So here’s who didn’t show at Wednesday night’s National Book Awards dinner at Cipriani in Manhattan: Thomas Pynchon. Never mind that his Bleeding Edge was one of the finalists for fiction, the man just doesn’t do award ceremonies. Or interviews. Or much of anything, besides you know, living and writing.
James McBride (The Color of Water) took the fiction prize in an upset win for his Good Lord Bird and George Packer very deservedly won for The Unwinding (my review is here).
Here’s the full list of finalists:
- Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers
- Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland
- James McBride, The Good Lord Bird
- Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge
- George Saunders, Tenth of December
- Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin
- Wendy Lower, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields
- George Packer, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America
- Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832,
- Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief
Also at the dinner was E.L. Doctorow, who received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (nice title, that). According to the Times, Doctorow gave the evening a resolutely analog spin:
[Doctorow] cooled the mood down with a somber speech on technology, government surveillance and the Internet. (Somewhat uncomfortably, Amazon.com and Google were sponsors of the event.)
“Text is now a verb,” Mr. Doctorow said. “More radically, a search engine is not an engine. A platform is not a platform. A bookmark is not a bookmark because an e-book is not a book.”