Last month, WVFC hailed the unprecedented thirteen women nominated for the 2010 National Book Award. We congratulate all the winners, but raise our glass to these three–all of them fearless, WVFC-worthy women who weren’t born yesterday. You may want to note their books for your holiday shopping lists.

Photo: Brian Widdis for the Wall Street Journal

Fiction: Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule

Gordon is the author of three previous novels, Shamp of the City-Solo, She Drove Without Stopping, and most lately Bogeywoman, which was on the Los Angeles Times‘ list of Best Fiction of 2000. Gordon has been a Fellow of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the Bunting (now Radcliffe) Institute at Harvard. In 1991 she received an Academy-Institute Award for her fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Born in Baltimore, she now lives in Kalamazoo, and teaches at Western Michigan University and in the Prague Summer Program for Writers.

Photo: Jen Fariello

Young People’s Literature: Kathryn Erskine, Mockingbird

Erskine was a lawyer for fifteen years before turning to her first love: writing. Her debut novel, Quaking, was one of YALSA’s Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. (See trailer below for Quaking.) In April, Erskine told Publisher’s Weekly that her award-winning second book was based on two life-changing events in 2007:  the Virginia Tech shootings and her daughter’s diagnosis with Asperger’s syndrome.  Erskine lives in Virginia with her husband, two children, and dog Maxine.

Nonfiction: Patti Smith,  Just Kids

For those of us who feel that we grew up with Patti Smith’s poetry and music as  avatars, it’s been a treat to witness her coming-out as a memoirist, whether in interviews or the book itself. The award notices sums up why:

“In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work—from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.”

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