2015 NBA Longlist

The 2015 National Book Award Longlist has been released.  Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara were also both recently longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize.  All blurbs are from GoodReads.  Here are the ten books that made the NBA cut:

 

Jesse Ball, A Cure for Suicide (Pantheon Books)

A Cure for Suicide jesse ballFrom the author of Silence Once Begun—one of our most audacious and original writers—a beguiling new novel about a man starting over at the most basic level, and the strange woman who insinuates herself into his life and memory.  A man and a woman have moved into a small house in a small village. The woman is an “examiner,” the man, her “claimant.” The examiner is both doctor and guide, charged with teaching the claimant a series of simple functions: this is a chair, this is a fork, this is how you meet people. She makes notes in her journal about his progress: he is showing improvement, yet his dreams are troubling. One day, the examiner brings him to a party, and here he meets Hilda, a charismatic but volatile woman whose surprising assertions throw everything the claimant has learned into question. What is this village? Why is he here? And who is Hilda? A fascinating novel of love, illness, despair, and betrayal, A Cure for Suicide is the most captivating novel yet from one of our most exciting young writers.  (GoodReads)

 

Karen E. Bender, Refund: Stories (Counterpoint Press)

refund stories karen E benderIn Refund, Bender creates an award-winning collection of stories that deeply explore the ways in which money and the estimation of value affect the lives of her characters. The stories in Refund reflect our contemporary world—swindlers, reality show creators, desperate artists, siblings, parents — who try to answer the question: What is the real definition of worth?  In “Theft,” an eighty-year-old swindler, accustomed to tricking people for their money, boards a cruise ship to see if she can find something of true value—a human connection. In “Anything for Money,” the creator of a reality show is thrown into the real world when his estranged granddaughter reenters his life in need of a new heart; and in the title story, young artist parents in downtown Manhattan escape the attack on 9/11 only to face a battle over their subletted apartment with a stranger who might have lost more than only her deposit.  Set in contemporary America, these stories herald a work of singular literary merit by an important writer at the height of her power. (GoodReads)

 

Bill Clegg, Did You Ever Have a Family (Scout Press/Simon & Schuster)

did you ever have a family by bill cleggThis book of dark secrets opens with a blaze. On the morning of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s house goes up in flames, destroying her entire family – her present, her past and her future. Fleeing from the carnage, stricken and alone, June finds herself in a motel room by the ocean, hundreds of miles from her Connecticut home, held captive by memories and the mistakes she has made with her only child, Lolly, and her partner, Luke.  In the turbulence of grief and gossip left in June’s wake we slowly make sense of the unimaginable. The novel is a gathering of voices, and each testimony has a new revelation about what led to the catastrophe – Luke’s alienated mother Lydia, the watchful motel owners, their cleaner Cissy, the teenage pothead who lives nearby – everyone touched by the tragedy finds themselves caught in the undertow, as their secret histories finally come to light.  Lit by the clarity of understanding that true sadness brings, Did You Ever Have a Family is an elegant, unforgettable story that reveals humanity at its worst and best, through loss and love, fracture and forgiveness. At the book’s heart is the idea of family – the ones we are born with and the ones we create – and the desire, in the face of everything, to go on living. (GoodReads)

 

Angela Flournoy, The Turner House (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

 turner house Angela FlournoyThe Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone—and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit’s East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts—and shapes—their family’s future.  Praised by Ayana Mathis as “utterly moving” and “un-putdownable,” The Turner House brings us a colorful, complicated brood full of love and pride, sacrifice and unlikely inheritances. It’s a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams and futures, and the ways in which our families bring us home. (GoodReads)

 

Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies (Riverhead Books/Penguin Random House)

fates and furies lauren groffFates and Furies is a literary masterpiece that defies expectation. A dazzling examination of a marriage, it is also a portrait of creative partnership written by one of the best writers of her generation.  Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.  At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart. (GoodReads)

 

Adam Johnson, Fortune Smiles: Stories (Random House)

fortune smiles adam johnsonFollowing his Pulitzer Prize for Fiction triumph for The Orphan Master’s Son Adam Johnson became recognized as an American literary giant.  These brand new stories from Johnson are typically comic and tender, absurd and totally universal. In post-Katrina Louisiana, a young man and his new girlfriend search for the mother of his son. In Palo Alto, a computer programmer whose wife has a rare disease finds solace in a digital copy of the recently assassinated President. In contemporary Berlin a former Stasi agent ponders his past.  And in the stunning title story, a woman with cancer rages against the idea of her family without her. Hugely inventive and endlessly energetic, this is a heart wrenching, surprising collection of stories that show Johnson at the top of his form.  (GoodReads)

