National Book Award Finalists Announced

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The five finalists for the National Book Award for fiction has been officially announced. The finalists include Thomas Pynchon (The Bleeding Edge), Jhumpa Lahiri (The Lowland), James McBride (The Good Lord Bird), Rachel Kushner, (The Flamethrowers), and George Saunders (Tenth of December).

Lahiri, Saunders, and Pynchon, have been on USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list this year with Lahiri peaking at number 9, Saunders at number 26, and Pynchon at number 29.

Pynchon is the notoriously private novelist who has continually captivated audiences for over 40 years. His novel, “The Bleeding Edge” is set in New York between the dot-com boom and 9/11. He is one of the most known novelists in this year’s finalists. However, it is doubtful that he will attend the black-tie awards ceremony in New York as he has evaded journalists throughout his 40 year career. In 1974 when he won the National Book Award for “Gravity’s Rainbow” his publisher accepted the prize on his behalf.

Lahiri’s novel, “The Lowland” follows an Indian-American scientist who brings his brother’s widow to America.

“The Good Lord Bird” by McBride, imagines a young slave joining John Brown’s raid.

“Tenth of December” by Saunders, is a short story collection that deals with sex, class, loss and war.

“The Flamethrowers” is about a young female artist fascinated by speed and motorcycles who gets entangled with a group of Italian radicals.

In the three other categories, the finalists are:

Non-fiction:

  • Jill Lepore, (Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin)
  • Wendy Lower, (Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields)
  • George Packer, (The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America)
  • Alan Taylor, (The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832)
  • Lawrence Wright, (Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief)

Young People’s Literature:

  • Kathi Appelt, (The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp)
  • Cynthia Kadohata, (The Thing About Luck)
  • Tom McNeal, (Far Far Away)
  • Meg Rosoff, (Picture Me Gone)
  • Gene Luen Yang, (Boxers & Saints)

Poetry:

  • Frank Bidart, (Metaphysical Dog)
  • Lucie Brock-Broido, (Stay, Illusion)
  • Adrian Matejka,(The Big Smoke)
  • Matt Rasmussen, (Black Aperture)
  • Mary Szybist, (Incarnadine)

At the awards ceremony, the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters will be presented to novelist E.L. Doctorow. And Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison will present the Literarian Award for Outstanding Contribution to the American Literary Community to poet and memoirist Maya Angelou.

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