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The Mountain Goats (music group)

John Darnielle on his novel 'Wolf in White Van'

John Darnielle on his novel 'Wolf in White Van'

When the longlist for the National Book Awards was announced last week, it had the usual suspects – books by previous winner Richard Powers and two Pulitzer winners, Jane Smiley and Marilynne Robinson. And there was one big surprise: the novel “Wolf in White Van” by John Darnielle, who is known as the man behind the Mountain Goats, a lyrically gifted indie rock band.

“Wolf in White Van” is the story of a young man who has survived a tremendously disfiguring accident – think 1980s teenagers listening to too much heavy metal. He's developed a rich imagination, enough to see a story in the cracks in a ceiling. To...