Wednesday, October 10, 2012
It's a great day for Iraq War fiction.
I was delighted to see The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain were both named as finalists for this year's National Book Awards. I've read both novels and believe they are important additions to the national dialogue on our most recent conflicts in the Middle East. Powers writes a sobering, haunting account of one soldier's experience on the battlefield and the struggle to fit in to life in the United States after his return. Fountain's novel matches The Yellow Birds in intensity, but it's on the other end of the spectrum: wickedly delicious satire. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk centers around a squad of soldiers who are brought back, mid-war, to be celebrated as heroes at the Super Bowl halftime. Nothing against the other nominees--Junot Diaz, Dave Eggers and Louise Erdrich (whose books I have yet to read)--but I'm secretly pulling for the Iraq War candidates to win.
Here's the complete list of the National Book Award finalists:
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956 by Anne Applebaum
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4 by Robert A. Caro
The Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez
House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East by Anthony Shadid
Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations by David Ferry
Heavenly Bodies by Cynthia Huntington
Fast Animal by Tim Seibles
Night of the Republic by Alan Shapiro
Meme by Susan Wheeler
Young People's Literature
Goblin Secrets by William Alexander
Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos
Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick
Endangered by Eliot Schrefer
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
Congratulations to all the finalists!
You can learn more about the finalists, other honrees and the National Book Awards in general at its website.