Funny thing about book awards—they rarely honor books that make you laugh. For some reason, too many people believe humorous writing is incompatible with serious literary merit. In this man’s opinion, long-form humor is just about the hardest kind of writing to do well. (Right up there with picture books, but that’s another story.) Fortunately, the Thurber Prize for American Humor throws a bone to those authors who toil long and hard in order to tickle our ribs. This year’s finalists are below; the winner will be announced, and the award will be presented, on September 28 in a ceremony at Carolines on Broadway in New York City.
(If I were a bookie, and bookies gave odds on literary prizes for American humor, I think I’d have Chast at even money.)
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
Dear Committee Members, by Julie Schumacher
I See You Made An Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50, Annabelle Gurwitch