Archive for the ‘National Book Award Winner’ Category


This bighearted, voluptuous, riveting book – one of my favorites of the decade – is filled with contradictions. It tells an apocalyptic and ancient tale but its topic is fresh and timely. It is told without any pretensions yet it’s lyrical and bracing. It focuses on the microcosm of a family under pressure yet its theme is universal and its messages integrate age-old mythologies.

February 8, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, Literary, National Book Award Winner, Reading Guide, US South, y Award Winning Author

JUST KIDS by Patti Smith

There are a handful of writers who haunt me. That is, as I’m reading their books they come to me in my dreams, usually with sharp elbows and voices clamoring for attention. Cormac McCarthy effects me this way. So does, not surprisingly perhaps, Friedrich Nietzsche. No writers whisper to me in my dreams. It was the second night of reading Just Kids that I discovered here too a voice so strong and compelling so as to ring in my ears after the book is closed, the eyes shut and the brain turned off. Like caffeine, if consumed after a certain late hour, you know you’re in for a ride. Patti Smith is an original. She is a poet with the heart of a rock star and the drive of an Olympic athlete. She comes at you hard and fast and won’t let go, even in a dream state. She is that mesmerizingly good.

January 3, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Coming-of-Age, National Book Award Winner, New York City, Non-fiction, y Award Winning Author

LORD OF MISRULE by Jaimy Gordon

Most of us, when we think of horse racing, conjure up a mint-juleps-and-roses vision of the Kentucky Derby or perhaps, Churchill Downs, attended by jewel-studded rich folk dressed up in their finery with cash to burn.

But at the rock-bottom end of the sport, horse racing is a whole other world – a world inhabited by down-on-their-luck trainers and jockeys, loan sharks and crooks, gyps and hotwalkers. This is the world Jaimy Gordon takes on – Indian Mound Downs, where the horses are mostly aging, drugged, or lame and the trainers are as crooked and cynical as they come.

December 2, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Contemporary, Literary, National Book Award Winner, US South, y Award Winning Author

GREAT HOUSE by Nicole Krauss

An imposing wooden desk with nineteen drawers floats through this book like a buoy, and sometimes with shackles, loosely uniting four disparate but interconnected narrative threads. The desk is largely a monument to Jewish survival, loss, and recovery, and mirrors the dissolution, pain, and dire hope of each character. Additionally, it is a covetous object, given a poignant and existential significance by the chorus of voices that are bound to it by their memories.

October 6, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Facing History, Literary, National Book Award Winner, Theme driven, Unique Narrative

SHADOW COUNTRY by Peter Matthiessen

I’ve been concerned about reviewing SHADOW COUNTRY from the get go. For starters, it is big at eight hundred and ninety-two pages. And there is the subject matter: Nothing less than a reckoning of the “last American frontier,” the turn of the century coast of southwest Florida, the Ten Thousand Islands, as reflected through the experience of a single, highly complex, enigmatic figure, Edgar J. Watson.

July 20, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Florida, National Book Award Winner, Wild West, y Award Winning Author


Just when you thought he couldn’t get any better, he does. Column McCann’s latest novel, LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN, is a masterpiece of seemingly disparate stories set together into one beautiful whole. The action takes place in the New York of the ‘70s specifically on one day in 1974 when Philippe Petit made his tightrope walk across the Twin Towers. Even if this is supposed to be a “New York story,” this is not a sprawling saga with detailed descriptions of time and place. Instead McCann makes the city come alive through the voices of a variety of beautifully painted characters whom he breathes into life in the novel.

July 15, 2009 · Judi Clark · 3 Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2009 Favorites, Facing History, Literary, National Book Award Winner, New York City, y Award Winning Author