National Book Awards 2014

Here’s a flavour of some of the the books shortlisted for the National Book Awards These awards, which started in 1950, celebrate the best of American literature, and aim to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America. They’re  given by writers to writers.

Winners receive $10,000, and they will be announced on 19th November. Favourites are Marilynne Robinson and Anthony Doerr


Anthony Doerr All the Light we cannot see – Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret. Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father’s life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering. At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in.

Marilynne Robinson – Lila – Revisiting the beloved characters and setting of Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘Gilead’ and Orange Prize-winning ‘Home’, ‘Lila’ is a moving expression of the mysteries of existence

Phil Klay – Redeployment – This novel is about the human cost of war by former marine captain and Iraq veteran, Phil Klay. Redeployment takes readers to the front lines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos

Emily St. John Mandel – Station Eleven Moving backwards and forwards in time, from the glittering years just before the collapse to the strange and altered world that exists 20 years after, ‘Station Eleven’ charts the unexpected twists of fate that connect six people: famous actor Arthur Leander; Jeevan – warned about the flu just in time; Arthur’s first wife Miranda; Arthur’s oldest friend Clark; Kirsten, a young actress with the Travelling Symphony; and the mysterious and self-proclaimed ‘prophet’

Non fiction

Evan Osnos – Age of ambition: chasing fortune, truth, and faith in the new China – As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic and cultural upheaval. In this text, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country – the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party’s struggle to retain control

John Lahr – Tennessee Williams: mad pilgrimage of the flesh