Annal: 2000 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 2000.

Book:Being Dead

Being Dead

Jim Crace

A haunting new novel about love, death, and the afterlife, from the author of Quarantine.

Baritone Bay, mid-afternoon. A couple, naked, married almost thirty years, are lying murdered in the dunes.

Their bodies had expired, but anyone could tell—just look at them—that Joseph and Celice were still devoted. For while his hand was touching her, curved round her shin, the couple seemed to have achieved that peace the world denies, a period of grace, defying even murder. Anyone who found them there, so wickedly disfigured, would nevertheless be bound to see that something of their love had survived the death of cells. The corpses were surrendered to the weather and the earth, but they were still a man and wife, quietly resting; flesh on flesh; dead, but not departed yet.

Book:The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Michael Chabon

It is New York City in 1939. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat to date: smuggling himself out of Nazi-occupied Prague. He is looking to make big money, fast, so that he can bring his family to freedom. His cousin, Brooklyn’s own Sammy Clay, is looking for a collaborator to create the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book. Out of their fantasies, fears, and dreams, Joe and Sammy weave the legend of that unforgettable champion the Escapist. And inspired by the beautiful and elusive Rosa Saks, a woman who will be linked to both men by powerful ties of desire, love, and shame, they create the otherworldly mistress of the night, Luna Moth. As the shadow of Hitler falls across Europe and the world, the Golden Age of comic books has begun.

Book:Assorted Fire Events

Assorted Fire Events: Stories

David Means

In just a few years David Means has emerged as one of the most distinct voices of his generation, producing superbly generous stories that-like the work of his predecessors Raymond Carver and Alice Munro-push the form to a new level. Bringing together Means’s unforgettable characters and plots in diamond-cutter prose, Assorted Fire Events is a major literary event.

From a married man consummating a hazy summer affair and getting lost in a reverie that explains the “far-away look in his eyes” (“Coitus”) to a recently widowed mother who must decide what to do with a video of her honeymoon love-making (“The Widow Predicament”), David Means probes the depths of the human heart. The stories collected here range the American landscape: suburban sprawl leads to disastrous consequences in Pushcart Prize-winning “What They Did;” a Depression-era hobo holds on to a freight train that roars through the desert night as well as his scattered past (“The Grip”); sneaking into a wedding…[more]

Book:A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You

A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You: Stories

Amy Bloom

A great short story has the emotional depth and intensity of a poem and the wholeness and breadth of a novel. Amy Bloom writes great short stories. Her first collection, Come to Me, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and here she deepens and extends her mastery of the form.

Real people inhabit these pages, the people we know and are, the people we long to be and are afraid to be: a mother and her brave, smart little girl, each coming to terms with the looming knowledge that the little girl will become a man; a wildly unreliable narrator bent on convincing us that her stories are not harmless; a woman with breast cancer, a frightened husband, and a best friend, all discovering that their lifelong triangle is not what they imagined; a man and his stepmother engaged in a complicated dance of memory, anger, and forgiveness. Amy Bloom takes us straight to the center of these lives with rare generosity and…[more]

Book:White Teeth

White Teeth: A Novel

Zadie Smith

On New Year’s morning, 1975, Archie Jones sits in his car on a London road and waits for the exhaust fumes to fill his Cavalier Musketeer station wagon. Archie—working-class, ordinary, a failed marriage under his belt—is calling it quits, the deciding factor being the flip of a 20-pence coin. When the owner of a nearby halal butcher shop (annoyed that Archie’s car is blocking his delivery area) comes out and bangs on the window, he gives Archie another chance at life and sets in motion this richly imagined, uproariously funny novel.

Epic and intimate, hilarious and poignant, White Teeth is the story of two North London families—one headed by Archie, the other by Archie’s best friend, a Muslim Bengali named Samad Iqbal. Pals since they served together in World War II, Archie and Samad are a decidedly unlikely pair. Plodding Archie is typical in every way until he marries Clara, a beautiful, toothless…[more]

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