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 World According to Garp (20th anniversary edition)

by John Irving

This is the life and times of T. S. Garp, the bastard son of Jenny Fields--a feminist leader ahead of her times. This is the life and death of a famous mother and her almost-famous son; theirs is a world of sexual extremes--even of sexual assassinations. It is a novel rich with "lunacy and sorrow"; yet the dark, violent events of the story do not undermine a comedy both ribald and robust. In more than thirty languages, in more than forty countries--with more than ten million copies in print--this novel provides almost cheerful, even hilarious evidence of its famous last line: "In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases."

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1980

Cold Mountain

by Charles Frazier

One of the most acclaimed novels in recent memory, Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain is a masterpiece that is at once an enthralling adventure, a stirring love story, and a luminous evocation of a vanished American in all its savagery, solitude, and splendor.

Sorely wounded and fatally disillusioned in the fighting at Petersburg, Inman, a Confederate soldier, decides to walk back to his home in the Blue Ridge Mountains and to Ada, the woman he loved there years before. His trek across the disintegrating South brings him into intimate and sometimes lethal converse with slaves and marauders, bounty hunters and witches, both helpful and malign. At the same time, Ada is trying to revive her father's derelict farm and learn to survive in a world where the old certainties have been swept away. As it interweaves their stories, Cold Mountain asserts itself as an authentic American Odyssey--hugely powerful, majestically lovely, and keenly moving.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1997

From Here to Eternity

by James Jones

James Jones’s epic story of army life in the calm before Pearl Harbor—now with previously censored scenes and dialogue restored

At the Pearl Harbor army base in 1941, Robert E. Lee Prewitt is Uncle Sam’s finest bugler. A career soldier with no patience for army politics, Prewitt becomes incensed when a commander’s favorite wins the title of First Bugler. His indignation results in a transfer to an infantry unit whose commander is less interested in preparing for war than he is in boxing. But when Prewitt refuses to join the company team, the commander and his sergeant decide to make the bugler’s life hell.

An American classic now available with scenes and dialogue considered unfit for publication in the 1950s, From Here to Eternity is a stirring picture of army life in the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of James Jones including rare photos from the author’s estate.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1952

A Fable

by William Faulkner

An allegorical story of World War I, set in the trenches in France and dealing ostensibly with a mutiny in a French regiment, it was originally considered a sharp departure for Faulkner. Recently it has come to be recognized as one of his major works and an essential part of the Faulkner oeuvre.

This novel won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1955.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1955

The Centaur

by John Updike

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD AND THE PRIX DU MEILLEUR LIVRE ÉTRANGER The Centaur is a modern retelling of the legend of Chiron, the noblest and wisest of the centaurs, who, painfully wounded yet unable to die, gave up his immortality on behalf of Prometheus. In the retelling, Olympus becomes small-town Olinger High School; Chiron is George Caldwell, a science teacher there; and Prometheus is Caldwell's fifteen-year-old son, Peter. Brilliantly conflating the author's remembered past with tales from Greek mythology, John Updike translates Chiron's agonized search for relief into the incidents and accidents of three winter days spent in rural Pennsylvania in 1947. The result, said the judges of the National Book Award, is "a courageous and brilliant account of a conflict in gifts between an inarticulate American father and his highly articulate son."

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1964

The Color Purple

by Alice Walker

Alice Walker's masterpiece, a powerful novel of courage in the face of oppression

Celie has grown up in rural Georgia, navigating a childhood of ceaseless abuse. Not only is she poor and despised by the society around her, she's badly treated by her family. As a teenager she begins writing letters directly to God in an attempt to transcend a life that often seems too much to bear. Her letters span twenty years and record a journey of self-discovery and empowerment through the guiding light of a few strong women and her own implacable will to find harmony with herself and her home.

The Color Purple's deeply inspirational narrative, coupled with Walker's prodigious talent as a stylist and storyteller, have made the novel a contemporary classic of American letters.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Alice Walker including rare photos from the author's personal collection.

Winner of the National Book Award

Pulitzer Prize Winner

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1983

Ten North Frederick

by Jonathan Dee and John O'Hara

The National Book Award-winning novel by the writer whom Fran Lebowitz called "the real F. Scott Fitzgerald"Joe Chapin led a storybook life.

