In celebration of its sixtieth year honoring authors with the National Book Award, the National Book Foundation (NBF) has created a blog that, over the course of the next few months, will revisit all of the winning books of fiction from 1950 to 2008. The book-a-day blog commenced yesterday, with National Book Award finalist Rachel Kushner and NBF executive director Harold Augenbraum offering their words about Nelson Algren’s The Man With the Golden Arm (Doubleday). For the cross-reference-lover, each blog post also suggests links to more information on the book and author, as well as facts about each title, and names of judges and finalists, giving readers an idea of how the awards landscape looked in a given year.
Why focus only on winning fiction? The NBF, which currently grants the award in poetry, nonfiction, and young people’s literature, as well, says on its Web site that the prize in fiction has been the only category that has seen a winner every year since the National Book Awards were instituted. Also, many of the fiction winners have gone on to literary fame, and out of the seventy-seven winning titles, seventy-four are still in print—a higher percentage than in any other genre.
New posts by authors, editors, and other members of the literati will go up daily until September 21—with Peter Matthiessen’s Shadow Country (Modern Library) closing the series—when the NBF will invite readers to vote for the "Best of the National Book Awards Fiction." (Reminiscent of the Man Booker Prize's celebratory "Best of Booker" competition in 2008.) Voters will have the opportunity to win two tickets to the 2009 National Book Awards ceremony. The organization has also sent ballots to six hundred writers, asking them to select three of their favorite titles.
More about the sixtieth anniversary campaign can be found on the NBF Web site, or via the organization’s Twitter feed.