National Book Award Winners 2012
Winners of the 2012 National Book Awards have been named by National Book Foundation.
The Round House by Louise Erdrich (Harper)
One of the most revered novelists of our time - a brilliant chronicler
of Native-American life - Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her
bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House,
transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It is
an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks
justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends
and forever transforms his family.
Riveting and suspenseful, arguably the most accessible novel to date from the creator of Love Medicine, The Beet Queen, and The Bingo Palace, Erdrich’s The Round House is a page-turning masterpiece of literary fiction - at once a powerful coming-of-age story, a mystery, and a tender, moving novel of family, history, and culture.
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz (Riverhead)
A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers (McSweeney's)
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (Ecco)
The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers (Little, Brown)
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo (Random House)
In this brilliantly written, fast-paced book, based on three years of
uncompromising reporting, a bewildering age of global change and
inequality is made human.
Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter—Annawadi’s “most-everything girl”—will soon become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call “the full enjoy.”
But then Abdul the garbage sorter is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal. As the tenderest individual hopes intersect with the greatest global truths, the true contours of a competitive age are revealed. And so, too, are the imaginations and courage of the people of Annawadi.
With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects human beings to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds, and into the lives of people impossible to forget.
Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956 by Anne Applebaum (Doubleday)
The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro (Knopf)
The Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez (Lyons Press)
House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East by Anthony Shadid (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations by David Ferry (U. of Chicago Press)
To read David Ferry’s Bewilderment is to be reminded that poetry of the highest order can be made by the subtlest of means. The passionate nature and originality of Ferry’s prosodic daring works astonishing transformations that take your breath away. In poem after poem, his diction modulates beautifully between plainspoken high eloquence and colloquial vigor, making his distinctive speech one of the most interesting and ravishing achievements of the past half century. Ferry has fully realized both the potential for vocal expressiveness in his phrasing and the way his phrasing plays against—and with—his genius for metrical variation. His vocal phrasing thus becomes an amazingly flexible instrument of psychological and spiritual inquiry. Most poets write inside a very narrow range of experience and feeling, whether in free or metered verse. But Ferry’s use of meter tends to enhance the colloquial nature of his writing, while giving him access to an immense variety of feeling. Sometimes that feeling is so powerful it’s like witnessing a volcanologist taking measurements in the midst of an eruption.Ferry’s translations, meanwhile, are amazingly acclimated English poems. Once his voice takes hold of them they are as bred in the bone as all his other work. And the translations in this book are vitally related to the original poems around them.
Heavenly Bodies by Cynthia Huntington (Southern Illinois U. Press)
Fast Animal by Tim Seibles (Etruscan Press)
Night of the Republic by Alan Shapiro (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Meme by Susan Wheeler (U. of Iowa Press)
Young People's Literature Winner:
Goblin Secrets by William Alexander (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
A boy joins a theatrical troupe of goblins to find his missing brother.
In the town of Zombay, there is a witch named Graba who has clockwork chicken legs and moves her house around—much like the fairy tale figure of Baba Yaga. Graba takes in stray children, and Rownie is the youngest boy in her household. Rownie’s only real relative is his older brother Rowan, who is an actor. But acting is outlawed in Zombay, and Rowan has disappeared.
Desperate to find him, Rownie joins up with a troupe of goblins who skirt the law to put on plays. But their plays are not only for entertainment, and the masks they use are for more than make-believe. The goblins also want to find Rowan—because Rowan might be the only person who can save the town from being flooded by a mighty river.
This accessible, atmospheric fantasy takes a gentle look at love, loss, and family while delivering a fast-paced adventure that is sure to satisfy.
Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos (Simon Pulse)
Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick (Balzer + Bray)
Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic)
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (Flash Point/Roaring Brook)
Elmore Leonard is the 25th recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, which was created in 1988 to recognize a lifetime of literary achievement. Previous recipients include John Ashbery, Toni Morrison, John Updike, Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, Maxine Hong Kingston, Gore Vidal, and Tom Wolfe.