A successful small-town lawyer with a beautiful wife, two over-achieving children, and aspirations to be president, he seemed to have it all. But as his daughter looks back on his life, a different man emerges: one in conflict with his ambitious and shrewish wife, terrified that the misdeeds of his children will dash his political dreams, and in love with a model half his age. With black wit and penetrating insight, Ten North Frederick stands with Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road, Evan S. Connell's Mr. Bridge and Mrs. Bridge, the stories of John Cheever, and Mad Men as a brilliant portrait of the personal and political hypocrisy of mid-century America.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1956

Mating

by Norman Rush

The narrator of this splendidly expansive novel of high intellect and grand passion is an American anthropologist at loose ends in the South African republic of Botswana. She has a noble and exacting mind, a good waist, and a busted thesis project. She also has a yen for Nelson Denoon, a charismatic intellectual who is rumored to have founded a secretive and unorthodox utopian society in a remote corner of the Kalahari--one in which he is virtually the only man. What ensues is both a quest and an exuberant comedy of manners, a book that explores the deepest canyons of eros even as it asks large questions about the good society, the geopolitics of poverty, and the baffling mystery of what men and women really want.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1991

Middle Passage

by Charles Johnson

It is 1830. Rutherford Calhoun, a newly freed slave and irrepressible rogue, is desperate to escape unscrupulous bill collectors and an impending marriage to a priggish schoolteacher. He jumps aboard the first boat leaving New Orleans, the Republic, a slave ship en route to collect members of a legendary African tribe, the Allmuseri. Thus begins a daring voyage of horror and self-discovery.

Peopled with vivid and unforgettable characters, nimble in its interplay of comedy and serious ideas, this dazzling modern classic is a perfect blend of the picaresque tale, historical romance, sea yarn, slave narrative, and philosophical novel.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1990

Fortune Smiles

by Adam Johnson

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his acclaimed novel about North Korea, The Orphan Master’s Son, Adam Johnson is one of America’s most provocative and powerful authors. Critics have compared him to Kurt Vonnegut, David Mitchell, and George Saunders, but Johnson’s new book will only further his reputation as one of our most original writers. Subtly surreal, darkly comic, both hilarious and heartbreaking, Fortune Smiles is a major collection of stories that gives voice to the perspectives we don’t often hear, while offering something rare in fiction: a new way of looking at the world.

In six masterly stories, Johnson delves deep into love and loss, natural disasters, the influence of technology, and how the political shapes the personal. “Nirvana,” which won the prestigious Sunday Times short story prize, portrays a programmer whose wife has a rare disease finding solace in a digital simulacrum of the president of the United States. In “Hurricanes Anonymous”—first included in the Best American Short Stories anthology—a young man searches for the mother of his son in a Louisiana devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. “George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine” follows a former warden of a Stasi prison in East Germany who vehemently denies his past, even as pieces of it are delivered in packages to his door. And in the unforgettable title story, Johnson returns to his signature subject, North Korea, depicting two defectors from Pyongyang who are trying to adapt to their new lives in Seoul, while one cannot forget the woman he left behind.

Unnerving, riveting, and written with a timeless quality, these stories confirm Johnson as one of America’s greatest writers and an indispensable guide to our new century.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2015

Europe Central

by Vollmann and William T.

In this magnificent work of fiction, William T. Vollmann turns his trenchant eye to the authoritarian cultures of Germany and the USSR in the twentieth century. Assembling a composite portrait of these two warring leviathans and the terrible age they defined, the narrative intertwines experiences both real and fictional: a young German who joins the SS to expose its crimes, two generals who collaborate with the enemy for different reasons, the Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich laboring under Stalinist oppression. Through these and other lives, Vollmann offers a daring and mesmerizing perspective on human actions during wartime.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2005

Sister Wolf

by Ann Arensberg

On a June night in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, Marit Deym prowls her land, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the van from the Dangerfield Zoo. When it finally comes--hours late--five wolves leap out onto the sprawling wildlife refuge Marit has created. And then one night, the wolves bring a stranger to her door.A poetry instructor at a school for the blind, Gabriel Frankman lives in self-imposed exile after the death of the girl he loved. He visits her grave every weekend. He carries sunflower seeds in his backpack and his friends are the birds. Meeting the girl who keeps wolves will transform Gabriel's life in ways he could never imagine.Haunting and lyrical, shot through with grace notes of passion and sorrow, Sister Wolf is about the power of human beings--like that of their animal brethren--to survive and endure.

