Annal: 1994 National Book Award for Fiction

Results of the National Book Award in the year 1994.

Book:A Frolic of His Own

A Frolic of His Own

William Gaddis

With the publication of the Recognitions in 1955, William Gaddis was hailed as the American heir to James Joyce. His two subsequent novels, J R (winner of the National Book Award) and Carpenter’s Gothic, have secured his position among America’s foremost contemporary writers.

Now A Frolic of His Own, his long-anticipated fourth novel, adds more luster to his reputation, as he takes on life in our litigious times. “Justice?—You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law.” So begins this mercilessly funny, devastatingly accurate tale of lives caught up in the toils of the law.

Oscar Crease, middle-aged college instructor, savant, and playwright, is suing a Hollywood producer for pirating his play “Once at Antietam”, based on his grandfather’s experiences in the Civil War, and turning it into a gory blockbuster called…[more]

Book:The Bird Artist

The Bird Artist

Howard Norman

The Bird Artist, Howard Norman’s spellbinding new novel, is set in Newfoundland in 1911. Fabian Vas’s story, told with disarming simplicity and grace, takes place against a spare and profoundly beautiful landscape where the most powerful of emotions stand out starkly against naked rock, sea and sky. At age twenty, Fabian is working at the boat yard, taking a correspondence course in bird painting, and sleeping with Margaret Handle, a woman of great beauty, intelligence and waywardness—though his parents are determined to marry him to a distant relation he has never met. Then his father leaves on a long hunting expedition, his mother takes up with the lighthouse keeper, Botho August, and Fabian’s world loses most of its bearings. The Bird Artist reveals the fire at the heart of human interactions with a rare and enthralling directness.

Book:The Collected Stories (Grace Paley)

The Collected Stories

Grace Paley

At long last, here are all of Grace Paley’s classic stories collected in one volume. From her first book, The Little Disturbances of Man, published in 1959, to Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974) and Later the Same Day (1985), Grace Paley’s quirky, boisterous characters and rich use of language have won her readers’ hearts and secured her place as one of America’s most accomplished writers. Grace Paley’s stories are united by her signature interweaving of personal and political truths, by her extraordinary capacity for empathy, and by her pointed, funny depiction a the small and large events that make up city life. As her work progresses, we encounter many of the same characters and revisit the same sites, bearing witness to a community as it develops and matures, becoming part ourselves of a dense and vital world that is singular yet achingly familiar.

Book:Moses Supposes

Moses Supposes

Ellen Currie

Few writers have been as enthusiastically hailed as was Ellen Currie when her short fiction first appeared in The New Yorker and other publications in the late 1950s. Twenty-five years later, her first novel, Available Light, appeared—and, as critics and readers were quick to assert, was well worth the wait.

With Moses Supposes, Currie renews her reputation as a peerless chronicler of the free-floating malice and unintended comedy of domestic life. In the title story, a young newlywed’s unexpected pregnancy makes her marriage suddenly, unbearably real. In “The Solution to Canned Peas,” a couple try but fail to transcend the habits of mistrust. In “Slim Young Woman in No Distress,” a mother braves her precocious son’s wrath at her divorce. In “Exit Interview,” an advertising executive contemplates the eclipse of his future by family tragedies he is helpless to prevent or to articulate.

Rife with the ill luck, high drama, and poetry of the Irish, these dozen magical tales illuminate the mysteries at the heart of childhood, marriage, parenthood, and aging. They are sure to lift Currie to new heights of literary acclaim.

Book:White Man's Grave

White Man's Grave

Richard Dooling

Michael Killigan, a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa, is missing. The search for him is launched separately by his father, Randall, a master-of-the-universe and warlord of the Indianapolis bankruptcy courts, and Michael’s best friend, Boone Westfall. Once in Freetown, Boone falls in with Sam Lewis, an unscrupulous Volunteer who’s fed up with Sierra Leone, a country which in 1992 earned the distinction of being the world’s worst place to live, according to the United Nations. Lewis leads Boone into the bush and turns him over to Aruna Sisay, “the white Mende man,” a fallen anthropologist who’s sworn off the rigors of fieldwork and succumbed to the charms of ruling hell. Back in America, Randall receives an ominous bundle of black rags from Sierra Leone and starts to experience terrifying sleep disorders. A raving hypochondriac, he bankrolls a search for his son, while seeking a medical explanation for his nocturnal hallucinations. Meanwhile. Liberian rebels are crossing the border in the south of Sierra…[more]

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