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What To Do With A National Book Award?

by A.L. Major

In November, I watched the National Book Awards ceremony via an online broadcast. A U of Michigan alum of 05′, Jesmyn Ward, was nominated for her novel Salvage The Bones , and if she won, I wanted to witness it. Of course, my impulse to watch the awards was a self-involved, highly illogical one: that if I am a U of Michigan MFA Fiction student and she is an alum of this same program, then I might be able to produce a work of similar notability and talent. When she won, I was surprisingly elated. As if I had won too. I bought her books, the hour after, not yet critical of why it hadn’t occurred to me to buy them before. Later, I realized I’ve become a complacent reader.

MQR contributor Jaimy Gordon wins National Book Award

Jaimy Gordon, who to her surprise just won the National Book Award for her novel Lord of Misrule, called me up the week before the award ceremony, when she was still just a nominee. She’s published a couple pieces in MQR, so I was happy to hear from her—and pleased to discover the reason for her call.