Welcome to the first contest on the KevinfromCanada book blog — I hope to hold them periodically. Since Canadians love to comment (usually critically) on things American, it is entirely appropriate that the first contest is centred on a U.S.-based award.
The National Book Critics Circle shortlist for fiction (and a number of other categories) will be announced in New York at 7 p.m. EDT, January 24. The challenge is to submit your entry on what books will be the five finalists in the fiction category. The winner is announced March 12. Since Trevor Berrett at The Mookse and The Gripes already has the system set up for prize discussion groups (the National Books Award discussion is still posted), I am assuming he will be hosting one for the NBCC awards — he is U.S.-based, after all, so it is his right and it is also true of Canadians that, while we like to comment on things American, we prefer it if they do the heavy lifting.
The NBCC fiction award is certainly the widest reaching in the U.S. — and arguably for all English language fiction. The criteria for entry: “Books published in English (including translations) in the United States with pub dates within 2008 will be considered.” Since amazon.com in the U.S. is pretty good at listing publication dates, it isn’t that hard to determine entry eligibility.
The NBCC also has the most wide-open shortlist procedure that I know. Publishers make submissions and the jury can call in titles (which is normal). The NBCC membership is also polled — and as far as I can tell, if 20 per cent name a book, it automatically goes on the shortlist.
The result is a prize which produces a wideranging shortlist of titles, perhaps with somewhat of a literary slant. Last year’s shortlist (just by title) was Sacred Games, The Brief Wonderous Life Of Oscar Wao, In The Country of Men, The Gravedigger’s Daughter and The Shadow Catcher — I’d say that is proof enough that national chauvinism is not at play here. The NBCC website is here .
First prize will be a) bragging rights and b) a $50 Cdn. gift certificate at whatever online site you use that will let me but it from Canada (Amazon does that at all their national sites). In the event of a two-way tie, the prize will be split. In the true schoolyard tradition, the three-tie, all-tie rule will be imposed and no financial prize will be issued if more than two entries tie.
I have every intention of entering my own contest and have let Trevor know my entry (he doesn’t even know about the work I am creating for him) so you know I have not cheated. Everyone else’s entry can be submitted through the comments section at the bottom of this post. My entry will be posted at the close of the contest deadline which is midnight, Jan. 23 GMT. Both entries and comments are welcomed immediately — if you only have three or four books that you know, there is no requirement that your entry have five books. Good luck to one and all.