, literary critics, librarians, and booksellers whittle the list down to a “longlist” of 10 titles in each category. Next, they narrow to five finalists in each category, and then (drumroll) a winner in each category is announced mid-November.

Upon what criteria are the books judged? Depends upon the panel. As long as the criteria doesn’t impact the eligibility guidelines, the judges have freedom to determine. Perhaps you’ve read past winners including “Sing Unburied Sing” (Fiction 2017), “Between the World And Me” (Nonfiction 2015), “Faithful and Virtuous Night” (Poetry 2014), and “March: Book Three” (YA 2016). Winners include a variety of writing styles including graphic novels, comics, short stories, and more.

So, on to this year’s finalists. Check out the titles or place a hold at any of our Grand County branch libraries. Many of the titles are available in different formats: downloadable eBook and audiobooks, large print as well as regular books. Keep your eyes posted — winners will be announced Nov. 14.

Polly Gallagher is the new director of public services for the Grand County Library District.

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