The OF Blog: My preferences for the 2011 World Fantasy Awards for Best Novel

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My preferences for the 2011 World Fantasy Awards for Best Novel

Over the past week, I've written reviews for four of the six novels on the Best Novel ballot for the World Fantasy Awards (the other two were written last year soon after release).  Below I'll post the titles and provide links to my reviews, then I'll discuss briefly why I chose the order of preference for these novels.  Hopefully, those who disagree (or even agree) with my opinions will weigh in with their own.  It is my regret that I have not had enough time to read all of the entrants in the other categories before the awards or announced or that I lack the time (at the moment, anyway) to write reviews for them all.  Maybe another year.

Lauren Beukes, Zoo City

N.K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms 

Graham Joyce, The Silent Land 

Guy Gavriel Kay, Under Heaven
Karen Lord, Redemption in Indigo 

Nnedi Okorafor, Who Fears Death 

As a whole, this shortlist is very solid, if not uniformly spectacular.  I can understand why each of these novels will appeal to quite a few SF/F readers, yet most are not anything that I would call "consensus picks;" most contain elements that will not appeal to a sizable percentage of readers. 

For myself, the novel that struck the best balance between prose, characterization, theme, and plot was Joyce's The Silent Land, with Lord's Redemption in Indigo a close second.  These were the two novels that I enjoyed without reservations and thought were genuinely among the best SF/F that I've read over the past two years.  A slight step below them were Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and Okorafor's Who Fears Death.  I did enjoy each when I read them back in 2010 and thought each had several strong points, yet I do not find myself thinking as much about my emotional reaction to them as I do with the Joyce and Lord.  Beukes' Zoo City was promising yet ultimately frustrating to read, for reasons that I note in the review I posted earlier tonight.  Kay's Under Heaven I could easily see as appealing to the most readers and being the favorite to win the award, yet, as I noted in my review, it just did not tickle my fancy.  These things happen and that's not an indictment on the novel in particular as it is just a confession that tastes are truly a fickle matter.

What about you?  Which novels on this shortlist have you read and what are your thoughts on them?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The only two that I have read so far have been Redemption in Indigo and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. While reading them I think that I enjoyed The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms more, but I thought more about Redemption after reading it and feel it was probably the more powerful of the two. I really need to read The Silent Land and Who Fears Death, I enjoyed Okorafor's YA book Akata Witch, but the other two don't really interest me and I probably won't get to them.

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