Annal: 1993 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 1993.

Book:A Lesson Before Dying

A Lesson Before Dying

Ernest J. Gaines

Set in a small Cajun community in the late 1940s, A Lesson Before Dying is an “enormously moving” (Los Angeles Times) novel of one man condemned to die for a crime he did not commit and a young man who visits him in his cell. In the end, the two men forge a bond as they both come to understand the simple heroism of resisting—and defying—the expected.

Book:Feather Crowns

Feather Crowns: A Novel

Bobbie Ann Mason

Set in the apocalyptic atmosphere of 1900—a time when many Americans were looking for signs foretelling the end of the world—Feather Crowns is the story of a young woman who unintentionally creates a national sensation. A farm wife living near the small town of Hopewell, Kentucky, Christianna Wheeler gives birth to the first recorded set of quintuplets in North America.

Christie is suddenly thrown into a swirling storm of public attention. Thousands of strangers descend on her home, all wanting too see and touch the “miracle babies.” One visitor crawls right in through the window! The fate of the babies and the bizarre events that follow their births propel Christie and her husband far from home, on a journey that exposes them to the turbulent pageant of life at the beginning of the modern era. …[more]

Book:The Jade Cabinet

The Jade Cabinet

Rikki Ducornet

Made speechless by her eccentric father, the beautiful Etheria is traded for a piece of precious jade. Memory, her sister, tells her story, that of a childhood enlivened by Lewis Carroll and an orangutan named Dr. Johnson and envenomed by the pernicious courtship of Radulph Tubbs, Queen Victoria’s own Dragon of Industry. The novel travels from Oxford to Egypt where one million ibis mummies wait to be transformed into fertilizer, where Baconfield the architect will cause a pyramid to collapse, and where a scorned and bloated hunger artist who speaks in tongues will plot a bloody revenge. The fourth element in a tetralogy of novels—Earth (The Stain), Fire (Entering Fire), Water (The Fountains of Neptune) and Air—The Jade Cabinet is both a riveting novel and a reflection on the nature of memory and desire, language and power. Following the novel is an afterword, “Waking to Eden,” in which Ducornet reflects on the sources for her writing and on the quartet of novels completed by The Jade Cabinet.

Book:The Shipping News: A Novel

The Shipping News: A Novel

Annie Proulx

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, The Shipping News is a celebration of Annie Proulx’s genius for storytelling and her vigorous contribution to the art of the novel.

Quoyle, a third-rate newspaper hack, with a “head shaped like a crenshaw, no neck, reddish hair…features as bunched as kissed fingertips,” is wrenched violently out of his workaday life when his two-timing wife meets her just deserts. An aunt convinces Quoyle and his two emotionally disturbed daughters to return with her to the starkly beautiful coastal landscape of their ancestral home in Newfoundland. Here, on desolate Quoyle’s Point, in a house empty except for a few mementos of the family’s unsavory past, the battered members of three generations try to cobble up new lives.

Newfoundland is a country of coast and cove where the mercury rarely rises above 70 degrees, the local culinary delicacy…[more]

Book:Vindication

Vindication: A Novel

Frances Sherwood

In this electrifying novel, Frances Sherwood re-creates the life and times of Mary Wollstonecraft, the trailblazing English feminist. Abetted by an unruly intelligence and an unquenchable romanticism, Sherwood’s Mary survives a brutal childhood to carve a courageous but always uncertain path for herself in a world of men. Rich historical settings from the chaos of Revolutionary Paris to the Bedlam insane asylum are the backdrop for the complex tale of her intellectual and emotional passions, lovers and friends, motherhood and marriage.

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