Friday, November 18, 2005

More interesting than it sounds

The American National Book Awards are not something that I have previously paid much attention to. I dislike awards generally, the only exceptions being where the voting is done by ordinary readers. However, the Awards claim to be 'the nation's preeminent literary prizes, and The National Book Awards Ceremony and Dinner [is] the most important event on our literary calendar.' Especially the dinner, by the sound of it.

Despite these reservations, however, I have to say that the Book Standard's account of this year's National Book Awards ceremony was reasonably entertaining, and introduced me to the surprise winner of the fiction category, William Vollmann. Can't say I'd heard of him before, but then he is a fearful highbrow sort of chap, and I'm not.

Should you be intrigued enough to want to know more, the Kirkus review of Vollmann's prize-winning book, Europe Central, is available online.

The Wiltshire public library system, by the way, has never heard of Vollmann either. Except when spelt with one N. And then it tells you that it doesn't stock him. And if you go to Amazon.co.uk, you discover that Europe Central is published in the UK by Penguin, but there is absolutely no information provided it at all. Not a two-line summary, not a word about the author, not so much as an 'Excellent', Slough Advertiser. Good to know how on the ball our major publishers are, and what detailed care they devote to marketing a big prize-winner.

2 comments:

Noah Cicero said...

Here's a question. The national book award is an american prize, but the last three books that won didn't even take place in America. And to add to that, they didn't take place in the last forty years.

Ivan Prokopchuk said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the great Jorge Luis Borges garner a National Book Award some
forty yearrs ago following his success in the New Yorker with his
stories?