Deciding the 2014 NBCC Winners
When the members of the National Book Critics Circle board of directors shut ourselves up in a room to choose the winners of our annual awards—better bring snacks because we’re not leaving until we’re finished!—we’re always careful to consider only the books in front of us. We don’t say things like, “This book has already won other awards so it doesn’t need ours,” or “We’ve given too many prizes to books from big presses so it’s time for a ...
T.C. Boyle photographed by Jamieson Fry
Breeze through T.C. Boyle’s epigraphs at your own peril—they’re often the germ of his stories.
“Epigraph and title are really the framework to start nailing the walls onto,” says Boyle, by phone, from home in Santa Barbara, California. It’s one day ahead of the national tour for his 25th book, The Harder They Come, which bears a kickoff quotation from D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature:
“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and ...
Kirker Butler photographed by Lee Cherry.
As a high schooler, Kirker Butler once choreographed the opening number of a beauty pageant.
“I grew up in a small town in the South, and my mother and father were on the county fair board. My mother was put in charge of the pageant. We still don’t know why,” says Butler, who set the steps to Neil Diamond’s “America.”
When it comes to the perfect person to write a satirical sendup of kiddie pageants ...
James Hannaham photographed by Ian Douglas.
A young black man named Eddie, driving through the darkness of rural Louisiana, terrycloth wrapped where his hands once lived: with this violent, hectic image, James Hannaham opens Delicious Foods, his second novel. It’s a hell of a hook, yes—questions raised, hearts racing—but from there, the prologue settles down. Upon reaching a small town, Eddie starts a successful business as the “handyman without hands,” and although the terrors of his own past never leave him, he finds some bit ...
Christian Kiefer photographed by Jessica Eger
Christian Kiefer is smart. He has a PhD in American literature and teaches at American River College in Sacramento. His mentors are T.C. Boyle, Richard Ford, Pam Houston and Denis Johnson, who he thanks in the acknowledgements for his second novel, The Animals.
The Animals is so good, it’s hard to be smart about it. It’s got the lyrical language of top-tier literary fiction with the compulsive readability of a blood-pumping crime novel. It makes you think and feel ...
Previewing the books first published overseas that will soon be arriving in America.
Andrew O'Hagan, copyright broaddaylight
This is the launch of a feature we will publish on the 15th of each month to give you advance insight into books first published overseas. You’ll be hearing about these books when they arrive in America; now you know how the readers and critics who saw them first reacted to them. —Ed.
U.K.: Jan. 29, 2015 | Faber & Faber
U.S.: Mar. 24, 2015 | FSG
Once a gifted photographer, Anne is fighting ...
Allan Gurganus photographed by Roger Haile
The Bible offers a warning or two about worshipping false idols; Allan Gurganus’s recent novella, Decoy, gives readers a shelf-full of Biblical exegesis regarding the human complications of modern-day idolatry. If the object of worship is one’s hand-picked best friend (who might not know that yet), stand by for comedy and Old Testament calamities.
As Gurganus suggests, “We’re often most confused by the very person we love and desire most. We are snowblind.”
Decoy (which was previously published in ...
Virginia Woolf photographed by George Beresford.
“As the streets…are very narrow, it is better not to walk down them arm-in-arm. If you persist, lawyers’ clerks will have to make flying leaps into the mud; young lady typists will have to fidget behind you. In the streets of London where beauty goes unregarded, eccentricity must pay the penalty, and it is better not to be very tall, to wear a long blue cloak, or to beat the air with your left hand.”
Allowing for the fact ...