Thursday, September 24, 2009

The National Book Foundation meets American Idol

For those of you who are interested, The National Book Foundation is currently hosting a poll to discover what America considers the best work of fiction to win a National Book Award in the past 59 years. The choices include The Stories of John Cheever, William Faulkner’s Collected Stories, The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor, The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity Rainbow.

According to The New York Times, the finalists were determined when "the National Book Foundation, which administers the awards that compete with the Pulitzer Prize for prestige, invited 600 former judges, winners and finalists in all of its categories [...] to select three of their favorites from the 77 past fiction winners."

I will not personally vote in the poll as I have only read one John Cheever piece, several Flannery O'Connor pieces, and excerpts of Invisible Man. Therefore, I do not feel qualified to vote in such a poll, not even to see the results thus far. (I will say it is noteworthy, however, that four out of the six finalists are, in fact, collections of fiction rather than novels. That would seem to complicate the decision-making process.)

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