Vocabulary from National Book Critic's Circle Fiction Finalists

January 13, 2014
The National Book Critics Circle announced their award finalists on Monday. Here are ten vocabulary words, two from each of the five fiction finalists:
Alice McDermott, Someone (excerpt here)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (excerpt here)
Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being (excerpt here)
Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch (excerpt here)
Javier Marias, The Infatuations (excerpt here)
These sentences not only show great vocabulary in use but are also prime examples of unique authorial voices that draw in the reader.
For my mother, who loved romance—especially an American romance, which involved, for her, a miraculous commingling of lives across comically disparate portions of the globe—the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Chehab was a continual source of wonder and delight.

- Alice McDermott, Someone
I deployed all my excuses in a rush: the water was too hot, the house too cold, I'd had a bath last week, I had a stomachache, I was sleepy.

- Alice McDermott, Someone
Princeton, in the summer, smelled of nothing, and although Ifemelu liked the tranquil greenness of the many trees, the clean streets and stately homes, the delicately overpriced shops, and the quiet, abiding air of earned grace, it was this, the lack of a smell, that most appealed to her, perhaps because the other American cities she knew well had all smelled distinctly.

- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
She liked watching the locals who drove with pointed courtesy and parked their latest model cars outside the organic grocery store on Nassau Street or outside the sushi restaurants or outside the ice cream shop that had fifty different flavors including red pepper or outside the post office where effusive staff bounded out to greet them at the entrance.

- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
Actually, it doesn't matter very much, because by the time you read this, everything will be different, and you will be nowhere in particular, flipping idly through the pages of this book, which happens to be the diary of my last days on earth, wondering if you should keep on reading.

- Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being
Untangling the whiplike fronds, she dislodged enough to see that what glistened underneath was not a dying sea jelly, but something plastic, a bag.

- Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being
A drenched crowd of Asian senior citizens surged past, after a crisp stewardessy guide; bedraggled Girl Scouts huddled whispering near the coat check; beside the information desk stood a line of military-school cadets in grey dress uniforms, hats off, clasped hands behind their backs.

- Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch
Though the exhibition was moderately crowded, still it had the sedate, meandering feel of a backwater, a certain vacuum-sealed calm: long sighs and extravagant exhalations like a room full of students taking a test.

- Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch
It's incomprehensible really, because it assumes a certainty, and being certain of anything goes against our nature: the certainty that someone will never come back, never speak again, never take another step — whether to come closer or to move further off — will never look at us or look away.

- Javier Marias, The Infatuations
...I began work feeling rather lower in spirits or less optimistic, as if they provided me with a vision of an orderly or, if you prefer, harmonious world, or perhaps a tiny fragment of the world visible only to a very few, as is the case with any fragment or any life, however public or exposed that life might be.

-Javier Marias, The Infatuation

Rate this wordlist:

Do you have a comment?

Share it with the Visual Thesaurus community.

Your comments:

Sign in to post a comment!

We're sorry, you must be a subscriber to comment.

Click here to subscribe today.

Already a subscriber? Click here to login.

Create a new Word List