The 2010 National Book Awards were held last night and the winner is:
Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordan
This is what Publisher’s Weekly thought of Lord of Misrule:
“National Book Award-finalist Gordon’s new novel begins and ends at a backwoods race track in early-1970s West Virginia, where horse trainer Tommy Hansel dreams up a scam. He’ll run four horses in claiming races at long odds and get out before anyone realizes how good his horses are. But at a track as small as Indian Mound Downs, where everyone knows everybody’s business, Hansel’s hopes are quickly dashed. Soon his luminous, tragic girlfriend, Maggie, appears, drawing the eye of everyone, including sadistic gangster Joe Dale Bigg. Though Maggie finds herself with an unexpected protector in family gangster Two-Tie, even he can’t protect her from her own fascination with the track and its misfit members. While Gordon’s latest reaches for Great American Novel status, and her use of the colloquial voice perfectly evokes the time and place, constant shifts in perspective make the novel feel over-styled and under-plotted. And Maggie’s supposed charisma clashes with her behavior, leaving the feeling that something’s missing whereas Hansel is more witnessed than examined, his character developing almost entirely through the eyes of others, creating uncertainty that often borders on indifference. “
Read this interesting Interview of Jaimy Gordon by Bret Anthony Johnston – take a look at this excerpt:
BAJ: In the fiction category this year, each of the novels seems heavily researched. What role does research play in your writing process?
JG: Doing far more textual research than I need is one of my favorite ways of avoiding writing, and so, for Medicine Ed, I read what I could find on root-working and spells. As for horse racing, I had worked as a groom at half-mile racetracks from 1967 until 1970, but I did do some field research for Lord of Misrule at Pimlico. Robert Meyerhoff, owner of Broad Brush among other fine horses, arranged for me to talk to his trainer, Richard Small. I told Dick Small that I would like to talk to elderly black grooms who had been on the racetrack forever, and he sent me to Bubbles Riley, born in 1914, now age 96, one of the people to whom Lord of Misrule is dedicated. Bubbles had done much more than rub horses in his day, at West Virginia tracks as well as Pimlico, and he is far too foxy, worldly, gregarious, savvy in business, and downright postmodern to have been the model for Medicine Ed, but he told me hundreds of things I needed to know in the course of writing Lord of Misrule, and he still does.
The official website link: http://www.nationalbook.org/nba2010.html