The National Book Award is celebrating 60 years. Until September 21, their blog will devote one page each day to a past fiction winner, including the book's original cover, comments from critics and writers, the list of other finalists, other important literary events that year, and links to relevant reading about the selected book. The blog began on July 7 with 1950's The Man With the Golden Arm by Nelson Algren.
The project is an interesting and informative history of American writing, but it's also fun to see the NBA staff try to sort itself out. The blog is honoring 77 books, which take into account the expanding and shrinking of the the scope of the prize over time. In 1983 for example, there were three fiction awards: Hardcover Fiction, Paperback Fiction and First Novel. These were won by Alice Walker for The Color Purple, Eudora Welty for The Collected Stories, and Gloria Naylor for The Women of Brewster Place, all of which are included on the blog. To help you sort out what was what and to see the awards that are not being mentioned, check out this list of winners at the website of the American Booksellers organization.
After the blog is finished with its review, we will all get to vote on one book for the The Best of the National Book Awards. Although the award is pretty much a rip off of the Best of the Booker that happened last year, I'm hopeful that a short story collection might win. There are six of them. Vote for your favorite, and you might win two tickets to the National Book Awards dinner, and get to hob-nob with today's literati. I promise to take you if I win, if you'll promise to take me.