Annal: 1984 National Book Award for Fiction

Results of the National Book Award in the year 1984.

Book:Victory Over Japan

Victory Over Japan: A Book of Stories

Ellen Gilchrist

This collection of 14 short stories won the American Book Award for fiction when it was published and confirmed the author’s reputation as one of the preeminent literary talents of her generation.

Ellen Gilchrist creates an unforgettable group of Southern women, enchanted and enchanting, who cavort through life, in and out of bars, marriages, and divorces, through the world of art and culture, drug busts, lovers’ arms, and even earthquakes, in an attempt to find, if not happiness, at least some satisfaction. Throughout these stories, one hears echoes of Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty, but Ms. Gilchrist has her own unique literary voice—and it is outrageously funny, moving, tragic, and always appealing.

Book:The Anatomy Lesson

The Anatomy Lesson

Philip Roth

At forty, the writer Nathan Zuckerman comes down with a mysterious affliction—pure pain, beginning in his neck and shoulders, invading his torso, and taking possession of his spirit. Zuckerman, whose work was his life, is unable to write a line. Now his work is trekking from one doctor to another, but none can find a cause for the pain and nobody can assuage it. Zuckerman himself wonders if the pain can have been caused by his own books. And while he is wondering, his dependence on painkillers grows into an addiction to vodka, marijuana, and Percodan.

The Anatomy Lesson is a great comedy of illness written in what the English critic Hermione Lee has described as “a manner at once…brash and thoughtful…lyrical and wry, which projects through comic expostulations and confessions…a knowing, humane authority.” The third volume of the trilogy and epilogue Zuckerman Bound, The Anatomy Lesson provides some of the funniest scenes in all of Roth’s fiction as well as some of the fiercest.

Book:Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs

Alison Lurie

Alison Lurie’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece is both a splendid comedy and poignant love story about two American academics in London. Virginia Miner, an unmarried tenured professor, is an Anglophile on leave to research a book. Fred Turner, a teacher at the same university, is recently separated, flat broke and miserable in this city where the rain never seems to end. The separate paths of these two lonely and naive innocents abroad lead them to strikingly similar destinations of newfound passion…and unexpected love.

By turns hilarious and intensely moving, Foreign Affairs is a dazzling accomplishment—timely, captivating and unforgettable.

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