Annal: 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

Results of the National Book Critics Circle Award in the year 2008.

Book:2666

2666: A Novel

Roberto Bolaño

The posthumous masterwork from “one of the greatest and most influential modern writers” (James Wood, The New York Times Book Review) Composed in the last years of Roberto Bolaño’s life, 2666 was greeted across Europe and Latin America as his highest achievement, surpassing even his previous work in its strangeness, beauty, and scope. Its throng of unforgettable characters includes academics and convicts, an American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage student and her widowed, mentally unstable father. Their lives intersect in the urban sprawl of Santa Teresa—a fictional Juárez—on the U.S.-Mexico border, where hundreds of young factory workers, in the novel as in life, have disappeared.

Book:The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart

The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart

M. Glenn Taylor

Meet Trenchmouth Taggart, a man born and orphaned in 1903, a man nick-named for his lifelong oral affliction. In the West Virginia coal mine wars, a boy hardens quick when he picks up a gun. Exile is his trophy, and he spends his adult years on the run. He changes his name and plays a mean mouth harp, and he keeps on running from his past, all the way to Chicago. But trouble will sniff even an old man down, and an outlaw will eventually run home. Here, Trenchmouth Taggart’s story, like the best ballads, etches its mark deep upon the memory.

Book:Home

Home: A Novel

Marilynne Robinson

Hundreds of thousands were enthralled by the luminous voice of John Ames in Gilead. Home is an entirely independent, deeply affecting novel that takes place concurrently in the same locale, this time in the household of Reverend Robert Boughton, Ames’s closest friend.

Glory Boughton, aged thirty-eight, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Soon her brother, Jack—the prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty years—comes home too, looking for refuge and trying to make peace with a past littered with tormenting trouble and pain.

Jack is one of the great characters in recent literature. A bad boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold a job, he is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Boughton’s most beloved…[more]

Book:The Lazarus Project

The Lazarus Project: A Novel

Aleksandar Hemon

On March 2, 1908, nineteen-year-old Lazarus Averbuch, a recent Jewish immigrant from Eastern Europe to Chicago, knocked on the front door of the house of George Shippy, the chief of Chicago police. Averbuch offered Shippy what he said was an important letter. Instead of taking the letter, Shippy shot Averbuch twice, killing him. When Shippy released a statement casting Averbuch as a would-be anarchist assassin and agent of foreign political operatives, he all but set off a city and a country already simmering with ethnic and political tensions.

Now, in the twenty-first century, a young writer in Chicago, Brik, also from Eastern Europe, becomes obsessed with Lazarus’s story. In order to understand Averbuch, Brik and his friend Rora retrace Averbuch’s path across Eastern Europe, through a history of pogroms and poverty, and through a present-day landscape of cheap mafiosi and cheaper prostitutes. The stories of Averbuch and Brik become inextricably entwined, creating a truly original, provocative, and entertaining novel that will confirm Hemon once and for all as one of the most dynamic and essential literary voices of our time.

Book:Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge

Elizabeth Strout

In a voice more powerful and compassionate than ever before, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Strout binds together thirteen rich, luminous narratives into a book with the heft of a novel, through the presence of one larger-than-life, unforgettable character: Olive Kitteridge.

At the edge of the continent, Crosby, Maine, may seem like nowhere, but seen through this brilliant writers eyes, its in essence the whole world, and the lives that are lived there are filled with all of the grand human dramadesire, despair, jealousy, hope, and love.

At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesnt always recognize the changes in…[more]

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