Bonnie Jo Campbell, National Book Award finalist in fiction | Bleader

Bonnie Jo Campbell, National Book Award finalist in fiction


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Kalamazoo-based writer Bonnie Jo Campbell, subject of a Reader profile back in 2000, has been nominated for a National Book Award for her story collection American Salvage, published by little ol' Wayne State University Press. (Her fellow fiction nominees are published by Random House, Norton, Knopf, and Farrar Straus & Giroux.)

When Campbell gave a reading here in May, I wrote in a Critic's Choice:

"Her new short-story collection, American Salvage, is filled with characters who could only dream of a life as wide-ranging as her own. In rural Michigan, where most of the 14 stories are set, families settle feuds with guns, and faith in Jesus is the ultimate Y2K survival tool. Dope and 40-ouncers are shared along with tales of missing fathers, and 'tipping the bartender and being polite and paying child support' holds lives and communities together. In one gut punch of a story, a man considers ways to deal with his drug addict wife: 'Solution #2: Wait until Connie comes back from the "store," distract her with the baby, and then cut her meth with Drano, so that when she shoots it up, she dies.' Yet Campbell renders her characters with great compassion, not pity."

The other fiction nominees:

Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin (Random House)
Daniyal Mueenuddin, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders (W.W. Norton & Co.)
Jayne Anne Phillips, Lark and Termite (Alfred A. Knopf)
Marcel Theroux, Far North (Farrar Straus & Giroux)

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