The Worst National Book Award List since the Last National Book Award List

The nominees for the National Book Award in fiction were announced earlier today, and they are truly a bad lot:

• Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her
• Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King
• Louise Erdrich, The Round House
• Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
• Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds

The list reads more like the Acknowledgments at the back of a novel, where creative writers nod and smile at other creative writers, than like a selection of the best American fiction published this year. Only Díaz’s collection of stories belongs on it. This Is How You Lose Her should win easily. I reviewed Erdrich’s The Round House in the October issue of COMMENTARY. (Verdict: Don’t bother.) It may come as a surprise, when you study the roll of past winners, to discover that Erdrich has never won the National Book Award. Little else could explain her nomination for the Award this time around.

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The Worst National Book Award List since the Last National Book Award List

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