The winners of this year's National Book Awards were announced yesterday. And despite the fact that more men are still being published and reviewed by major literary outlets than women, according to this 2010 study by VIDA, ladies really represented this year. As noted by Jezebel, women brought home top prizes in both the Fiction and Non-Fiction categories, and we couldn't be more thrilled. Clearly, girl power is back.
And before you hurry to your library or local bookstore (because you really should), here's a quick overview of the four winning books that you ought to dive into.
Fiction: The Roundhouse, by Louise Erdrich
Louise Erdrich brought home the bacon with her hard-hitting novel The Roundhouse. The protagonist is Joe Coutts, a 13-year-old boy living on the Ojibwe Reservation in Hoopdance, North Dakota, whose mother is the victim of an atrocious crime. The story follows him as he attempts to find the perpetrator, all the while navigating his unraveling family life and the obstacles of his tribe's judiciary system. Dimensional, fully drawn-out characters, and Erdrich's beautifully crafted prose, we're not surprised that she took the gold.
Non-Fiction: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, by Katherine Boo
Following the interconnected tales of a number of residents living in Annawadi, a slum in the outskirts of the Sahar International Airport in Mumbai, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Katherine Boo presents a heartbreaking work of narrative non-fiction. There is the woman with aspirations to be a slumlord, a young man whose expertise at sifting through garbage for recyclables bears the hopes of changing his family's fortunes, and a one-legged neighbor so jealous of the young man's successes, she tries to frame him for murder — her own.
Poetry: Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations, by David Ferry
Born in Orange, New Jersey in 1924, David Ferry is 88 year old and he'll tell you: "It is a breath-taking, near-death, experience." Though his poetry may be, at times, plainspoken, it's crafted in the most careful way. Ferry was also awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for his lifetime achievements in 2011.
Young People's Literature: Goblin Secrets, by William Alexander
This book may be for a younger set, but that's never turned us away from any page turner. Goblin Secrets follows a young orphan who goes in search of his lost older brother and joins a goblin theater troupe. Certainly piques our interest! But wait, throw in a steampunk setting and a Baba Yaga-like witch, and now we have an adventure story for all of us — ahem — young at heart.