Special Collections

National Book Award Winners - Fiction

Description: The National Book Awards are presented annually "to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America." Here we present the Fiction medal winners. #award #adults


Showing 1 through 25 of 78 results
 

White Noise

by Don Delillo

'An extraordinarily funny book on a serious subject, effortlessly combining social comedy, disaster, fiction and philosophy...hilariously, and grimly, successful' Daily Telegraph

Jack Gladney is the creator and chairman of Hitler studies at the College-on-the-Hill. This is the story of his absurd life; a life that is going well enough, until a chemical spill from a rail car releases an 'Airborne Toxic Event' and Jack is forced to confront his biggest fear - his own mortality.

White Noise is an effortless combination of social satire and metaphysical dilemma in which DeLillo exposes our rampant consumerism, media saturation and novelty intellectualism. It captures the particular strangeness of life lived when the fear of death cannot be denied, repressed or obscured and ponders the role of the family in a time when the very meaning of our existence is under threat.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 01/15/2019


Year: 1985

The Friend

by Sigrid Nunez

A moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog.

When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog's care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.

Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.

Winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction

Date Added: 11/15/2018


Year: 2018

Sing, Unburied, Sing

by Jesmyn Ward

A searing and profound Southern odyssey by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward.

In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award–winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. Ward is a major American writer, multiply awarded and universally lauded, and in Sing, Unburied, Sing she is at the height of her powers.

Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.

Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature.

Date Added: 11/21/2017


Year: 2017

The Eighth Day

by Thornton Wilder

On a Sunday afternoon in 1902 in Coaltown, Illinois, mine manager Breckenridge Lansing is shot and killed at a target practice. John Ashley, a longtime family friend, is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. On his way to the execution a mysterious rescue party takes over the prisoner's railway car and spirits him away. This sprawling novel lays bare the lives of the Ashley and Lansing families, each marked with tragedy yet sustained by hope. Wilder sees this story as part of the vast weave of human history. The novel examines large philosophical themes - faith, hope, love, and the meaning of life. The intricate plot is powered by two questions: who really killed Breckenridge Lansing? And who were the rescuers who saved John Ashley's life?

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1968

The Great Fire

by Shirley Hazzard

The Great Fire is an extraordinary love story set in the immediate aftermath of the great conflagration of the Second World War. In war-torn Asia and stricken Europe, men and women, still young but veterans of harsh experience, must reinvent their lives and expectations, and learn, from their past, to dream again. Some will fulfill their destinies, others will falter. At the center of the story, a brave and brilliant soldier finds that survival and worldly achievement are not enough. His counterpart, a young girl living in occupied Japan and tending her dying brother, falls in love, and in the process discovers herself.

In the looming shadow of world enmities resumed, and of Asia's coming centrality in world affairs, a man and a woman seek to recover self-reliance, balance, and tenderness, struggling to reclaim their humanity. The Great Fire is a story of love in the aftermath of war by "purely and simply, one of the greatest writers working in English today." (Michael Cunningham)

The Great Fire is the winner of the 2003 National Book Award for Fiction.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2003

Charming Billy

by Alice Mcdermott

Billy Lynch's family and friends have gathered at a small Bronx bar. They have come to comfort his widow and to eulogize one of the last great romantics, trading tales of his famous humor, immense charm, and unfathomable sorrow. As they linger on into this extraordinary night, their voices form Billy's tragic story and their mourning becomes a gentle homage to all the lives in their small community fractured by grief, shattered by secrets, and sustained by the simple dream of love.

National Book Award Winner.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1998

The Magic Barrel

by Bernard Malamud

Thirteen short stories, mostly about first-generation Jewish immigrants in America

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1959

The Echo Maker

by Richard Powers

On a winter night on a remote Nebraska road, 27-year-old Mark Schluter flips his truck in a near-fatal accident. His older sister Karin, his only near kin, returns reluctantly to their hometown to nurse Mark back from a traumatic head injury. But when he emerges from a protracted coma, Mark believes that this woman–who looks, acts, and sounds just like his sister–is really an identical impostor. Shattered by her brother's refusal to recognize her, Karin contacts the cognitive neurologist Gerald Weber, famous for his case histories describing the infinitely bizarre worlds of brain disorder. Weber recognizes Mark as a rare case of Capgras Syndrome, a doubling delusion, and eagerly investigates. What he discovers in Mark slowly undermines even his own sense of being. Meanwhile, Mark, armed only with a note left by an anonymous witness, attempts to learn what happened the night of his inexplicable accident. The truth of that evening will change the lives of all three beyond recognition.

