by Cindy Jones
The Pulitzer Prize board declined to award a prize in fiction this year, another hit in an otherwise difficult year for the novel. And since the Pulitzer Prize people are supposedly a friend of books, their failure to recognize a winning novel is especially troubling.
The good news is that I have picked up the slack. Rather than go through an entire year disparaging the lack of a winning novel and forgoing the attendant celebration, I’ve done the heavy lifting and hereby announce my list of prize-winning books. (The lucky winners will receive a link to my website and a self-guided tour of my personal blog, First Draft).
But first, my rules for choosing winners. I must have read the book recently (since my last book-review blog post) and be able to articulate each book’s particular brilliance. For guidance, I rely on the wise words of literary scholar, Lord David Cecil:
“…[the literary critics’] aim should be to interpret the work they are writing about and to help readers appreciate it, by defining and analyzing those qualities that make it precious and by indicating the angle of vision from which its beauties are visible.”
(Did you get that, Pulitzer Prize board?)
Without further ado, I present the most recent Cindy Jones Prizes for fiction:
Jane Austen Award goes to the late Elizabeth Taylor (the British writer, not the actress) for her body of work, reissued in this centennial year of her birth. One critic nailed her last novel, Blaming, (my favorite, so far), saying, the style is economical and elegant as well as horridly funny. Her sharp pen occasionally jabs me in the manner of Jane Austen.
Peter Cameron Writer Crush Award goes to… Peter Cameron for his slim new release, Coral Glynn. Mid-century period novel combines elegant prose with a story whose events turn pages for you. It is possible to dream about being at Manderley again.
You Had Me At Page One Award goes to The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly, a novel that could get by on structure alone—mysterious promises begin unfolding slowly and skillfully on page one—yet delivers on story as well. The structure reminded me of Little Bee by Chris Cleve.
Best Metaphor Award goes to Aimee Bender for The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake in which the brother’s metamorphosis into furniture is a surprising and effective vehicle for conveying poignant loss.
Hangover Award goes to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I read so far past my bedtime I had a reading hangover the next day.
No Brainer Award: The Marriage Plot by Geoffrey Eugenides delivers a complex novel with fresh themes and rich observations that challenge my status quo. What is there to think about?
Who Knew? Award generated a tie:
- The Long and Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott. A romance by the author of Little Women. Really.
- 11/23/63 by Stephen King. My first Stephen King novel and I loved it!
You, too, can announce your prize winning books by visiting me in the comment section below. I'd love to celebrate your winners and add them to my TBR list.
Cindy Jones is the author of My Jane Austen Summer.