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Laura Miller Calls National Book Awards ‘Irrelevant’

The National Book Award finalists were unveiled yesterday and many readers instantly started drawing lists of influential authors who didn’t make the list. Over at Salon, Laura Miller took the most dramatic stance in her essay “How the National Book Awards made themselves irrelevant.”

She cited four popular novels that the judges passed over: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and The Submission by Amy Waldman.

Here’s more from the essay: “the National Book Award in fiction, more than any other American literary prize, illustrates the ever-broadening cultural gap between the literary community and the reading public. The former believes that everyone reads as much as they do and that they still have the authority to shape readers’ tastes, while the latter increasingly suspects that it’s being served the literary equivalent of spinach. Like the Newbery Medal for children’s literature, awarded by librarians, the NBA has come to indicate a book that somebody else thinks you ought to read, whether you like it or not.”

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