Wednesday, October 12, 2005


NBA finalists

At Rowan Oak, William Faulkner's home in Oxford, Mississippi, John Grisham announced the 2005 National Book Award finalists. In fiction, E.L. Doctorow is likely to be leader of the pack: his Civil War novel, The March, put him back on the bestseller lists and restored his luster after the mixed response accorded to his story collection, Sweet Land Stories, last year. Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking won a nomination in nonfiction, along with Alan Burdick's Out of Eden, Leo Damrosch's Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jim Dwyer's and Kevin Flynn's 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers, and Adam Hochschild's Bury the Chains. (The Didion is tremendous and deserving, but not having read the other contenders, I can't exactly handicap this one.) In poetry, two hardy survivors will go toe-to-toe: the 78-year-old John Ashbery (Where Shall I Wander) and the 78-year-old W.S. Merwin (Migration), with Frank Bidart, Brendan Galvin, and Verdan Rutsala bringing up the rear. For a less scattershot report, try this piece by Hillel Italie, as well as the official NBA site.

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