Annal: 1982 National Book Award for Fiction

Results of the National Book Award in the year 1982.

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:So Long, See You Tomorrow

So Long, See You Tomorrow

William Maxwell

On an Illinois farm in the 1920s, a man is murdered, and in the same moment the tenous friendship between two lonely boys comes to an end. In telling their interconnected stories, American Book Award winner William delivers a masterfully restrained and magically evocative meditation on the past. “A small, perfect novel.”—Washington Post Book World.

Book:Dad: A Novel

Dad: A Novel

William Wharton

John Tremont, a middle-aged man with a family, is summoned to his mother’s bedside after she has suffered a heart attack. When he arrives, he finds her shaken but surviving: it is his father, left alone, who is unable to cope, who begins to fail, to slip away from life. Joined by his nineteen-year-old son, John suddenly becomes enmeshed in the frightening, consuming, endless minutiae of caring for a beloved, dying parent. He also finds himself inescapably confronting his own middle age, jammed between his son’s feckless impatience to get on with his life and his father’s heartbreaking willingness to let go.

A story of the love that binds generations, Dad celebrates the universe of possibilities within every individual life.

Book:Ellis Island and Other Stories

Ellis Island and Other Stories

Mark Helprin

Marshall Pearl is orphaned at birth aboard an illegal immigrant ship off the coast of Palestine in 1947 and brought as an infant to America. Determined to see the world in its beauty, ferocity, and ultimate justice, he does so, in scenes of gorgeous color and great excitement, as a child in the Hudson Valley, fighting the Rastafarians in Jamaica, at Harvard, in a slaughterhouse on the Great Plains, in the Mexican desert, on the sea, and in the Alps. Finally, he is drawn to Israel to confront the logic of his birth in a crucible of war, magic, suffering, and grace. At the opening of the book, he is one of the dying wounded being transported to Haifa during the 1973 War. We follow him as he dreams, reconstructing his life, until, by the strength of what he has learned, suffered, and hoped, Marshall Pearl rises.

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 Hotel New Hampshire

The Hotel New Hampshire

John Irving

“The first of my father’s illusions was that bears could survive the life lived by human beings, and the second was that human beings could survive a life led in hotels.”

So says John Berry, son of a hapless dreamer, brother to a cadre of eccentric siblings, and chronicler of the lives lived, the loves experienced, the deaths met, and the myriad strange and wonderful times encountered by the family Berry. Hoteliers, pet-bear owners, friends of Freud (the animal trainer and vaudevillian, that is), and playthings of mad fate, they “dream on” in a funny, sad, outrageous, and moving novel by the remarkable author of A Widow for One Year and The Cider House Rules.

Book:Loon Lake

Loon Lake

E.L. Doctorow

It is America in the great depression, and he is a child of that time, that place. He runs away from home in Paterson, New Jersey, to New York City and learns the bare bones of life before he hits the road with a traveling carnival. Then one icy night in the Adirondacks, the young man sees a private train roar by. In its lit windows, he spies an industrial tycoon, a poet, a gangster, and a heartbreakingly beautiful girl. He follows them, as one follows a dream, to an isolated private estate on Loon Lake.

Thus the stage is set for a spellbinding tale of mystery and menace, greed and ambition, harsh lust and tender love, that lays bare the darkest depths of the human heart and the nightmarish underside of the American dream. E. L. Doctorow has written a novel aglow with poetry and passion, lit by the burning fire of humanity and history, terror and truth.

Book:Morgan's Passing

Morgan's Passing

Anne Tyler

Morgan Gower works at Cullen’s hardware store in north Baltimore. He has seven daughters and a warmhearted wife, but as he journeys into the gray area of middle age, he finds his household growing tedious. Then Morgan meets two lovely young newlyweds under some rather extreme circumstances—and all three discover that no one’s heart is safe….

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