The Long and the Short of It

If I didn't know better (and perhaps I don't), I would swear that my two favorite book awards are trying to one-up each other.
First came the news in January that the National Book Award was "re-examining its rules" and would for the first time ever introduce four long lists for each of its award categories - Poetry, Young People's Literature, Fiction, and Nonfiction. This would allow room for more nominees, and would also mirror what another British award program just happens to do already.
That was followed yesterday by the announcement that the Man Booker Prize had also done some soul-searching. They have long had a long list (sorry), but have now decided to open the contest up to all "writing in English," not just English writing. That may seem like hair-splitting, but the Man Booker previously was open only to UK citizens. Now this "global expansion" opens the award to writers from "Chicago to Sheffield to Shanghai."
Here is my color commentary on this one-on-one game: NBA knocked the ball out of the MBP court with its new long lists. Then MBP said, "oh no you didn't," stole the ball back, and took it right to NBA's own home turf. Boom.
If you think I'm making a Jets vs Sharks thing out of nothing, let me also point out that there was a little matter of dates. The National Book Award had said it would announce its long list right on top of the Man Booker's announce date for its short list (see the NBA long lists below). And, coincidentally, the short list for the NBA will be only one day after the Man Booker names its winner in October. Hmmmm.
But after this major change to the Man Booker, I think the ball is in your court, NBA. Play nicely, everyone.

National Book Award Long Lists

Pacific, by Tom Drury
The End of the Point, by Elizabeth Graver
The Flame Throwers, by Rachel Kushner
The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri (shortlisted for the Man Booker)
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra
The Good Lord Bird, by James McBride
Someone, by Alice McDermott
Bleeding Edge, by Thomas Pynchon
Tenth of December, by George Saunders
Fools, by Joan Silber

Nonfiction (evidently the rules say the title must include a colon)
Finding Florida: The True Story of the Sunshine State, T.D. Allman
Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami, by Gretel Ehrlich
The Wolf and the Watchman: A Father, a Son, and the CIA, by Scott C. Johnson
Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, by Jill Lepore
Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields, by Wendy Lower
Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States 1861-1865, by James Oakes
The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, by George Packer
The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia 1772-1832, by Alan Taylor
Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington, by Terry Teachout
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief, by Lawrence Wright (see my review here)

Metaphysical Dog, by Frank Bidart
Bury My Clothes, by Roger Bonair-Agard
Stay, Illusion, by Lucie Brock-Broido
So Recently Rent a World, New and Selected Poems 1968-2012, by Andrei Codrescu
Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, by Brenda Hillman
The Big Smoke, by Adrian Matejka
American Amnesiac, by Diane Raptosh
Black Aperture, by Matt Rasmussen
Transfer of Qualities, by Martha Ronk
Incarnadine: Poems, by Mary Szybist

Young People's Literature
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, by Kathi Appelt
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, by Kate DiCamillo
A Tangle of Knots, by Lisa Graff
The Summer Prince, by Alaya Dawn Johnson
The Thing About Luck, by Cynthia Kadohata
Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
Far Far Away, by Tom McNeal
Picture Me Gone, by Meg Rosoff
The Real Boy, by Anne Ursu
Boxers & Saints, by Gene Luen Yang


  1. The Booker has always been one of my favorite awards and at first I was open to the idea of them opening up the competition to all those writing in English. But after hearing a lot of commentary last night and this morning, I'm not so sure.

    What I am sure of is that I'm glad that National Book Award has posted their long list. It just means more exposure for those writers and I think that is a good thing.