One thing that I wish both of these bloggers, and Robinson in her response to questions from the earlier poster, would spend more time on is the bewildering array of things that “liberal” and “conservative” can mean. For example, I have been called conservative (and it wasn’t intended as a compliment) because I like to read dusty old books. Or another: I’ve seen Robinson called conservative simply because she’s not a moral relativist. Yet one of the things that turns me off about Edmund Burke, the founder of modern conservatism (according to some people), is that his whole “human rights is all very well in France; they’re so bloody rational over there” routine smacks, to me, of an irritating and frivolous moral relativism. Humans have rights or we don’t, dammit. (N.b.: I could be misremembering his argument. I was a much younger and in many ways angrier man when I tried to read Burke.)
Marilynne Robinson longlisted for National Book Award, again
Marilynne Robinson’s forthcoming novel Lila has been longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award for fiction. From the National Book Award press release:
Publishers submitted a total of 417 books for the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction. Five distinguished Judges were given the charge of selecting what they deem to be the best books of the year. Their decisions are made independently of the National Book Foundation staff and Board of Directors; deliberations are strictly confidential.
To be eligible for a 2014 National Book Award, a book must have been written by a US citizen and published in the United States between December 1, 2013 and November 30, 2014.
This is the third time Robinson has been a contender for the National Book Award. She was shortlisted in non-fiction in 1989 for Mother Country, and was shortlisted in fiction in 2008 for Home.
The finalists will be revealed on October 15—eight days after Lila is published.