The big day finally arrived. The National Book Award finalists were announced at noon sharp and within 15 minutes I was driving around on my annual egg hunt to get my hands on as many of the five fiction nominees as I could. Unfortunately, I was able to locate only two of the books within a 50-mile radius of my home in South Florida, which speaks volumes -- no pun intended -- about the level of obscurity we're dealing with this year. I had never heard of any of the authors and, normally, I have no problem finding all five books the day they're announced. Not this time. I had to go online and order the other three.
Now comes the fun part: reading them. The goal is to have all five finished before the winner is announced Nov. 17. That comes to about a book every six days between now and then. At the end, I'll pass along my prediction on which one I think will win. My handicapping has been pretty decent. I've nailed three of the past four winners.