Annal: 2006 National Book Award for Fiction

Results of the National Book Award in the year 2006.

Book:The Echo Maker

The Echo Maker: A Novel

Richard Powers

On a winter night on a remote Nebraska road, 27-year-old Mark Schluter flips his truck in a near-fatal accident. His older sister Karin, his only near kin, returns reluctantly to their hometown to nurse Mark back from a traumatic head injury. But when he emerges from a protracted coma, Mark believes that this woman—who looks, acts, and sounds just like his sister—is really an identical impostor. Shattered by her brother’s refusal to recognize her, Karin contacts the cognitive neurologist Gerald Weber, famous for his case histories describing the infinitely bizarre worlds of brain disorder. Weber recognizes Mark as a rare case of Capgras Syndrome, a doubling delusion, and eagerly investigates. What he discovers in Mark slowly undermines even his own sense of being. Meanwhile, Mark, armed only with a note left by an anonymous witness, attempts to learn what happened the night of his inexplicable accident. The truth of that evening will change the lives of all three beyond recognition. …[more]

Book:A Disorder Peculiar to the Country

A Disorder Peculiar to the Country: A Novel

Ken Kalfus

In a rollicking black comedy about terrorism, war, and conjugal strife, the author whom Salon calls “a writer of chameleonic fluency” revisits some peculiar episodes in current American history.

Joyce and Marshall Harriman are struggling to divorce each other while sharing a cramped, hateful Brooklyn apartment with their two small children. One late-summer morning, Joyce departs for Newark Airport to catch a flight to San Francisco, and Marshall goes to his office in the World Trade Center. She misses her flight, and he’s late for work, but on that grim day, in a devastated city, among millions seized by fear and grief, each thinks the other’s dead and each is secretly, shamefully, gloriously happy.

Opening with a swift kick to our national piety, A Disorder Peculiar to the Country follows Joyce and Marshall…[more]

Book:Eat the Document

Eat the Document: A Novel

Dana Spiotta

In the heyday of the 1970s underground, Bobby DeSoto and Mary Whittaker—passionate, idealistic, and in love—design a series of radical protests against the Vietnam War. When one action goes wrong, the course of their lives is forever changed. The two must erase their past, forge new identities, and never see each other again.

Now it is the 1990s. Mary lives in the suburbs with her fifteen-year-old son, who spends hours immersed in the music of his mother’s generation. She has no idea where Bobby is, whether he is alive or dead.

Shifting between the protests in the 1970s and the consequences of those choices in the 1990s, Dana Spiotta deftly explores the connection between the two eras—their language, technology, music, and activism. Character-driven and brilliant, Eat the Document is an important and revelatory novel about the culture of rebellion, with particular resonance now.

Book:Only Revolutions

Only Revolutions: A Novel

Mark Z. Danielewski

Sam:

They were with us before Romeo & Juliet. And long after too. Because they’re forever around. Or so both claim, carolling gleefully: We’re allways sixteen. Sam & Hailey, powered by an ever-rotating fleet of cars, from Model T to Lincoln Continental, career from the Civil War to the Cold War, barrelling down through the Appalachians, up the Mississippi River, across the Badlands, finally cutting a nation in half as they try to outrace History itself.

Hailey:

They were with us before Tristan & Isolde. And long after too. Because they’re forever around. Or so both claim, gleefully carolling: We’re allways sixteen. Hailey & Sam, powered by an ever-rotating fleet of cars, from Shelby Mustang…[more]
Book:The Zero

The Zero: A Novel

Jess Walter

The Zero is a groundbreaking novel, a darkly comic snapshot of our times that is already being compared to the works of Franz Kafka and Joseph Heller.

From its opening pages—when hero cop Brian Remy wakes up to find he’s shot himself in the head—novelist Jess Walter takes us on a harrowing tour of a city and a country shuddering through the aftershocks of a devastating terrorist attack. As the smoke slowly clears, Remy finds that his memory is skipping, lurching between moments of lucidity and days when he doesn’t seem to be living his own life at all. The landscape around him is at once fractured and oddly familiar: a world dominated by a Machiavellian mayor known as “The Boss,” and peopled by gawking celebrities, anguished policemen peddling First Responder cereal, and pink real estate divas hyping the spoils of tragedy. Remy himself has a new girlfriend he doesn’t know, a son who pretends…[more]

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