When the National Book Awards (NBA) ceremony takes place on November 18, there will be an extra, one-time award given for The Best of the National Book Awards Fiction. It will come from the 77 fiction books that won the National Book Award from 1950 to 2008. (Some years, there were 2 winners.) This “Best of” award celebrates the NBA 60 year anniversary.
Much of the selecting has already taken place. There’s now a shortlist of six (below) that were determined in a vote by writers connected to the National Book Foundation. Then the public voted on this six, selecting the winner to be revealed November 18. Details about the process are on the Foundation website.
- The Stories of John Cheever (National Book Award, 1981)
- Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1953)
- Collected Stories of William Faulkner (1951)
- The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor (1972)
- Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (1974)
- The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty (1983)
All the NBA fiction winners since 1950 are listed in a colorful display of dust jackets on the Foundation’s site. I love to see how many books I’ve read on lists such as this. Here are some I haven’t read that I’ll be adding to My Reading Table. I mention some finalists that didn’t win, of note.
The Waters of Kronos by Conrad Richter (1961 winner)
Richter won over John Knowles for A Separate Peace and Harper Lee for To Kill a Mockingbird.
Morte D’Urban by JF Powers (1963 winner)
Powers won over Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire, Katherine Anne Porter’s Ship of Fools and Dawn Powell’s The Golden Spur.
The Eighth Day by Thorton Wilder (1968 winner)
Wilder won over William Styron’s The Confessions of Nat Turner, Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, Norman Mailer’s Why Are We in Vietnam? and Joyce Carol Oates’ A Garden of Earthly Delights.
Augustus by John Williams (1973 winner)
Williams won over Eudora Welty’s The Optimist’s Daughter, Barry Hannah’s Geronimo Rex and Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Enemies, A Love Story.
Dog Soldiers by Irving Stone (1975 winner)
Stone won over Toni Morrison’s Sula and Philip Roth’s My Life as a Man. He shared the award with Thomas Williams, below.
The Hair of Harold Roux by Thomas Williams
The Green Ripper by John D. MacDonald (1980 winner)
I don’t recognize any of the finalists that lost this year: Lucille Kallen for Introducing C.B. Greenfield, William X. Kienzle for The Rosary Murders, Arthur Maling for The Rheingold Route, Lawrence Meyer for False Front.