Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning was a busy period in the world of English language literary awards. On Tuesday evening in London, the 2008 Man Booker Prize for best fiction published by a British Commonwealth author went to the Indian writer Aravind Adiga for his novel, The White Tiger. (Back in July I wrote a post about the Man Booker finalists.) Adiga, 33, is the fourth debut novelist to win the award. His novel -- which the Booker jury said "shocked and entertained in equal measure" -- is an unsentimental portrait of life in India. It was published in paperback in this country last month, and is available at Accent on Books. More about the book and the award can be found at the Man Booker's website.
Then, back in this country on Wednesday morning, the National Book Foundation trotted out Scott Turow to make a video announcement of the finalists for this year's National Book Awards. There are five finalists in each of four categories -- Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Young People's Literature -- and the complete list can be found here. Marilynne Robinson is among the Fiction nominees for Home, the follow-up to her previous novel Gilead, which won the Pulitzer Prize. Peter Matthiesen is another Fiction nominee for his book Shadow Country; earlier in his career he won a nonfiction NBA for The Snow Leopard. Jane Mayer's The Dark Side -- about the Bush administration's "War on Terror" -- may be the best known of the Nonfiction nominees. The nominated poets seem a particularly distinguished group led by Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Howard. And Laurie Halse Anderson, one of the most acclaimed writers of young adult fiction to appear in recent years, is the biggest name in the Young People's Literature category.
There is a Western North Carolina connection to this year's National Book Awards: Gail Godwin, who grew up in Asheville, presides over the judges charged with picking this year's winner in Fiction.