It’s fitting, somehow, to be reading the press release for this year’s National Book Awards long list for fiction on the morning when I finish reading the book that won the award two years ago. Louise Erdrich’s The Round House is bleak and delicious and sorrow-filled. I would have followed Joe and Cappy anywhere. This book will stay awhile, may even, as Erdrich writes, “persist into our small forever.”
I am unfamiliar with most of the writers on this year’s long list, other than Marilynne Robinson and Elizabeth McCracken, both of whom I adore. I always enjoy this time of year, when books are celebrated: the National Book Awards will be announced in November; at some point this fall (date still TBD) the Nobel Prize for Literature will be given. The Man Booker will be awarded October 14, the day before the National Book Awards short list is announced. The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction was announced in June.