On Monday, the winners of the 2011 Indie Lit Awards were announced. Finally, I can discuss the books with you! In the Fiction category, Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones took the cake while Dance Lessons by Aine Greaney was the runner-up, both books I enjoyed tremendously. Another nominee, The Night Circus, was also a huge favorite of mine.
I did have a really tough time deciding between these three. Night Circus was beautiful - the imagery was vivid, the magic was clever, the plot was thrilling. But the characters aren't part of its strengths at all. Still, when I closed the book finally, I knew it was going to be one of my favorite books, even with its faults.
Silver Sparrow was more grounded in reality. The first thought that comes to mind when I think of this book is its strong characters. They were flawed, yet very human, and not at all stereotypical. Even the plot was intriguing. Unfortunately, the ending tripped for me. It was somewhat unsatisfying.
Dance Lessons is what I would like to call the underdog of this competition. I had heard of all the other books in the shortlist before they were nominated. Dance Lessons was the lone stranger, and its synopsis, cover and title didn't interest me at all. But the book was wonderful. Most of the characters were well-etched (there were still a couple that bugged me), the plot was interesting, but here again, I found some things not making sense.
In the end, it was Silver Sparrow's literary merit that won out for me, and I was glad when it won the award in Fiction category. There were two other books in the shortlist that didn't leave me feeling enthusiastic. Cross Currents by John Shors started off well, but the pacing really disappointed me. None of the characters left an impression on me and the ending felt more filmy that realistic. The biggest disappointment, however, was The Last Time I Saw Paris by Lynn Sheene. It took me a long time and some dedicated scheduling to read this book - it might do better as a movie, because it had some aspects that would make it great for the screen but the book didn't appeal to me.
Now that the winners have been announced, I'm eager to read the top books in the other categories. I haven't read any of them, except for one book.
Winner: Little Princes by Conor Grennan
Runner-Up: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
Winner: Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender by Nick Krieger
Runner-Up: Huntress by Malinda Lo
Winner: A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny
Runner-Up: Fun and Games by Duane Swierczynski
Winner: Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
Runner-Up: Berlin 1961 by Frederick Kempe
Winner: Catalina by Laurie Soriano
Runner-Up: What Looks Like an Elephant by Edward Nudelman
Winner: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (one of my favorites from last year!)
Runner-Up: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness