Wednesday, November 14, 2012

National Book Award Night Predictions!

Tonight, four lucky authors will have their careers change forever when they take home National Book Awards.  Here in Book Land we're always looking for ways to bet, make predictions, and go off half-cocked on things we know nothing about, so awards season is perfect.  Here are our predictions for winners in all four categories, hours before the award ceremony.  Note: if Liz is 100% correct, Gianna will buy her dinner.  If Gianna is 100% correct, it's a sign of the zombie apocalypse and you should hide.

Gianna's opening statement: I think after you read my predictions, you'll understand why people call me the Nate Silver of book awards.

Liz's opening statement: Who are these people saying you're Nate Silver?  We aren't counting the voices in your head.

Round One: Fiction
The nominees are:

Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her (Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Group USA, Inc.)
Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King (McSweeney's Books)
Louise ErdrichThe Round House (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)
Ben FountainBilly Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)
Kevin PowersThe Yellow Birds (Little, Brown and Company)

Gianna's PickWhile I loved This is How You Lose Her, I can't help but be reminded of the the movie, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, which my girlfriend watches every chance she gets. I am convinced that the judges, particularly Lorrie Moore, will have difficulty giving an award to anything reminiscent of Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey.

So, that narrows my choices down to Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, A Hologram for the King, The Round House, and The Yellow Birds. All great I am sure, but since I have only read two of these, I can narrow it down even further to Hologram for the King and The Round House. No, those aren't the two I read; I never end up reading the winners, so obviously I should take the two I've already read out. So, if I follow that logic, my final choice is Louise Erdrich's The Round House because not only have I not read this novel, I've never read any of her books. If you listen carefully you can hear Liz scream….

Liz's Pick: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!  She's never read Louise Erdrich?  You know how Kelly Ripa spent a year auditioning co-hosts to replace Regis?  I'll start that process next week.  Anyway, I own all five finalists this year...and haven't yet read any of them.  Therefore, I'm going with the book I bought first, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.  I was going to pick Louise Erdrich as well, since--like Obama--she has the woman vote and the minority vote, but I can't agree with Gianna.

Round Two: Nonfiction
The nominees are:
Anne ApplebaumIron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956 (Doubleday)
Katherine BooBehind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (Random House)
Robert A. CaroThe Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4 (Knopf)
Domingo MartinezThe Boy Kings of Texas (Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press)
Anthony ShadidHouse of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

GiannaNow, for this category I am going to really do something different. I am going to pick the book I loved best. Hands down my choice is Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. If this book does not win, I am going to petition that Texas secede from the union!

Liz: Rule #1: All things being equal, go with the book with Stalin on the cover.  Also, Anne Applebaum writes great histories about topics which interest me, like her previous Pulitzer winner, Gulag.  And as I keep telling people at presentations this fall, nothing says "Merry Christmas!" like a good history of totalitarian oppression.  Iron Curtain all the way.

Round Three: Poetry
The nominees are: 
David FerryBewilderment: New Poems and Translations (University of Chicago Press)
Cynthia HuntingtonHeavenly Bodies (Southern Illinois University Press)
Tim SeiblesFast Animal (Etruscan Press)
Alan ShapiroNight of the Republic (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Susan WheelerMeme (University of Iowa Press)

GiannaI have had great luck in the past picking the winner for poetry with my method of choosing the sexiest title. This year David Ferry wins with Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations. HOT! Talk about a great movie with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey!

Liz: Who's NOT winning: David Ferry.  Wasn't this the name of Joe Pesci's character in the movie JFK? Tim Seibles.  I'm not sure how to say his name.  Cynthia Huntington, because Heavenly Bodies sounds a bit porny, as does Alan Shapiro's Night of the Republic.  I'm going with Meme by Susan Wheeler, because I appreciate brevity in poetry (so brief that I don't have to read it at all), and her title is one word long.  Congratulations Susan!

Round Four: Young People's Literature
The nominees:
William Alexander, Goblin Secrets (Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)
Carrie ArcosOut of Reach (Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)
Patricia McCormickNever Fall Down (Balzer+Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)
Eliot SchreferEndangered (Scholastic)
Steve SheinkinBomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
(Flash Point, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press)

GiannaThe one with a bonobo on the cover.  [Endangered]

Liz: Never Fall Down.  I like the cover best.

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