on anticipation (v)

The books I’m reading over the weekend, all on the NBA shortlists, range from a collection of short stories set in Florida to a novella about a single mom who recently has moved to a quiet village in northern Norway.

Over the next week, I’ll be finishing two of the National Book Award shortlists: Fiction and Translated Literature. I spent last week making my way through almost half of the titles on each list, and since the books I still have to read are all fairly short, I’m hoping to finish both shortlists by next Friday!

I’ll first focus on finishing the remaining titles on the shortlist for the NBA in Translated Literature: Domenico Starnone’s Trick, Hanne Ørstavik’s Love, and Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights. Interestingly, two of the three books were first published over a decade ago; Love was released in Norwegian in 1997, Flights in Polish in 2007. Only Trick was published within the last few years—2016, in Italian—and I’m looking forward to seeing whether or not it feels more recent than the other two.

The books all seem promising. Trick follows a grandfather as he tries to take care of his grandson for four days, all while finishing an important illustration project, and Love tracks the lonesome paths a single mother and her young son take over the course of a single winter’s night in northern Norway. Flights, by contrast, “interweaves reflections on travel with an in-depth exploration of the human body, broaching life, death, motion, and migration.” Since the book was written during such a different global political climate, the author’s take on travel and migration should be fascinating to read today.

I’ll then take on the titles I have left on the shortlist for the NBA in Fiction: Jamel Brinkley’s A Lucky Man, Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend, and Lauren Groff’s Florida. I’ve been looking to read more short story collections, so I’m excited that there are two on the shortlist, A Lucky Man and Florida. The first consists of stories about “the tenderness and vulnerability of black men and boys whose hopes sometimes betray them,” the second stories that explore how Florida is “an energy, a mood, as much as a place of residence.”

The Friend, by contrast, is a story about a woman who “unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor” and “finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind.” The premise doesn’t appeal much to me, since I’m not a huge fan of animal stories, but the novel should make for a nice change of pace between the two collections.

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