The 2015 National Book Awards were announced last night. It may or may not come as a surprise to you that the Fiction winner is Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson. His 2013 novel The Orphan Master’s Son won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize so when I saw his latest book on the shortlist I had a feeling he might take this prize. The winner in the Nonfiction category is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson
“Following 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)
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
““This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.” (GoodReads)