Annal: 1981 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 1981.

Book:Rabbit Is Rich

Rabbit Is Rich

John Updike

The hero of John Updike’s Rabbit, Run (1960), ten years after the hectic events described in Rabbit Redux (1971), has come to enjoy considerable prosperity as Chief Sales Representative of Springer Motors, a Toyota agency in Brewer, Pennsylvania. The time is 1979: Skylab is falling, gas lines are lengthening, the President collapses while running in a marathon, and double-digit inflation coincides with a deflation of national confidence. Nevertheless, Harry Angstrom feels in good shape, ready to enjoy life at last—until his son, Nelson, returns from the West, and the image of an old love pays a visit to his lot. New characters and old populate these scenes from Rabbit’s middle age, as he continues to pursue, in his erratic fashion, the rainbow of happiness.

Book:A Flag for Sunrise

A Flag for Sunrise

Robert Stone

Diverse characters are drawn into the maelstrom of Tecan, a small Central American country on the brink of revolution.

At a mission on the coast a priest is lapsing into alcoholic mysticism, while a young American nun is veering towards commitment to the cause. In a bar in Brooklyn, Frank Holliwell is lunching with an old CIA friend who is begging for a favour. On the Tex—Mex border, Pablo, a Coast Guard deserter, loco on speed, is about to take a job carrying mysterious contraband to Tecan. As these lives converge and this small, crowded world erupts, the novel builds to an electrifying climax.

Book:The Men's Club

The Men's Club

Leonard Michaels

The timely and prescient novel that anticipated by a decade the men’s movement of today.

“Brilliant and resonant…A story that every man could tell if he dared to, but only a writer as gifted as Leonard Michaels could shape.” —Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

“Short, funny, and discomforting…. Love stories based on lost connections, incompatible longings, and lacerating fights…. Anger rather than tenderness seems to be the chief means of communication between the sexes…. The climax is fitting, horrific, and wonderfully droll.” —New York Times Book Review

Book:Riddley Walker

Riddley Walker

Russell Hoban

A brilliant, unique, and completely realized work of fiction, “Riddley Walker”—first published in 1980—is set in a remote future in a post-nuclear holocaust England (Inland), where humanity has regressed to an iron-age, semi-literate state, represented by a language created especially by Hoban for the book.

Book:Sixty Stories

Sixty Stories

Donald Barthelme

With these audacious and murderously witty stories, Donald Barthelme threw the preoccupations of our time into the literary equivalent of a Cuisinart and served up a gorgeous salad of American culture, high and low. Here are the urban upheavals reimagined as frontier myth; travelogues through countries that might have been created by Kafka; cryptic dialogues that bore down to the bedrock of our longings, dreams, and angsts. Like all of Barthelme’s work, the sixty stories collected in this volume are triumphs of language and perception, at once unsettling and irresistible.

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