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Picking a Novel

Please vote for the book you want to read at the end of the semester.

We will vote twice–after the first round we will eliminate four books, and then have a second and final vote between the three finalists.

I haven’t read any of these, but all but one are by relatively well-known authors. All the novels have won a major literary award (National Book Critics Circle Awards, Pulitzer Prize, or National Book Award). The page numbers might be inaccurate (they may be for the hardcover, which is longer than paperback). I’ve given a brief plot summary from wikipedia, but you might want to look further. They are presented in alphabetical order. Here are the descriptions:

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz (2007), 352 pages: “The book chronicles both the life of Oscar de Leon, an overweight Dominican boy growing up in Paterson, New Jersey who is obsessed with science fiction and fantasy novels and with falling in love, as well as the curse that has plagued his family for generations.” [from wikipedia]

The Cat’s Table, Michael Ondaatje (2011), 288 pages: “Three Ceylonese schoolboys on a sea journey to England take delight in their eccentric companions at the ship’s worst dining table.” [from NY Times review]

Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004), 256 pages: “The novel is the fictional autobiography of the Reverend John Ames, an elderly congregationalist pastor in the small, secluded town of Gilead, Iowa who knows that he is dying of a heart condition.” [from wikipedia]

Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann (2009), 368 pages: “The plot of the book revolves around two central events. The first . . . is the sensational real-life feat of the Twin Towers tightrope walk of Philippe Petit 110 stories up, performed in 1974. . . . The second . . . is the fictional courtroom trial of a New York City prostitute.” [from wikipedia]

The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides (2011), 416 pages: “The story concerns three college friends from Brown University—Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell—beginning in their senior year, 1982, and follows them during their first year post-graduation.” [from wikipedia]

The Tiger’s Wife, Téa Obreht (2011), 337 pages: “The Tiger’s Wife is set in an unnamed Balkan country, in the present and half a century ago, and features a young doctor’s relationship with her grandfather and the stories he tells her, primarily about the ‘deathless man’ who meets him several times in different places and never changes, and a deaf-mute girl from his childhood village who befriends a tiger that has escaped from a zoo.” [from wikipedia]

Tinkers, Paul Harding (2009), 191 pages: “The novel tells the tale of George Washington Crosby, a clock repairman, who, on his deathbed, recounts his life story and his father’s struggles with epilepsy to his family.” [from wikipedia]


Posted in Prof Ferguson.

4 Responses

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  1. APMimz says

    Voted! It seems interesting, I had a hard time choosing between two, can I vote twice? x_x
    The Tiger’s Wife, Téa Obreht (2011) also seems wonderful, if available to vote twice, that would be my second choice :D

  2. P O says

    Soo many great choices! It’s funny because I was going to recommend The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, The Elegance of the Hedgehog and Let the Great World Spin, but now I’m debating between just about all the others!

  3. mikadroz says

    I picked Gilead– I read it once before and really enjoyed it. Looking forward to whatever we end up with!

  4. eldisakaeko88 says

    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz because I think we can relate to this story. Its about a New Jersey boy and how love is a family curse, I find it intresting so thats my vote.

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