Friday, September 30, 2016


Every year the National Book Foundation announces nominees for best fiction and non-fiction. The Foundation, founded in 1950, proclaims its mission is “to celebrate the best in American literature, to expand its audience and to enhance the cultural value of great writing.” The National Book Awards promotes enthusiastic reading, just as the Monrovia Public Library reaches out to enthusiastic readers. Find the following 3 novels, nominated in the 2016 best fiction category, at the Monrovia Library.

Jacqueline Woodson won the 2014 National Book Award for Children with her youth novel Brown Girl Dreaming and her new title Another Brooklyn is an adult nominee this year. When August runs into an old friend she is sent into a reverie from her past, all about growing up in Brooklyn when friendships, family and dreams of bright futures meant everything. This lovely coming-of-age story captures both the sweet and the difficult parts of being a young girl of color making the transition into adulthood. Woodson is a wonderful writer whose spare and lyrical phrasing pulls in readers. And, if you are so inclined, re-read Betty Smith’s classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, an earlier story of growing up.

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie is a comic satire with idiosyncratic characters. In this quirky novel set in Palo Alto, the title character is named after the economist Thorstein Veblen and her upcoming marriage is beset by issues of modern romance, dysfunctional families and money. By the way, a squirrel plays a key role in this laugh-out-loud novel.

Written from varying points of view, Imagine Me Gone is the story of a family afflicted with and affected by mental illness. Author Adam Haslett captures the drama, chaos, frustration, tragedy and awful humor of how family members interact in the orbit of mental instability. This novel was a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

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