T. Geronimo Johnson, Welcome to Braggsville (William Morrow/HarperCollins)

Welcome to Braggsville T Geronimo JohnsonWelcome to Braggsville. The City that Love Built in the Heart of Georgia. Population 712.  Born and raised in the heart of old Dixie, D’aron Davenport finds himself in unfamiliar territory his freshman year at UC Berkeley. Two thousand miles and a world away from his childhood, he is a small-town fish floundering in the depths of a large, hyper-liberal pond. Caught between the prosaic values of his rural hometown and the intellectualized multicultural cosmopolitanism of Berzerkeley, the nineteen-year-old white kid is uncertain about his place until one disastrous party brings him three idiosyncratic best friends: Louis, a “kung-fu comedian” from California; Candice, an earnest do-gooder claiming Native roots from Iowa; and Charlie, an introspective inner-city black teen from Chicago. They dub themselves the “4 Little Indians.”  But everything changes in the group’s alternative history class, when D’aron lets slip that his hometown hosts an annual Civil War reenactment, recently rebranded “Patriot Days.” His announcement is met with righteous indignation, and inspires Candice to suggest a “performative intervention” to protest the reenactment. Armed with youthful self-importance, makeshift slave costumes, righteous zeal, and their own misguided ideas about the South, the 4 Little Indians descend on Braggsville. Their journey through backwoods churches, backroom politics, Waffle Houses, and drunken family barbecues is uproarious to start, but will have devastating consequences.  With the keen wit of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and the deft argot of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, T. Geronimo Johnson has written an astonishing, razor-sharp satire. Using a panoply of styles and tones, from tragicomic to Southern Gothic, he skewers issues of class, race, intellectual and political chauvinism, Obamaism, social media, and much more.  A literary coming-of-age novel for a new generation, written with tremendous social insight and a unique, generous heart, Welcome to Braggsville reminds us of the promise and perils of youthful exuberance, while painting an indelible portrait of contemporary America.  (GoodReads)

 

Edith Pearlman, Honeydew (Little, Brown/Hachette Book Group)

honeydew by edith pearlmanFrom the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Binocular Vision, Honeydew further solidifies Edith Pearlman’s place among the likes of all-time great story writers such as John Updike, Alice Munro, Frank O’Connor, and Anton Chekhov.  Pearlman writes about the predicaments of being human. The title story involves an affair, an illegitimate pregnancy, anorexia, and adolescent drug use, but the real excitement comes from the intricate attention Pearlman devotes to the interior life of young Emily, who wishes she were a bug. In “Sonny,” a mother prays for her daughters to be barren so they never have to experience the death of a child. “The Golden Swan” transports the reader to a cruise ship with lavish buffets-and a surprise stowaway.  In prose that is as wise as it is poetic, Pearlman shines light on small, devastatingly precise moments to reflect the beauty and grace found in everyday life. She maps the psychological landscapes of her exquisitely rendered characters with unending compassion and seeming effortlessness.  Both for its artistry and for the lives of the characters it presents, Honeydew is a collection that will pull readers back time and again. These stories demonstrate once more that Pearlman is a master of the form and that hers is a vision unfailingly wise and forgiving. (GoodReads)

 

Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life (Doubleday/Penguin Random House)

a little life by hanya yanagiharaWhen four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.  In rich and resplendent prose, Yanagihara has fashioned a tragic and transcendent hymn to brotherly love, a masterful depiction of heartbreak, and a dark examination of the tyranny of memory and the limits of human endurance. (GoodReads)

 

Nell Zink, Mislaid (Ecco/HarperCollins)

mislaid nell zinkStillwater College in Virginia, 1966: Freshman Peggy, an ingénue with literary pretensions, falls under the spell of Lee, a blue-blooded poet and professor, and they begin an ill-advised affair that results in an unplanned pregnancy and marriage. The couple are mismatched from the start—she’s a lesbian, he’s gay—but it takes a decade of emotional erosion before Peggy runs off with their three-year-old daughter, leaving their nine-year-old son behind.  Worried that Lee will have her committed for her erratic behavior, Peggy goes underground, adopting an African American persona for her and her daughter. They squat in a house in an African American settlement, eventually moving to a housing project where no one questions their true racial identities. As Peggy and Lee’s children grow up, they must contend with diverse emotional issues: Byrdie must deal with his father’s compulsive honesty; while Karen struggles with her mother’s lies—she knows neither her real age, nor that she is “white,” nor that she has any other family.  Years later, a minority scholarship lands Karen at the University of Virginia, where Byrdie is in his senior year. Eventually the long lost siblings will meet, setting off a series of misunderstandings and culminating in a comedic finale worthy of Shakespeare. (GoodReads)

 

NBA Official Site

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Verity M

Writer. Love Reading, Photography, & Life Design. I'm all about Curiosity & Creativity.

4 thoughts on “2015 NBA Longlist”

    1. My pleasure Jane – I’ll definitely be stopping by your blog to see more of your photography. Thanks for having a read on Lilolia! I’ve just started a new photography blog of my own https://nomadicimageination.wordpress.com/ if you’re interested. Have a good weekend! I’m sure you’ll have an awesome contribution for this week’s photo challenge.

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