Professor Sigrid Nunez '75 and Diana Khoi Nguyen '12 Longlisted for 2018 National Book Award

BY Zoe Contros Kearl, October 11, 2018

The Friend book coverFiction alumna and professor Sigrid Nunez '75 is longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award for fiction for her latest novel The Friend, and poetry alumna Diana Khoi Nguyen '12 is longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award for poetry for her book Ghost Of.


The Friend is a story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog. When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.


"Nunez’s prose itself comforts us. Her confident and direct style uplifts—the music in her sentences, her deep and varied intelligence." – The New York Times Book Review


Ghost of book coverGhost Of is a mourning song, not an exorcism or un-haunting of that which haunts, but attuned attention, unidirectional reaching across time, space, and distance to reach loved ones, ancestors, and strangers. Nguyen wrestles with what remains: memory, physical voids, and her family captured around an empty space.


"It is as if a medieval scholar were transcribing an ancient Latin manuscript, pieces of script are missing, illegible, annulled by time. The scholar writes in the margins Desunt Non Nulla— signifying—Not No Things Are Missing, Nguyen’s voice is both wraithlike and astonishingly frontal; this is one of the most gifted first books I’ve read." - Lucie Brock-Broido


Established in 1950, the National Book Award is an American literary prize administered by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization. A pantheon of such writers as William Faulkner, Marianne Moore, Ralph Ellison, John Cheever, Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, Robert Lowell, Walker Percy, John Updike, Katherine Anne Porter, Norman Mailer, Lillian Hellman, Elizabeth Bishop, Saul Bellow, Donald Barthelme, Flannery O’Connor, Adrienne Rich, Thomas Pynchon, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Alice Walker, Charles Johnson, E. Annie Proulx, and Colum McCann have all won the Award. The shortlist for this year's award will be announced in mid-October. 


Sigrid Nunez has published seven novels, including A Feather on the Breath of God, The Last of Her Kind, Salvation City, and, most recently, The Friend. She is also the author of Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag. Her writing has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Paris Review, Harper’s, McSweeney’sThe New Yorker, and elsewhere. Sigrid’s honors and awards include a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Berlin Prize Fellowship, and two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters: the Rosenthal Foundation Award and the Rome Prize in Literature. She lives in New York City.


Diana Khoi Nguyen was born in Los Angeles, and is a poet and multimedia artist whose work has appeared widely in literary journals such as Poetry, American Poetry ReviewBoston ReviewPEN America, and The Iowa Review. A winner of the 92Y’s Discovery / Boston Review 2017 Poetry Contest, she is a PhD candidate in creative writing at the University of Denver.