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.

0
Shares
Google+ Print

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

Must-Reads from Magazine

Iran May Be Wearing Out Its Welcome Even in Syria and Iraq

The bloom is off the rose.

It’s no secret that Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates loathe Iran. What’s far more surprising is that Iran seems to be wearing out its welcome even in the Arab countries with which it is most closely allied. That, at least, is the message of both a recent study of Syrian textbooks and a recent wave of violent protests in Iraq.

23
Shares
Google+ Print

Montenegro, Russia, and the American Mission in Europe

The essence of deterrence.

Newt Gingrich called Donald Trump’s servile performance alongside Vladimir Putin in Helsinki this week the “most serious mistake” of his presidency. Gingrich only had to wait a few hours for the president to top himself.

44
Shares
Google+ Print

PODCAST: Oy, Such a Bad Week

Podcast: The anti-Atlanticist president.

Trump in Helsinki brown-nosing Putin. Trump on with Tucker Carlson threatening the viability of NATO. The possibility of an American ambassador being somehow presented to Russia for questioning. These all happened after our last podcast. We try to make sense of it without crying. Give a listen.

6
Shares
Google+ Print

The Invasion of Ninnies and Nut-Eaters

Corporate silly season.

At some point in recent decades—I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment—corporate America turned itself into an organ of liberal nannyism and virtue signaling. No longer a commercial bulwark against liberal statism, many firms now happily enforce the orthodoxies of cultural liberalism in the workplace. Which means that, for most of us, the “American experience” feels like one seamless garment of dreary, conformist liberalism wrapped around the public square and the private economy.

25
Shares
Google+ Print

Obama Practiced the Very Identity Politics He Condemns

The president's blind spot.

You could sense a disturbance in the force on Tuesday, as center-left identitarian social-justice activists awoke to the news that former President Barack Obama had set fire to the exclusionary identity politics at the heart of what it means to be “woke.”

61
Shares
Google+ Print