Archive for the ‘National Book Critic Circle (NBCC)’ Category

AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

AMERICANAH is a wonderful epic saga of love, hair, blogs, racism in America, and life in Nigeria. It takes place over a period of about 15 years and is primarily about a Nigerian woman named Ifemelu and her first love, Obinze. The meaning of the word Americanah is a person who returns to Nigeria after spending time abroad.

March 15, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Class - Race - Gender, National Book Critic Circle (NBCC), Theme driven, Unique Narrative, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK by Ben Fountain

Billy Lynn – the eponymous hero of this book – is a genuine American hero. He and his fellow Bravo Squad members decimated an insurgency – caught on film by an embedded Fox News crew — and became overnight sensations in a nation starved for good news about Iraq. They are brought home for a media-intensive “Victory Tour” – in cities that happen to lie in an electoral swing state — to reinvigorate support for the war. We meet them at the end of that tour, on a rainy Thanksgiving, hosted by America’s Team, The Dallas Cowboys.

February 27, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Drift-of-Life, Humorous, National Book Award Finalist, National Book Critic Circle (NBCC), Texas, Unique Narrative, United States, y Award Winning Author

RAGTIME by E. L. Doctorow

E.L. Doctorow’s 1974 masterpiece, Ragtime, takes its name from the a style of music, the melodious offspring of blackface cakewalks and patriotic marches, that perfectly captures the optimism and energy of the America in the early 1900s. It’s aptly titled too, for Doctorow manages to capture the energy of the era, a time of hitherto unheard of growth and prosperity, a time when coal miners took on the capitalists for safer work conditions and fair pay, and won; a time when a single, socially- minded photographer, documenting immigrant ghettos, took pictures powerful enough to move a president and serve as evidence of the necessity of improved housing conditions for the poor; a time when American entrepreneurs amassed more wealth than some European monarchy, through little more than hard work and talent. However, it was also the era of Jim Crow legislation and the venomous prejudice that made it impossible for a black man to materially enjoy his success, say, by driving a shiny new Model T Ford – but more on that later.

July 30, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Classic, Facing History, National Book Critic Circle (NBCC), NE & New York, New York City, y Award Winning Author

THE COUNTERLIFE by Philip Roth

Long though it is, this quotation sums up just about everything about Roth’s magnificent novel of 1976: its strange title, its grand theme, its somewhat simplistic view of history, and its humor that jumps cheerfully into offensive self-mockery. A long section of the novel takes place in Israel shortly after the Yom Kippur War, when the stereotypes were indeed being turned on their heads, and conversely significant criticism of the state was beginning to be heard from the West. But Roth’s principal subject is not the engaged Jews who assert their selfhood either through Zionism or religion, but the countless secular Jews like himself, living securely in a distant country; how do they establish their identity, especially in mid-life when the question of “Is this really all I am?” typically arises.

January 7, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Facing History, Israel, Literary, Man Booker International Prize, National Book Critic Circle (NBCC), y Award Winning Author

A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD by Jennifer Egan

In Jennifer’s Egan’s lively and inventive novel – A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD – each of its characters feels his or her mortality. Each is a in a tenuous danse-a-deux with “the goon.”

Every chapter is told from a different character’s point of view and it is no accident that the novel starts with Sasha – the assistant of music producer Bennie Salazar, one of the key focal points. Sasha has sticky fingers and is constantly pirating away meaningless objects to compose “the warped core of her life.” These objects serve as talismans, placing her at arm’s length from the love she wants.

November 3, 2010 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Contemporary, Humorous, National Book Critic Circle (NBCC), Pulitzer Prize, Reading Guide, Satire, y Award Winning Author