Winner of the National Book Award for Best First Novel

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1981

Collected Stories

by William Faulkner

"I'm a failed poet. Maybe every novelist wants to write poetry first, finds he can't and then tries the short story which is the most demanding form after poetry. And failing that, only then does he take up novel writing." --William Faulkner

Forty-two stories make up this magisterial collection by the writer who stands at the pinnacle of modern American fiction. Compressing an epic expanse of vision into hard and wounding narratives, Faulkner's stories evoke the intimate textures of place, the deep strata of history and legend, and all the fear, brutality, and tenderness of the human condition. These tales are set not only in Yoknapatawpha County, but in Beverly Hills and in France during World War I. They are populated by such characters as the Faulknerian archetypes Flem Snopes and Quentin Compson, as well as by ordinary men and women who emerge so sharply and indelibly in these pages that they dwarf the protagonists of most novels.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1951

World's Fair

by E. L. Doctorow

The astonishing novel of a young boy's life in the New York City of the 1930s, a stunning recreation of the sights, sounds, aromas and emotions of a time when the streets were safe, families stuck together through thick and thin, and all the promises of a generation culminate in a single great World's Fair...

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1986

Augustus

by John A. Williams

A brilliant and beautifully written novel in the tradition of Robert Graves’ I, Claudius, Augustus is a sweeping narrative that brings vividly to life a compelling cast of historical figures through their letters, dispatches, and memoirs.

A mere eighteen years of age when his uncle, Julius Caesar, is murdered, Octavius Caesar prematurely inherits rule of the Roman Republic. Surrounded by men who are jockeying for power–Cicero, Brutus, Cassius, and Mark Antony–young Octavius must work against the powerful Roman political machinations to claim his destiny as first Roman emperor. Sprung from meticulous research and the pen of a true poet, Augustus tells the story of one man’s dream to liberate a corrupt Rome from the fancy of the capriciously crooked and the wildly wealthy.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1973

The Good Lord Bird

by James Mcbride

From the bestselling author of The Color of Water and Song Yet Sung comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown’s antislavery crusade—and who must pass as a girl to survive.

Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.

Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—one of the great catalysts for the Civil War.

An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride’s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.

Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, 2013

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2013

The Waters of Kronos

by Conrad Richter

From the time of its first publication in 1960, Conrad Richter's The Waters of Kronos sparked lively debate about the extent to which its story of a belated return to childhood scenes mirrored key events of Richter's own life. As was well known at the time, Richter had spent several years in the Southwest, where he collected the material for his first successful book, Early Americans and Other Stories, but by 1933, he had returned to live in his hometown, Pine Grove, Pennsylvania. John Donner, the main protagonist in The Waters of Kronos, traces a similar route from west to east, although he finds that his family home and native town have been submerged under the deep waters of a lake formed by the construction of a hydroelectric dam. As Richter narrates his alter ego's efforts to salvage his past, he moves beyond "semi-autobiography" to offer what are widely recognized as his most haunting reflections upon the power of family history, the fragility of human memory, and art's role in structuring the communal ethos.

Winner of the National Book Award

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 1961

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

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 Underground Railroad

by Colson Whitehead

Amagnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood—where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned—Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor—engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Oprah's Book Club 2016 Selection

National Book Award Winner

A New York Times Bestseller

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2016

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

Redeployment

by Phil Klay

Winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction.

Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos.

In "Redeployment", a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people "who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died." In "After Action Report", a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn't commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened. A Morturary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains--of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both. A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel. And in the darkly comic "Money as a Weapons System", a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball. These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier's daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier's homecoming.

Redeployment is poised to become a classic in the tradition of war writing. Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss. Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this work marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation.

Date Added: 05/25/2017


Year: 2014


Showing 1 through 25 of 78 results