LOS ANGELES – The awards for best reads of 2016 were awarded last night by the Academy of Reading Arts and Sciences during a live telecast from Dorothy Chandler pavilion in Los Angeles.
As usual, this year’s ceremony brought out the usual mix of gowns and glamour as the world’s literati arrived to recognize the achievement of the books that most moved, enthralled, and entertained over the past year. Thomas Otto, president of the Academy noted how many of this year’s contenders were actually published in the past five years. “This truly is unpresidented [sic] in the history of the Hoggies.”
The normally joyous occasion was thrown into controversy early in the evening when Sinclair Lewis came back from the dead to excoriate the mostly American audience for what he sees as rank stupidity over not having learned the lessons of literature and history. Lewis, whose seminal novel Main Street was re-read by the Academy in 2016, showed in a two-hour slide presentation a sample of the thousands of novels that he claims could have kept the electoral nightmare from playing out in the US this year. Lewis said “If only more people picked up a darn novel from time to time.” Lewis finished his remarks by chiding the audience: “The boys in the Zenith Rotary or down at the BPOE* lodge may think there’s some sort of strength in stupidity, jingoism, and know-nothingness, but their approval is no gauge of success.”
Among last night’s winners:
BEST NOVEL – FEMALE Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
BEST NOVEL – MALE Being Dead by Jim Crace
BEST AUDIO RECORDING Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
BEST RE-READ – FEMALE The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark
BEST RE-READ – MALE Coral Glynn by Peter Cameron
BEST IRREVERENTLY FUNNY FICTION Marry Me by Dan Rhodes
BEST THOUGHTFUL, INTERESTINGLY TOLD, SLIGHTLY ANITA BROOKNERISH NOVEL The Spare Room by Helen Garner [The funny thing is this category existed last year. The Academy was pleased it read a book in 2016 that fit the bill.]
BEST SHORT STORIES The Safety of Objects by A.M. Homes
BEST CRIME/THRILLER NOVEL The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
BEST, SLIGHTLY SAPPY, BUT TOTALLY ENJOYABLE AND UPLIFTING NOVEL – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
WORST PIECE OF PANDERING, SAPPY BULLSHIT – The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson [This could have been a tie with Rachel Joyce’s sequel to Harold Fry, but that annoyed the Academy so much it didn’t read much beyond the first chapter.]
BEST FOR MAKING SOMETHING FABULOUS BORING Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr
BEST NOVELS BY NEW-TO-THE-ACADMEY AUTHORS
Euphoria by Lily King
Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
Hotels of North America by Rick Moody
The Expatriates by Janice Y. K. Lee
At Hawthorne Time by Melissa Harrison
BEST PENELOPE – Penelope Lively for Cleopatra’s Sister [The only Penelope the Academy read in 2016.]
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS – (two awards given) Eric Ambler and Nevil Shute
[*Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America (BPOE)]
You are too funny. My favorite part is Sinclair Lewis coming back from the dead. (Main Street was one of my favorite reads last year.)
Sorry I missed the live ceremony! It is reeaally hard to get tickets! But thanks for the recap. It was hilarious.
I must’ve missed the raffle for tickets! I’m sure it was standing room only, nonetheless. The upside has to be that at least I didn’t have to buy a dress for the ceremony.
Love this annual recap – may it have long life! My favorite category, and one in which I heartily concur is Best, slightly sappy, but totally enjoyable and uplifting novel.
Happy reading to you in 2017.
I want a recount! Euphoria shoulda won! (Great post.)
Sorry I missed what sounds like a great evening, but if Lewis didn’t reference his most prescient novel, IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE, he should have.
Long live the Hoggies! Very clever and fun recap of your 2016 reads. Loved it!