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English professor is National Book Award finalist

Oct. 25, 2010

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's Jaimy Gordon has been named a finalist for the nation's premier literary accolade, the National Book Award.

Photo of Jaimy Gordon, WMU.Gordon, professor of English, was among five writers whose works are being considered for the annual award in the fiction category. She was nominated for her novel "Lord of Misrule," to be published Nov. 14 by McPherson and Co. The National Book Foundation, which sponsors the awards, calls the book "a darkly realistic novel about a young woman living through a year of horse racing while everyone's best laid plans go brutally wrong."

The names of finalists were announced in Georgia Oct. 13 at the childhood home of American author Flannery O'Connor. The winners in each category will be announced Nov. 17 at the 61st National Book Awards Benefit Dinner and Ceremony in New York City.

This is the second time in as many years an author with WMU connections has been among the National Book Award finalists. Kalamazoo native Bonnie Jo Campbell, who earned three degrees from WMU in math and one in creative writing, was named a finalist last fall for her book of short stories, "American Salvage."

Gordon, a Baltimore native, earned degrees from Antioch College and Brown University and has taught at WMU since 1981. In addition to "Lord of Misrule," she has published three other novels--"Bogeywoman," "Shamp of the City-Solo" and "She Drove Without Stopping." The latter, often described as a woman's road novel, was an American Library Association Notable Book for 1990; in 1991, Gordon won an Academy-Institute Award for her fiction from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. "Bogeywoman" made the Los Angeles Times list of the Best Fiction of 2000.

Gordon also has published a novella, poetry, masques, short stories and essays. She has won a number of other awards for her work. They include grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and being named a fellow at both the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College. Her short story about horseracing, "A Night's Work," was chosen for "Best American Short Stories" in 1995.

Established in 1950 by publishers, editors, writers and critics, the National Book Awards were conceived as an award given to writers by writers. The American Book Publisher's Council, the Book Manufacturers' Institute, and the American Booksellers' Association jointly sponsored the Awards, bringing together the American literary community to honor the year's best work in fiction, nonfiction and poetry. The awards quickly established a reputation for recognizing literary excellence. Within its first decade the NBA acknowledged the work of writers such as William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, Wallace Stevens, Rachel Carson, Ralph Ellison, W.H. Auden, Marianne Moore and Bernard Malamud--authors who have helped shape the foundation of American literature.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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