The National Book Awards are announced tonight, and I am crossing my fingers that M.T. Anderson wins for his stunning historical novel The Astonishing Adventures of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume OneI: The Pox Party. It’s an amazing book about slavery in the time of the American Revolution–heart-wrenching, poetic, beautiful, ghastly all at once.
Anderson shows such control and craftsmanship over his material, working in all sorts of historical details but never at the expense of character, and never in that way historical writers so often do where the research shows through the fiction. It is seamless, and it will break your heart.
I can’t think of another writer with the range Anderson has. He was nominated previously for the NBA for his futuristic YA novel Feed, which has one of the all-time best first lines and a theme that is becoming ever more frighteningly real. He’s also the author of the hilarious Whales on Stilts, a satire on series fiction for kids, and a picture book biography, Handel, Who Knew What He Liked. And that’s just some of his published work!
I fully expect him to eventually win the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his body of work, but for now, I will be delighted if he comes away tonight with a National Book Award!
Edited to add: Hooray! Hooray!