Book Awards: Really?

Book AwardsI was reading a short notice announcing the finalists for the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and was intrigued when it was pointed out that there was no overlap between this award and either the National Book Award or the National Book Critics Circle Award. Think of it: three prestigious literature awards each had a different view of what they considered the best recent fiction. Could that be possible? Was there collusion?

Here are the three lists of finalists for fiction:

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XFX: Bleeding Edge

IBM 360When I went to college nothing was computerized. I had a friend who regularly went out to Cal Tech and would sit at his kitchen table for hours pouring over thick stacks of printer paper. Computers were at Cal Tech and Shakespeare was at the UC. By the early 1970s I was working with computers, mostly for data communications and data analysis. A little more than five years my technological experiences went from my first electric typewriter to programming the then mighty IBM 360. What a combination: steeped in poetry and drama yet being paid to conduct traffic studies and coordinate message switching activities in the telecommunications industry.

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Will you read these?

NBAOver here in the politically challenged United States we have our own national book award called, conveniently, the National Book Award. What amazes me is that we have not as yet attached a commercial sponsor to the award: How does the Qualcomm Book Award sound? Maybe the EBay Book Award? The Red Bull Book Award?

Today the National Book Foundation announced the 2013 National Book Award finalists, with five nominees in each of the four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature. The winners will be named at a gala dinner and ceremony in New York on Nov. 20.

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