Annal: 1978 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 1978.

Book:The Stories of John Cheever

The Stories of John Cheever

John Cheever

Here are sixty-one stories that chronicle the lives of what has been called “the greatest generation.” From the early wonder and disillusionment of city life in “The Enormous Radio” to the surprising discoveries and common mysteries of suburbia in “The Housebreaker of Shady Hill” and “The Swimmer,” Cheever tells us everything we need to know about “the pain and sweetness of life.”

Book:The Coup

The Coup: A Novel

John Updike

John Updike is one of America’s most versatile men of letters. His characterization of Rabbit Angstrom in Rabbit Run, Rabbit Redux and Rabbit Is Rich has made the author richer than Rabbit.

But in The Coup, Updike dissects a modern African state called Kush. Narrated tongue-in-cheek by Kush’s exiled president, Colonel Felix Ellellou, Updike proves he is an equal opportunity employer when it comes to slicing up bunkum, whether black or white, first world or third.

Book:Final Payments

Final Payments

Mary Gordon

After eleven years of devotion to her father, Isabel Moore suddenly finds herself with what most of us dream of: a chance to create a totally new existence. Witty, brave, intelligent, and passionate, she sets out to conquer the world. She is supported by the loving encouragement of two old school friends, rapidly becomes involved with two men—and then discovers that before she can grasp the present she must make her final payments to the past.

Book:The World According to Garp

The World According to Garp

John Irving

This is the life and times of T.S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields—a feminist leader ahead of her times. This is the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes—even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with “lunacy and sorrow”; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. In more than thirty languages, in more than forty countries—with more than ten million copies in print—this novel provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: “In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases”.

Book:Wrinkles

Wrinkles

Charles Simmons

More than forty terse chapters, each a “biography” in miniature, coalesce into this affecting novel, an honest, poignant, often humorous account of all aspects of a man’s life. Each of these chapters begins with the “then” of childhood and youth, proceeds to the “now” of the middle years, and ends with a projection of the inevitabilities of old age. Each, too, develops a theme, a person, a place, a possession, an attribute, a desire, a fear, important to the protagonist and, indeed, to everyone. Among these themes are parents, brother, wife, children, friends, lovers; houses, schools, jobs; clothes, movies, games, money; driving, clowning, drinking, cheating; religion and sexuality; love, lust, sleep, illness, death.

Unlike these abstractions, Wrinkles is concrete, richly detailed, precise in its evocation of the past, the vivid present, an imagined future. We see what the child saw when he looked into the mirror, what the boy saw later, what the man sees now, and what someday the old man will see. How the child loved; how the man loves; how the old man will love.

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