Honor roll: PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

Each of these books has been nominated for a PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant: A Novel

Anne Tyler

Pearl Tull is nearing the end of her life but not her memory. Ever since 1944 when her husband left her, she has raised her three very different children on her own. Now grown, they have gathered together—with anger, with hope, and with a beautiful, harsh, and dazzling story to tell….

Book:The Buddha in the Attic

The Buddha in the Attic: A Novel

Julie Otsuka

Julie Otsuka’s long awaited follow-up to When the Emperor Was Divine is a tour de force of economy and precision, a novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought over from Japan to San Francisco as ‘picture brides’ nearly a century ago.

In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces their extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war.

In language that has the force and the fury of poetry, Julie Otsuka has written a singularly spellbinding novel about the American dream. 

Book:Stones for Ibarra

Stones for Ibarra

Harriet Doerr

Richard and Sara Everton mortgage, sell and borrow, leave friends and country to settle in the Mexican village of Ibarra. They intend to spend the rest of their lives here, in a place neither of them has seen, to speak a language neither of them know. Their dream is to reopen Richard’s grandfather’s abandoned copper mine.

In a few short months work is advancing in the mine and their home is ready—then Richard learns he has six years to live.

Richard’s determination to make the mine and village prosper matches Sara’s effort to deny the diagnosis. While Richard measures time, she rejects its passage.

This novel, Harriet Doerr’s first, was written when she was in her seventies.

Book:The Second Coming

The Second Coming: A Novel

Walker Percy

Will Barrett, a lonely widower, suffers from a depression so strange and severe that he decides he doesn’t want to continue living. But then he meets Allison, a mental hospital escapee making a new life for herself, living alone in a greenhouse. What follows is by turns touching and zany, tragic and comic, as Will goes in search of proof of God and winds up finding much more.

Book:Independence Day

Independence Day

Richard Ford

Frank Bascombe is no longer a sportswriter, yet he’s still living in Haddam, New Jersey, where he now sells real estate. He’s still divorced, though his ex-wife, to his dismay, has remarried and moved along with their children to Connecticut. But Frank is happy enough in his work and pursuing various civic and entrepreneurial sidelines. He has high hopes for this 4th of July weekend: a search for a house for deeply hapless clients relocating to Vermont; a rendezvous on the Jersey shore with his girlfriend; then up to Connecticut to pick up his larcenous and emotionally troubled teenage son and visit as many sports halls of fame as they can fit into two days. Frank’s Independence Day, however, turns out not as he’d planned, and this decent, appealingly bewildered, profoundly observant man is wrenched, gradually and inevitably, out of his private refuge. Independence Day captures the mystery of life — in all its conflicted glory — with grand humour, intense compassion and transfixing power.

Book:Ironweed: A Novel

Ironweed: A Novel

William Kennedy

Francis Phelan, ex-ballplayer, part-time gravedigger, full-time drunk, has hit bottom. Years ago he left Albany in a hurry after killing a scab during a trolley workers’ strike. He ran away again after accidentally—and fatally—dropping his infant son.

Now, in 1938, Francis is back in town, roaming the old familiar streets with his hobo pal, Helen, trying to make peace with the ghosts of the past and the present.

Book:That Night: A Novel

That Night: A Novel

Alice McDermott

Suburban Long Island in the 60s is the setting for this story of the binding love between a young couple, and the drastic actions they must take when she becomes pregnant. From the author of The Bigamist’s Daughter.

Book:The Lacuna

The Lacuna: A Novel

Barbara Kingsolver

In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.

Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico—from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City—Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd…[more]

Book:War Trash

War Trash: A novel

Ha Jin

War Trash, the extraordinary new novel by the National Book Award–winning author of Waiting, is Ha Jin’s most ambitious work to date: a powerful, unflinching story that opens a window on an unknown aspect of a little-known war—the experiences of Chinese POWs held by Americans during the Korean conflict—and paints an intimate portrait of conformity and dissent against a sweeping canvas of confrontation.

Set in 1951–53, War Trash takes the form of the memoir of Yu Yuan, a young Chinese army officer, one of a corps of “volunteers” sent by Mao to help shore up the Communist side in Korea. When Yu is captured, his command of English thrusts him into the role of unofficial interpreter in the psychological warfare that defines the POW camp.

Taking us behind the barbed wire, Ha Jin draws on true historical accounts to render the complex world the prisoners inhabit—a…[more]

Book:Amy and Isabelle

Amy and Isabelle

Elizabeth Strout

With compassion, humor, and striking insight, Amy and Isabelle explores the secrets of sexuality that jeopardize the lovebetween a mother and her daughter. Amy Goodrow, a shy high school student in a small mill town, falls in love with her math teacher, and together they cross the line between understandable fantasy and disturbing reality. When discovered, this emotional and physical trespass brings disgrace to Amy’s mother, Isabelle, and intensifies the shame she feels about her own past. In a fury, she lashes out at her daughter’s beauty and then retreats into outraged silence. Amy withdraws, too, and mother and daughter eat, sleep, and even work side by side but remain at a vast, seemingly unbridgeable distance from each other.

This conflict is surrounded by other large and small dramas in the town of Shirley Falls—a teenage pregnancy, a UFO sighting, a missing child, and the trials of Fat Bev, the community’s enormous (and enormously funny and compassionate) peacemaker…[more]

Views: 11,503 • Modified: • Elapsed: 0.032 sec