She was one of the contenders for this year’s National Book Award for fiction, but Grace Paley lost out to novelist William Gaddis. This came as no surprise; after all, Grace Paley: The Collected Stories contained only previously published work. Still, making it to the award’s top five was a feat—possibly even more difficult than getting a good seat at tonight’s reading. Paley, whose tales of Greenwich Village have a wide-eyed solemnity that often lapses into mischievous wit, reads at 8 p.m. at the Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St. SE. $20. For reservations call (202) 544-7077. (Nathalie op de Beeck)