The nominees for the National Book Award appear to be a fine lot. Granted, I haven’t read any of the selected books, but I’m an editor — no time to read. Plus, at least two of the fiction nominees have been released within the last month (in fact, one of them was released yesterday), so give me some time, will you?
With William Vollmann and E.L. Doctorow on the list, it’s unlikely that this year’s fiction announcement will cause quite the uproar that last year’s did, when five women with less than blockbuster sales were nominated, much to the chagrin of those on the Relevance side of the prefabricated moving target that is the Literature-Commerce-Relevance war. Also to the chagrin of sexists everywhere, I suppose. There was additional upset caused by the fact that all five women lived in Manhattan (New York, not Kansas — now, that would be a controversy: ““Kansas State”:http://www.k-state.edu/ has hijacked the NBA process!”)
A quick glance at this year’s honorees does show that at least two of them – Christopher Sorrentino and Rene Steinke – live in Brooklyn. Let the uproar begin. When, oh when, I ask you, will we start to recognize the indelible work coming out of Queens? There’s always 2006.
I end with a simple wish that this year’s NBA fallout doesn’t include an essay about the process as soul-crushingly solipsistic and dull as Rick Moody’s in The Believer last year. (This link only takes you to a brief excerpt of the piece, and you can thank me later.)