By JULIE BOSMAN
Julie Otsuka is the winner of the 2012 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for her novel “The Buddha in the Attic” (Alfred A. Knopf), the directors of the award announced on Monday. The book, which traces the lives of six Japanese mail-order brides who sail to San Francisco in the early 20th century, was chosen from more than 350 novels and short-story collections, all by American authors and all published in 2011.
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By Jaimy Gordon
The 2011 National Book Award winners will be announced next week on Wednesday, Nov. 16. Below, we’ve provided a score-card for your office or at-home betting pool. To get the ball rolling, novelist Jaimy Gordon, 2010 winner for Lord of Misrule, agreed to survey the fiction field for us.
The field of finalists this year is rich in dark history, full of mythy and frightening tales and exotic places. Of this marvelous group, which includes Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones, Andrew Krivak’s The Sojourner, and Tea Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife, The Tiger’s Wife is the obvious favorite, an authentically gorgeous and absorbing book that was already a best seller, with big wins on its past performance chart, even before it became a finalist for the National Book Award. But as a betting woman, of course I have a hard time putting my money on a heavy favorite, however likely a bet. There is another small jeweled volume in that group that makes America mythy and exotic by seeing it through the eyes of mail-order Japanese brides arriving in San Francisco a hundred years ago—this is Julie Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic. I’d have to ride a little money on that one. However—as those who know me know—I’ve always favored classy old horses who are still running at the age of six or seven and can go the distance. There’s only one of those in this field, Edith Pearlman, for her Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories; although, true, she’s not really a miler but a sprinter, one of the great practitioners of the short form. How can you not want to put your money on a great American writer who has been so underrated for so long?