Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2009 National Book Award Finalists

In 1950, the very first National Book Award -- an award given to writers by writers -- was presented to Nelson Algren at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City for his novel The Man with the Golden Arm. Today the finalists for the 2009 awards in the now four categories were announced, and there's much to be excited about -- including an author (Laini Taylor) from Portland!

The judges for the fiction category this year are Alan Cheuse, Junot Diaz, Jennifer Egan, Charles Johnson, and Lydia Millet. Here are the five finalists for fiction, chosen from 236 nominees:

  • Bonnie Jo Campbell, American Salvage
  • Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin
  • Daniyal Mueenuddin, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
  • Jayne Anne Phillips, Lark and Termite
  • Marcel Theroux, Far North.
In the nonfiction category, the judges are David Blight, Amanda Foreman, Steve Olson, Camille Paglia, and John Phillips Santos. Selected from 481 nominees, the five finalists are
  • David M. Carroll, Following the Water: A Hydromancer's Notebook
  • Sean B. Carroll, Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species
  • Greg Grandin, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City
  • Adrienne Mayor, The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy
  • T.J. Stiles, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt
In poetry the judges, who selected from 161 nominations, are Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, A. Van Jordan, Cole Swenson, Kevin Young. Here are the finalists they selected:
  • Rae Armantrout, Versed
  • Ann Lauterbach, Or to Begin Again
  • Carl Phillips, Speak Low
  • Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Open Interval
  • Keith Waldrop, Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy
The judges for the Young People's Literature category are Kathi Appelt, Coe Booth, Carolyn Coman, Nancy Werlin, and Gene Luen Yang. From 251 nominations, they selected the following finalists:
  • Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith
  • Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
  • David Small, Stitches
  • Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times
  • Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped
The winners will be announced at the 60th National Book Awards Benefit Dinner and Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City on Wednesday, November 18th. Also being recognized at that ceremony will be two previously announced winners: Gore Vidal, Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and Dave Eggers, Literarian Award. In 2008, the winners in each of the four categories, in the same order as presented, above were
  • Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country
  • Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
  • Mark Doty, Fire to Fire
  • Judy Blundell, What I Saw and How I Lied
Have you read any of these? Which ones would you pick as the winners? You've got just over a month to fill in your reading gaps before the award ceremony -- sort of like trying to watch all of the Academy Award Best Picture nominees before the Oscars!

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