I've had a chance to properly digest the Festival of Books panels, and there are several others I now see that I would also like to attend. More on those later. And while I did say, plainly, that I didn't see any heavy-hitters (for which I've been taken to task), I still don't. At least not really. I see that was misleading and I should have been more specific. What I meant by that (other than the obviously big names like TC Boyle, Vikram Chandra, Gore Vidal and the like) is that there are several Book Prize- nominated authors who aren't on the list of authors in attendance at the festival. That surprises me. While no category is a clear-cut win, a handful of nominated authors in each category are listed as being on panels or available for signings at the festival. So, determining who will win a prize might be difficult. Might involve tea leaves and the like.
Yet, the more I looked into it, I wondered, might it be possible to deduce who won't win a book prize from the LAT by cross-referencing the nominated authors with the authors who will attend the festival? Who knows? Let's look at the evidence:
Fiction: Two nominated authors from this category are not listed on the author attendance list: David Mitchell and A.B. Yehoshua. Could this mean neither of them will win an award? Possibly.
Mystery/Thriller: Jess Walter (my secret front-runner to win) is the ONLY nominated author in this category who isn't listed on the author attendance list. Hmmm. Either he is most definitely not going to win, or they are trying to keep his win a huge secret by not listing him at all. Which surely someone would notice at some point, right? I'm guessing its the former. Damn.
Biography: Neal Gabler & Daniel Mendelsohn are both nominated and are not listed to attend. Now, with Mendelsohn, fine. He's a busy man. I get it. Gabler, on the other hand, is a surprise. Especially since his nominated book is about Disney. Not sure what to make of this one as I thought Mendelsohn was a no-brainer for the win.
Current Interest: Ian Buruma is the only nominated author not listed to attend the festival. Hmmm. I'd say odds are high he won't win. What do you think?
Poetry: Adrian C. Louis and Frederick Siedel. Both nominated, neither listed to show. Curious, no?
First Fiction: This might be where the wheels fall off my misguided train. ALL nominated authors are listed to attend. But, it sort of makes sense, right? I mean, it is First Fiction. If my first book ever came out, I'd attend the hell out of anything I was invited to. But that's just me.
History: Niall Ferguson (again, my front-runner pick) and Nathanial Philbrick. Nominated. Not listed to attend. Plot thickening here or am I reaching?
Science & Technology: Three - count 'em - three nominated authors aren't listed to attend. Who does that leave in the running? Ann Gibbons with her look at Benjamin Franklin and Eric R. Kandel with his much-celebrated book In Search of Memory. I'm guessing he wins.
Young Adult Fiction: Meg Rosoff is the ONLY nominated author not listed to attend. A clear cut case of her not taking home the prize? We'll have to see.
Now, I realize that these authors may well have other obligations that simply prevent them from attending. I'm sure invitations were extended. I'm also pretty sure that the LAT (despite recent scandals and ethical dilemmas that would point to the contrary) wouldn't decide who to give the prize to based on who simply showed up. So, you know, my logic is not without fault. The proof will be in the proverbial pudding come showtime in late April. I'll be back then to see if my wayward predictions of who won't win had any merit. I also reserve the right to change my tune in the coming weeks should the author attendance list change dramatically in either direction.