Annal: 1977 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 1977.

Book:Song of Solomon

Song of Solomon: A Novel

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, a novel of large beauty and power, creates a magical world out of four generations of black life in America, a world we enter on the day of the birth of Macon Dead, Jr. (known as Milkman), son of the richest black family in a mid-western town; the day on which the lonely insurance man, Robert Smith, poised in blue silk wings, attempts to fly from a steeple of the hospital, a black Icarus looking homeward…

We see Milkman growing up in his father’s money-haunted, death-haunted house with his silent sisters and strangely passive mother, beginning to move outward—through his profound love and combat with his friend Guitar…through Guitar’s mad and loving commitment to the secret avengers called the Seven Days…through Milkman’s exotic, imprisoning affair with his love-blind cousin, Hagar…and through his unconscious apprenticeship to his mystical Aunt Pilate, who saved his life before he was born. …[more]

Book:A Book of Common Prayer

A Book of Common Prayer

Joan Didion

Writing with the telegraphic swiftness and microscopic sensitivity that have made her one of our most distinguished journalists, Joan Didion creates a shimmering novel of innocence and evil.

A Book of Common Prayer is the story of two American women in the derelict Central American nation of Boca Grande. Grace Strasser-Mendana controls much of the country’s wealth and knows virtually all of its secrets; Charlotte Douglas knows far too little. “Immaculate of history, innocent of politics,” she has come to Boca Grande vaguely and vainly hoping to be reunited with her fugitive daughter. As imagined by Didion, her fate is at once utterly particular and fearfully emblematic of an age of conscienceless authority and unfathomable violence.

Book:Falconer

Falconer

John Cheever

In a nightmarish prison a convict named Farragut struggles to remain a man. Out of Farragut’s suffering and astonishing salvation, Cheever crafted his most powerful work of fiction.

Book:The Professor of Desire

The Professor of Desire

Philip Roth

As a student in college, David Kepesh styles himself “a rake among scholars, a scholar among rakes.” Little does he realize how prophetic this motto will be—or how damning. For as Philip Roth follows Kepesh from the domesticity of childhood into the vast wilderness of erotic possibility, from a ménage à trois in London to the throes of loneliness in New York, he creates a supremely intelligent, affecting, and often hilarious novel about the dilemma of pleasure: where we seek it; why we flee it; and how we struggle to make a truce between dignity and desire.

Book:Union Dues

Union Dues: A Novel

John Sayles

The setting is Boston, Fall 1969. Radical groups plot revolution, runaway kids prowl the streets, cops are at their wits end, and work is hard to get, even for hookers. Hobie McNutt, a seventeen year old runaway from West Virginia drifts into a commune of young revolutionaries. It’s a warm, dry place, and the girls are very available. But Hobie becomes involved in an increasingly vicious struggle for power in the group, and in the mounting violence of their political actions.

His father Hunter, who has been involved in a brave and dangerous campaign to unseat a corrupt union president in the coal miners union, leaves West Virginia to hunt for his runaway son. To make ends meet, he takes day-labor jobs in order to survive while searching for him.

Living parallel lives, their destinies ultimately movingly collide in this sprawling classic of radicalism across the generations, in the vein of Pete Hamill, Jimmy Breslin, and Richard Price.

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