Annal: 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction

Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2010.

Book:A Visit From the Goon Squad

A Visit From the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan

Jennifer Egan’s spellbinding interlocking narratives circle the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Although Bennie and Sasha never discover each other’s pasts, the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs, over many years, in locales as varied as New York, San Francisco, Naples, and Africa.

We first meet Sasha in her mid-thirties, on her therapist’s couch in New York City, confronting her long-standing compulsion to steal. Later, we learn the genesis of her turmoil when we see her as the child of a violent marriage, then as a runaway living in Naples, then as a college student trying to avert the suicidal impulses of her best friend. We plunge into the hidden yearnings and disappointments of her uncle, an art historian stuck in a dead marriage, who travels to Naples to extract Sasha from…[more]

Book:Day for Night

Day for Night: A Novel

Frederick Reiken

“If you look hard enough into the history of anything, you will discover things that seem to be connected but are not.” So claims a character in Frederick Reiken’s wonderful, surprising novel, which seems in fact to be determined to prove just the opposite. How else to explain the threads that link a middle-aged woman on vacation in Florida with a rock and roll singer visiting her comatose brother in Utah, where he’s been transported after a motorcycle injury in Israel, where he works with a man whose long-lost mother, in a retirement community in New Jersey, recognizes him in a televised report about an Israeli-Palestinian skirmish? And that’s not the half of it.

In Day for Night, critically acclaimed writer Frederick Reiken spins an unlikely and yet utterly convincing story about people lost and found. They are all refugees from their own lives or history’s cruelties, and yet they wind up linked to each other in compelling and unpredictable ways that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Book:Freedom (Jonathan Franzen)

Freedom: A Novel

Jonathan Franzen

Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul—the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter’s dreams. Together with Walter—environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man—she was doing her small part to build a better world.

But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz—outré rocker and Walter’s college best friend and rival—still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become “a very different kind of neighbor,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street’s…[more]

Book:Nashville Chrome

Nashville Chrome: A Novel

Rick Bass

Late in 1959, the Brown siblings—Maxine, Bonnie, and Jim Ed—were enjoying unprecedented international success, rivaled only by their longtime friend Elvis Presley. They had a bona fide megahit on their hands, which topped both the country and pop charts and gave rise to the polished sound of the multibillion dollar country music industry we know today. Mesmerized by the Browns’ haunting harmonies, the Beatles even tried to learn their secret. Their unique harmony, however, was only achievable through shared blood, and the trio’s perfect pitch was honed by a childhood spent listening for the elusive pulse and tone of an impeccably tempered blade at their parent’s Arkansas sawmill.

But the Browns’ celebrity couldn’t survive the world changing around them, and the bonds of family began to fray along with the fame. Heartbreakingly, the novel jumps between the Browns’ promising past and the present, which finds Maxine—once…[more]

Book:Something Is Out There: Stories

Something Is Out There: Stories

Richard Bausch

From the prizewinning novelist and world-renowned short-story writer, the author of 2008’s universally acclaimed novel Peace (“A brilliant one-act drama depicting the futility and moral complexity of combat”—The New York Times), eleven indelible new tales that showcase the electrifying artistry of a master.

A husband confronts the power of youth and the inexorable truths of old age. A son sits by his mother’s bedside determined to give her what she needs in her final days, even though doing so means breaking his own heart. A brief adulterous tryst illuminates the fragility of our most intimate relations. A young man returns in the face of crisis to the parents he once rejected. A divorced young woman dealing with slowly increasing despair develops an obsesion about a note that fell from the pocket of a man who came to eat in the café where she works. A wife whose husband has been shot must weather a terrible snowstorm with her two…[more]

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