The finalists for the 2008 National Book Award for Fiction have been announced. They are:
Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project (Riverhead)
Rachel Kushner, Telex from Cuba (Scribner)
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country (Modern Library)
Marilynne Robinson, Home (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Salvatore Scibona, The End (Graywolf Press)
I’ve just started reading Home. It’s a companion novel to Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer-winning novel, Gilead, which is one of the most beautiful, affecting novels I’ve ever read. Jack Boughton, a central figure in both novels, is a powerfully heartbreaking character. Robinson writes with such measured grace that the mastery of her prose does not sink in until long after you’ve finished reading it. I’ve found myself, on numerous occasions, thinking about a passage in Gilead, pulling the book from my bookshelf to re-read it, and marveling at its understated greatness.
The winner will be announced at the 59th National Book Awards Ceremony and Dinner on November 19th in New York City. To read full descriptions of each finalist and the finalists for the Non-Fiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature categories, check out the National Book Foundation website.