Big news:  This year the National Book Award nominees include thirteen women, more than in any previous year.  Among those nominated are:

Nicole Krauss for Great House

Karen Tei Yamashita for I Hotel Jaimy Gordon for Lord of Misrule Lionel Shriver for So Much for That Maybe it had something to do with the fact that three of the five judges (Carolyn See, left, Sabina Murray, and Joanna Scott, right), were women, and everything to do with the excellent writing that these women produce.  Previous work by Krauss and Shriver has been bold and brave. Critics have praised the work of Yamashita and Gordon as well.

Barbara Demick’s book on North Korea, Nothing to Envy, was nominated in the nonfiction category, as was Megan K. Stack for Every Man in This Village Is a Liar, which explores war in the Muslim world, and Patti Smith’s edgy memoir Just Kids. (Demick at left, Smith at right.)

Three of the five judges on the nonfiction jury were women as well:  Marjorie Garber, Sallie Tisdale, and Jennifer Michael Hecht.

Three nominees for poetry are women:  Kathleen Graber (left), Monica Youn, and C.D. Wright (right). I n the category of Young People’s Literature, three nominess were women: Rita Williams-Garcia (left) for One Crazy Summer, Laura McNeal for Dark Water, and Kathryn Erskine for Mockingbird.  In this category as well, several judges were women.

In a year that witnessed much sturm und drang about the number and quality of reviews of books by women, as compared to men–see Katha Pollitt’s excellent exploration of the question in The Nation, in which she opines that, “’Girl genius’ is not a phrase in our language”–the excellent nominees for the 2010 National Book Awards are a giant step in the right direction. In the coming weeks, WVFC will be taking a closer look at some of the women nominees over 40–and we may even do a little handicapping as the awards date approaches.

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  • b.elliott October 16, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Great post! Can’t wait to learn about these fascinating nominees!