06 February, 2017

2016 National Book Critics Circle Award

In March and April, we'll have the winners of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. The NBCCA finalists and some winners are already announced, and we have here the signed first editions of all the fiction finalists in addition to Yaa Gyasi's "Homegoing", the 2016 winner of John Leonard Prize for outstanding first book. The version we have here is the Powell Indiespensable edition.

This year's NBCCA finalists include some of the finest writers, although the exclusion of Colson Whitehead's "The Underground Railroad", a hot favorite and already the 2016 National Book Award winner (and eventual Pulitzer winner), is a little of a surprise. Nonetheless, we still have Michael Chabon's "Moonglow", another Powell Indiespensable edition published by Harper. Chabon's road to winning this year's Pulitzer will likely be difficult since he already won it in 2001 with "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay". The Pulitzer fiction prize only had repeated winners in Booth Tarkington, William Faulkner and, most recently, John Updike for two of his Rabbit tetralogy books. It is hard to see Chabon being the fourth, but he is definitely a NBCCA front-runner.

Then there is the heavy-weight American native writer and one of the key members of the Native American Renaissance movement, Louise Erdrich, with her latest work, "LaRosa", which won the 2017 NBCCA. This edition is the official publisher-issued signed first edition of unknown printing size with a special tipped-in signature page. It is interesting to note that Harper issues a lot of such editions, including Erdrich's earlier work like "The Round House" (2012's NBA winner) and "The Plague of Doves" (2010 Pulitzer finalist). Erdrich already won the NBCCA in 1984 with "Love Medicine", and that may lower her chance of winning it again this year. NBCCA only had two repeated winners - John Updike and E. L. Doctorow (Erdrich won and joins Updike and Doctorow in this rarefied group). On the other hand, I think it may finally be Erdrich's year for the Pulitzer.

Then we  have the very talented Zadie Smith's "Swing Time", published by Penguin Press. This book is from the Harvard First Edition Club. Consider NBCCA's willingness to award its honor on foreign writers, Smith looks like a dark horse this year. Another dark horse this year is Adam Haslett's "Imagine Me Gone" from Little, Brown. Haslett made a splash in 2002 with his debut publication, a short story collection "You Are Not A Stranger Here" that was finalist to that year's NBA and Pulitzer, losing to Julia  Glass' "Three June" and Jeffrey Eugenides' "Middlesex" respectively. "Imagine Me Gone" was on the 2016 NBA longlist, and I feel that this may finally be a breakout year for Haslett to win the NBCCA and perhaps the Pulitzer too (It was a 2017 Pulitzer finalist). Finally, we have veteran Ann Patchett's "Commonwealth", also by Harper and also an publisher-issued signed first edition. While the book is lauded as Patchett's stronger work, I fear it will assume the same fate as her 2001 "Bel Canto", a NBCCA finalist and nothing more.

Find out the NBCCA winner here on 16 March.









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