EVER SINCE Roz Chast told Comic Riffs several years ago that she was working on a graphic novel about her parents and eldercare, it’s been a joy to follow the journey of her masterful memoir.
On Wednesday, the New Yorker cartoonist’s first graphic novel, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” (Bloomsbury), garnered its latest honor, as it was shortlisted for the National Book Award.
The recognition is historic, as well: Chast is the first cartoonist to be a finalist for the National Book Award in the nonfiction category.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Chast tells Comic Riffs on Wednesday. “It really is.”
The winners in the four categories — Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Young People’s Literature — will be announced at a Nov. 19 ceremony in New York. The finalists each receive $1,000; each winner will receive $10,000.
The other finalists in the nonfiction category are “No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes” (Metropolitan), by Anand Gopal; “Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh” (Norton), by John Lahr; “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China” (FSG), by Evan Osnos (a staff writer for the New Yorker); and “The Meaning of Human Existence” (Liveright), by E.O. Wilson.
The nonfiction judges are editor Robert Atwan, writer Gretel Ehrlich, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Tom Reiss, former president of Brown University Ruth J. Simmons and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Alan Taylor. They considered 495 submissions, reports my Book World colleague Ron Charles.
Last month, Chast was announced as a finalist for the inaugural Kirkus Prize.