out awards is not as easy as I once thought!
you know how many books one must read to find a single award-winner?
Particularly an award-winner that fits within my guidelines
of books that show excellence in use of the English language,
present themes or premises that might help even one reader
recognize and curtail bigotry and/or explore the human condition.
Never mind. Don't try to answer the question. Try not to even
think about it!
read a lot but I also like to have time to write and to promote.
I have more sympathy for those who give out awards since I
started this column four years ago. You know that old saying
about walking in some other guy's shoes? That process of slopping
around in shoes bigger than your feet is a humbling one.
I set up this award in a bit of a pique because Oprah had
abandoned her calling to find fine literary books by unlauded
authors and had resorted to a faded reprint of choices made
by Publisher’s Weekly and the New York
Times Bestseller List. It seemed the real Nobel Prize
had been making choices that neglected Americans and women
(see past Januarys' “Back to Literature” columns
in the MyShelf archives for more on these subjects). All the
while, I was in the throes of trying to get This
is the Place
reviewed and had a taste of how hard it is for fiction
writers to get any recognition, let alone any respect. I was
sure I would be able to find at least a dozen fantastic books
and I did--primarily because I had years of reading to draw
Oprah gave up on modern authors all together in favor of the
classics. Now she--apparently--is back to considering living
authors' works. That means the need for my little "Noble"
is not as great. Still, there are so many good books and so
little recognition going around. There is also so little time!
of you who follow this column know that I asked my daughter-in-law
to help me last year. She is a good judge of literary work,
has a law degree from Stamford, and her input adds an extra
dimension to my picks for she tells me she chooses books not
from the bestseller lists but from reviews--even reviews in
obscure journals. I, of course, glean mine from the books
written by my UCLA students, books my editors assign me to
review, and even a few that I pick up in second-hand book
here are my choices for “Carolyn’s Noble Prize
for Literature. That’s “Noble,” not “Nobel,”
though at least one of these should have been considered for
the Nobel but wasn’t. These are books that I believe
deserve your consideration. You might consider two heads better
than one, even accept Leigh and me as your Noble committee
for Reading in 2006
These are numbered for ease of
reading but are in no particular order.