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by Joanna Dykhuis | LIT LIFE 616.291.2851 A Dark Horse Wins the Race

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National Book Awards,” according to the author. Despite the size and lack of reputation, her publisher insisted



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that she finish the book as quickly as possible so it could be nominated for the Awards. “I thought he was completely out of his mind,” Gordon said.

“We got it in and he nominated it and when it was nominated as a finalist, [the judges] were already doing something extraordinary by noticing that kind of book from that kind of world.” Her novel , Lord of

Misrule, is about a dinky, rundown racetrack and it was competing against a novel about the American health care system. “I universally acknowl-

edge to be the darkest dark horse in that race,” Gordon said.

Lord of Misrule follows

JAIMY GORDON Schuler Books and Music, 28th Street March 8, 7 p.m.

FREE!, (616) 942-2561

a cast of salty characters around a horseracing track in a fictional town in West Virginia. Gordon still sounds incredulous as she reflects on the finalist for the fiction category: “All these really

weighty topics plus my little novel.” Her humble perspective is the result of years of writing, seem-

ingly under the radar though she had been honored in numerous ways. Her 1999 novel Bogeywoman was on the Los Angeles Times’ list for Best Fiction of 2000, and her previous novels Shamp of the City-Solo and She Drove Without Stopping were well-regarded. She has been a Fellow of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass., as well as the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard. She also re- ceived an Academy Institute Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1991. Gordon now teaches writing at Western Michigan University. “My career has already changed immeasurably,” Gordon said.

HERE ARE THOSE WHO ABHOR surprises and those who delight in them. Take it from author Jaimy Gordon, winner of

2010’s National Book Award for Fiction. Her fourth novel, Lord of Misrule, “came out from a small press that’s usually not even on the radar screen of the

When she was preparing for the trip to the announcement

ceremony, her publisher reminded her to prepare a speech and dress for the occasion. “Most people spend two weeks picking out the right dress,

but I didn’t even wear a dress,” she said. “I did wear my lucky pearls…[but] I absolutely did not expect to win. When I got up there, I didn’t have much to say. I feel bad now that I didn’t say a particular thanks to the judges who were doing something extra brave by picking a book from a small press.” When Gordon says “small press,” she means it. Her publisher,

McPherson & Company, initially had planned on printing a run of 2,000 books total. The first order they got from Barnes and Noble was for 2,000 books. It is now on the New York Times Extended Bestseller of top 35 hardcover fiction works. “All of this is while the book only exists in hardcover,”

Gordon said. “It’s all very good for my publisher and very good for me.” n



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