National Book Award finalists are announced(Read article summary)
Junot Diaz, Dave Eggers, and Katherine Boo all made the cut for final consideration for the award.
In a departure from years past, this yearâ€™s finalists includes some of the countryâ€™s most prominent and popular writers, authors, novelists, and poets who have gained literary respect as well as commercial success.
Dominican-born writer Junot Diaz, still spinning from being awarded a â€śgeniusâ€ť grant by the MacArthur Foundation last week, is nominated for his collection of short stories, â€śThis is How You Lose Her.â€ť (Diaz also won a Pulitzer Prize for his first novel, â€śThe Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.â€ť)
The list also includes the late New York Times journalist and foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid for his memoir, â€śHouse of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East.â€ť Shadid died earlier this year on a reporting assignment for the Times in Syria.Â
Other non-fiction nominees include â€śThe Passage of Power,â€ť Robert Caroâ€™s fourth book on Lyndon Johnson; â€śBehind the Beautiful Forevers,â€ť Katherine Booâ€™s account of life in a Mumbai slum; â€śThe Boy Kings of Texas,â€ť by Domingo Martinez; and â€śIron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe,â€ť Anne Applebaumâ€™s history of how Communism took over Eastern Europe.
Fiction nominees include Louise Erdichâ€™s â€śThe Round House,â€ť Dave Eggersâ€™ â€śA Hologram for the King,â€ť Kevin Powersâ€™ â€śThe Yellow Birds,â€ť and Ben Fountainâ€™s â€śBilly Lynnâ€™s Long Halftime Walk.â€ť
A few themes weâ€™re seeing this year: By and large, the finalists are more well-known and more widely read than in years past when nominations went to relatively obscure works that sold few copies, a source of criticism.
In the fiction category, the works tend to address struggles faced in modern American life such as financial struggle, foreclosure, and rising college tuition in â€śA Hologram for the King,â€ť and post-traumatic stress disorder and other fallout from the Iraq war, as in debut novels â€śThe Yellow Birdsâ€ť and â€śBilly Lynnâ€™s Long Halftime Walk.â€ť
Finalists in poetry include â€śBewilderment: New Poems and Translations,â€ť by David Ferry; â€śHeavenly Bodies,â€ť by Cynthia Huntington; â€śFast Animal,â€ť by Tim Seibles; â€śNight of the Republic,â€ť by Alan Shapiro; and â€śMeme,â€ť by Susan Wheeler.
In young peopleâ€™s literature, finalists include â€śGoblin Secrets,â€ť by William Alexander; â€śOut of Reach,â€ť by Carrie Arcos; â€śNever Fall Down,â€ť by Patricia McCormick; â€śEndangered,â€ť by Eliot Schrefer; and â€śBombâ€ť by Steve Sheinkin.
Winners in each of four categories (Fiction, Non-fiction, Young Adult, and Poetry) will be announced Nov. 14 in New York. Each receives $10,000, and, far more valuable, a serious boost in their literary reputation and book sales.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.