Set against the Platte River's massive spring migrations–one of the greatest spectacles in nature–The Echo Maker is a gripping mystery that explores the improvised human self and the even more precarious brain that splits us from and joins us to the rest of creation.

The Echo Maker is the winner of the 2006 National Book Award for Fiction.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2006

Chimera

by John Barth

Chimera is a 310 page mythological fantasy novel written by the distinguished novelist and Humanities professor John Barth and first published in 1972. Random House provides the following illustration and analysis of the work's artistic tone and value:

"At this point I interrupted my sister as usual to say, 'You have a way with words, Scheherazade. This is the thousandth night I've sat at the foot of your bed while you and the King made love and you told him stories, and the one in progress holds me like a genie's gaze.'"

The speaker here is Dunyazade, kid sister of Scheherazade of The Thousand and One Nights, who has her own way with words. There is also Perseus, the demigod who slew the Gorgon Medusa, and yet finds himself at forty "sealeveled, parched and plucked, every grain in my molted sandals raising blisters, and beleaguered by the serpents of my past." And Bellerophon, the hero who tames the winged horse Pegasus only to discover, "My life's a failure. I'm not a mythic hero. I never will be." Like the Chimera of myth, which had a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail, they are all joined into a single, dazzling whole that is, in a sense, the culmination of all of John Barth's work thus far, transforming myth into daily reality and vice versa.

"To the objection that classical mythology, like the Bible, is no longer a staple of the average reader's education and that, consequently, the old agonies of Oedipus or Antigone are without effect on contemporary sensibility, I reply, hum, I forget what, something about comedy and selfexplanatory context."

The reader needs no previous acquaintance with the characters to be caught up in this hilariously exuberant exploration of the nature of the hero, the multitudinous relationships between men and women, and the mortal search for immortality, which, it is persuasively suggested, may lie not in deeds but in words.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1973

All the Pretty Horses

by Cormac Mccarthy

The national bestseller and the first volume in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy, All the Pretty Horses is the tale of John Grady Cole, who at sixteen finds himself at the end of a long line of Texas ranchers, cut off from the only life he has ever imagined for himself. With two companions, he sets off for Mexico on a sometimes idyllic, sometimes comic journey to a place where dreams are paid for in blood.

Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1992

Tree of Smoke

by Denis Johnson

The story of William 'Skip' Sands, CIA, engaged in Psychological Operations against the Viet Cong, and the disasters that befall him. Also the story of the Houston brothers, Bill and James, young men who drift out of the Arizona desert and into a war where the line between disinformation and delusion has blurred away. In its vision of human folly, this is a story like nothing in our literature.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2007

Birdie

by William Wharton

An amazement. . . a combination of flashback and interior monologue that Freud and Joyce would both be proud of. . . [Birdy] is a philosophical romance of the highest order. It gleams with remembered youth, and desire, and the emancipating dream. It is at home with the irrational. . . an enchanting book.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1980

The Corrections

by Jonathan Franzen

After almost fifty years as a wife and mother, Enid Lambert is ready to have some fun. Unfortunately, her husband, Alfred, is losing his sanity to Parkinson's disease, and their children have long since flown the family nest to the catastrophes of their own lives. The oldest, Gary, a once-stable portfolio manager and family man, is trying to convince his wife and himself, despite clear signs to the contrary, that he is not clinically depressed. The middle child, Chip, has lost his seemingly secure academic job and is failing spectacularly at his new line of work. And Denise, the youngest, has escaped a disastrous marriage only to pour her youth and beauty down the drain of an affair with a married man-or so her mother fears. Desperate for some pleasure to look forward to, Enid has set her heart on an elusive goal: bringing her family together for one last Christmas at home.

Winner of the 2001 National Book Award for Fiction

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2001

Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories

by Philip Roth

Goodbye, Columbus; The Conversion of the Jews; Defender of the Faith; Epstein; You Can't Tell a Man by the Song He Sings; and Eli, the Fanatic. Also an introduction by the author.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1960

Mr. Sammler's Planet

by Saul Bellow

Mr. Artur Sammler, Holocaust survivor, intellectual, and occasional lecturer at Columbia University in 1960s New York City, is a “registrar of madness,” a refined and civilized being caught among people crazy with the promises of the future (moon landings, endless possibilities). His Cyclopean gaze reflects on the degradations of city life while looking deep into the sufferings of the human soul. “Sorry for all and sore at heart,” he observes how greater luxury and leisure have only led to more human suffering. To Mr. Sammler—who by the end of this ferociously unsentimental novel has found the compassionate consciousness necessary to bridge the gap between himself and his fellow beings—a good life is one in which a person does what is “required of him.” To know and to meet the “terms of the contract” was as true a life as one could live. At its heart, this novel is quintessential Bellow: moral, urbane, sublimely humane.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1971

The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter

by Katherine Anne Porter

Porter’s reputation as one of Americanca’s most distinguished writers rests chiefly on her superb short stories. This volume includes the collections Flowering Judas; Pale Horse, Pale Rider; and The Leaning Tower as well as four stories not available elsewhere in book form.

Winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1966

In America

by Susan Sontag

In America is a kaleidoscopic portrait of America on the cusp of modernity. As she did in her enormously popular novel The Volcano Lover, Susan Sontag casts a story located in the past in a fresh, provocative light to create a fictional world full of contemporary resonance.

In 1876 a group of Poles led by Maryna Zalezowska, Poland's greatest actress, emigrate to the United States and travel to California to found a "utopian commune." When the commune fails, Maryna stays, learns English, and―as Marina Zalenska―forges a new, even more triumphant career on the American stage, becoming a diva on par with Sara Bernhardt.

In America is about many things: a woman's search for self-transformation; the fate of idealism; a life in the theater; the many varieties of love; and, not least of all, stories and storytelling itself. Operatic in the scope and intensity of the emotions it depicts, richly detailed and visionary in its account of America, and peopled with unforgettable characters.

In America is the winner of the 2000 National Book Award for Fiction.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2000

The Wapshot Chronicle

by John Cheever

This National Book Award winner depicts the lives of the Wapshot family members, residents of the fishing village St. Botolphs, Massachusetts.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1958

The Hair of Harold Roux

by Thomas Williams

In The Hair of Harold Roux, we are introduced to Aaron Benham: college professor, writer, husband, and father. Aaron-when he can focus-is at work on a novel, The Hair of Harold Roux, a thinly disguised autobiographical account of his college days. In Aaron's novel, his alter ego, Allard Benson, courts a young woman, despite the efforts of his rival, the earnest and balding Harold Roux-a GI recently returned from World War II with an unfortunate hairpiece. What unfolds through Aaron's mind, his past and present, and his nested narratives is a fascinating exploration of sex and friendship, responsibility and regret, youth and middle age, and the essential fictions that see us through.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1975

Blood Tie

by Mary Lee Settle

The story tells the political, social, psychological and anthropological aspects of American and European expatriates who took refugee in an ancient Turkish city.

Winner of the 1978 National Book Award.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1978

A Frolic of His Own

by William Gaddis

A dazzling fourth novel by the author of The Recognitions, Carpenter’s Gothic, and JR uses his considerable powers of observation and satirical sensibilities to take on the American legal system.

Winner of the 1994 National Book Award.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1994

Spartina

by John Casey

A classic tale of a man, a boat, and a storm, Spartina is the lyrical and compassionate story of Dick Pierce, a commercial fisherman along the shores of Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay. A kind, sensitive, family man, he is also prone to irascible outbursts against the people he must work for, now that he can no longer make his living from the sea.

Pierce's one great passion, a fifty-foot fishing boat called Spartina, lies unfinished in his back yard. Determined to get the funds he needs to buy her engine, he finds himself taking a foolish, dangerous risk. But his real test comes when he must weather a storm at sea in order to keep his dream alive. Moving and poetic, Spartina is a masterly story of one man's ongoing struggle to find his place in the world.

Winner of the 1989 National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1989

Stones for Ibarra

by Harriet Doerr

Two Americans, Richard and Sara Everton, are the only foreigners in Ibarra. They live among people who both respect and misunderstand them, and gradually, the villagers--at first enigmas to the Evertons--come to teach them much about life and the relentless tide of fate.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1984

The Complete Stories Of Flannery O'Connor

by Flannery O'Connor

The publication of this extraordinary volume firmly established Flannery O'Connor's monumental contribution to American fiction. There are thirty-one stories here in all, including twelve that do not appear in the only two story collections O'Connor put together in her short lifetime--Everything That Rises Must Converge and A Good Man Is Hard to Find.

O'Connor published her first story, "The Geranium," in 1946, while she was working on her master's degree at the University of Iowa. Arranged chronologically, this collection shows that her last story, "Judgement Day"--sent to her publisher shortly before her death―is a brilliantly rewritten and transfigured version of "The Geranium." Taken together, these stories reveal a lively, penetrating talent that has given us some of the most powerful and disturbing fiction of the twentieth century. Also included is an introduction by O'Connor's longtime editor and friend, Robert Giroux.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1972

Herzog

by Saul Bellow

Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, Herzog is the story of Moses Herzog, great sufferer, joker and moaner, cuckold, charmer, a man of our time.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1965


Showing 1 through 25 of 78 results