BOOKSHAKALAKA: The National Book Awards Jam Throws Down for 2010
An unlikely ballroom of people in the troubled business of literature -- publishers, editors, writers, reporters, and respective sycophants -- gather yearly to ostensibly celebrate writing. But really? To get trashed and dance. For books. Last night on Wall Street, the 2010 National Book Awards went down like this.
The 2010 National Book Awards at the Cipriani Wall Street ballroom. All the people who were at these tables are still hungover.
Looking out from a cocktail table off to the side of the Cipriani Ballroom with a bunch of other reporters lunging for the bar every few minutes, it hits you: It's never not strange that the biggest book party in America every year is on Wall Street.
Not some tweed-lined penthouse apartment on the Upper West Side, or some South Brooklyn concert venue a stone's throw from where too many New York writers live, or even some hotel event space in Midtown, where many of the biggest publishers in the country are headquartered. But on Wall Street. And not just Wall Street, but in the Cipriani Ballroom, which is about as humble a space as Barnes & Noble is a bookstore.
Yet, there it is: a room full of "evening wear"-wearing publishing people at candlelit tables with their prized pet pen-jockeys, at what may be the highest M.F.A.-to-M.A. ratio in the country every year, on Wall Street no less, sponsored by Barnes & Noble, of course.
And like every year, these people generally aren't celebrating the books that sell even remotely well. Chances are that all 20 of the NBA-nominated books for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young-adult fiction combined will sell less than Justin Bieber's memoirs.