Friday, October 14, 2011

National Book Award Finalist

That one, my friends, deserves all capital letters.

The little-book-that-could has been nominated as a finalist for the National Book Award. I never thought this would happen. I actually thought that I'd spend the rest of my writing days sending my book-children out into the world to be admired by a few, scorned by a dozen, and muttering to myself in this Blogger corner.

Whenever I speak to audiences about my fiction, inevitably I'm asked about rejection. How many times did you face rejection, they ask. And I tell them: many times. My first novel was dead in the water for 3 years, three years of submission and rejection, and I had exactly one story published during that time. I was working at the University of New Orleans during the years following Hurricane Katrina. Driving through New Orleans East for work, through that wasted landscape, the houses rotting and spray-painted, the empty streets, the waste from the flood still sitting where the water deposited it when it receded subdued me so thoroughly I didn't write a new sentence for 3 years. Fine, I thought, I'll shut up now. I told despair: You win. I began looking up the pre-requisite courses I'd need to enter a nursing program, began plotting my return to school, my leave from writing.

And then Doug Siebold of Agate Publishing said yes to Where the Line Bleeds. Two years later, my editor at Bloomsbury Publishing said yes to my second novel Salvage the Bones. And now, the folks at the National Book Foundation have said yes.

So many can tell you no, I tell my audience, but you only need one person to say yes.

Say yes: read Salvage the Bones.


29 comments:

Angela said...

I just finished reading Salvage the Bones last night. It is a beautiful, beautiful book. Congratulations. Nurses are great, but I'm glad you continued writing.

JCF said...

I don't Google people I know (and *like*) . . . but I do Google "celebrities", so look whose blog I (finally) discovered? ;-)

Big Time KUDOS & CONGRATS, Jesmyn! I'm on a *wait-list*, I'll have you know, at the Sacramento Library (but do tell me when you next swing out Califor-ni-ay way for a book signing, etc, and I will dig into my meager funds to purchase a copy!)

Seriously Jes, all deserved best wishes on your accomplishment. Your friends at the T-Wall bask in your reflected glory!

"Knew Ya When" ;-)

JCF/AlciBIades. Warm memories of a cold Michigan night...

Boux said...

you've written a beautiful book, madam. congrats on the short-listing, it was very well deserved. good luck with everything!

Anonymous said...

Congrats! Amazing book. I heard about it from my friends at Turnrow books and loved every min of the reading experience. Good Luck with the National Book Award! http://www.turnrowbooks.typepad.com/

Amy said...

I heard you interviewed and then heard you read an excerpt on The Writer's Block podcast and I was so excited to jump on the B&N website to order the book, but then I was also a little disappointed that there was no audio version available. I am a "real book" person, I don't automatically go for the audio versions, but this time I wanted both! Your voice reading your work the way that you meant it to sound was wonderful. I guess at least now I can imagine you reading it to me! Best of luck on the award!

Tulasi-Priya said...

Congratulations, Ms. West! Your acceptance speech was lovely. Looking forward to reading your work.

Tulasi-Priya said...

Sorry, I misspelled your name, Ms. WARD. I'm up way past my bedtime!

JCF said...

WINNER!!!!

Congratulations, Jesmyn! :-D

We're so proud of you!

R Prevost said...

Congratulations on your recognition! You've joined a very prestigious group.

c.a. head said...

Congratulations on your NBA award. Your persistence (and faith in self) has paid off. So proud of and happy for You.

cheryl

Harriet Riley said...

Congratulations on winning the National Book Award! I'm a writer and reader from Mississippi and I am proud of your success! I'm rushing out to my independent bookseller today to buy Salvage the Bones.

evelyn.n.alfred said...

Congrats on winning.

soudabe said...

Congratulations.

soudabe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

There beneath all of that stuff, lied a diamond in the rough.


Glad I found you : )
DC

Shaju Joseph said...

Congratulations on the NBA award!

Marnel Nichole said...

This is wonderful! Your book will go on my reading list. Congratulations.

Persephone said...

I finished Salvage the Bones the other night and was just blown away by it. What a beautiful book. I new it was going to be a magical experience when I came across your description of the black spots on the puppys belly like scattered watermelon seeds. Thank you so much for such an incredible experience, and congratulations on a much deserved award.

Anonymous said...

Congratulation.

Snacks from the cruise buffet said...

You don't know me, I don't know you, but because I can leave a comment on your blog, I just want to say congratulations on winning the NBA!

steveburks said...

This. Right here. "I actually thought that I'd spend the rest of my writing days sending my book-children out into the world to be admired by a few, scorned by a dozen, and muttering to myself in this Blogger corner."

That possibility wasn't enough to stop you from writing, which says a lot. I'm not sure if I love writing enough for its own sake, to take a similar risk. So maybe I should stop. I just read Michael Caine's words about acting: "If you can imagine yourself doing anything else, forget it!" Time to soul-search.

Congratulations.

Terri said...

Congratulations on your recent success. Just ordered the book and I am anxiously awaiting its arrival.

The Schlich Family said...

Just read StB, and you can't possibly be as shallow as your blog makes you out to be...

Jamie said...

@The Schlich Family. Your jealousy of a talented writer is ugly. You should keep it off the internet.

The Schlich Family said...

Sorry, didn't post that, must have forgotten to sign out and someone else posted! Please excuse...

Anonymous said...

As an old nurse, and an avid reader, I say, thank god you stayed with writing! I've never read a better book than Salvage the Bones. You have a unique writing style that is completely awe-inspiring (and you don't write trite phrases like that either!) A talent like yours deserves every award going. Please keep writing. And congrats on a GREAT book. I doubt if I will ever forget Esch and her family.
Sally McDonald

Bruce said...

Thanks for Salvage the Bones. It felt like truth, much more than any news reports at the time.

Vicki said...

I recently listened to Salvage. Haunting, significant, wonderful. Thank you.

Mary Drumeller said...

Dear Jesmyn, I want to thank you for writing the amazing "Salvage the Bones." I became absorbed in the world of Eshe and her family and missed them when the book ended. Soon after, I wrote a song and called it "A Guy Like That," and didn't realize until about a week later that your book, and especially Eshe, had inspired it. I entered the song in a contest at Rapunzel's Coffee and Books in Lovingston, VA and was selected as a finalist. (I didn't win, but enjoyed sharing it.) Thought you might like to know. Keep writing!
With a smile
~mary Binda
upforjoy@gmail.com