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L.A. Times Names Finalists for Best Books of 2011

Read more from G&A: The Contest Blog

A blog from: Poets & Writers Magazine

Posted by Prize Reporter on 2.22.12

Yesterday the Los Angeles Times announced the shortlists for its 2011 Book Awards, given in ten categories including poetry, fiction, biography, and the graphic novel.

The finalists in poetry are Jim Harrison for Songs of Unreason (Copper Canyon Press), Dawn Lundy Martin for Discipline (Nightboat Books), Linda Norton for The Public Gardens (Pressed Wafer), and 2011 National Book Award finalists Carl Phillips for Double Shadow (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and Bruce Smith for Devotions (University of Chicago Press), which is also on the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award shortlist.

In fiction, Joseph O’Connor is shortlisted for Ghost Light (Frances Coady Books), Michael Ondaatje for The Cat’s Table (Knopf), and Alex Shakar for Luminarium (Soho Press), as well as National Book Award finalists Julie Otsuka, for The Buddha in the Attic (Knopf), and Edith Pearlman, for Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories (Lookout Books). Debut authors up for the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction are Chad Harbach for The Art of Fielding (Little, Brown), Eleanor Henderson for Ten Thousand Saints (Ecco), Ben Lerner for Leaving the Atocha Station (Coffee House Press), Ismet Prcic for Shards (Black Cat), and James Wallenstein for The Arriviste (Milkweed Editions).

Up for the graphic novel honor are Joseph Lambert for I Will Bite You! And Other Stories (Secret Acres), Dave McKean for Celluloid (Fantagraphics), Carla Speed McNeil for Finder: Voice (Dark Horse), Jim Woodring for Congress of the Animals (Fantagraphics), and Yuichi Yokoyama for Garden (PictureBox). The award, the first major literary award given for the graphic novel form, is now in its third year.

Representing creative nonfiction on the biography shortlist are Alexandra Styron's memoir Reading My Father: A Memoir (Scribner) and Mark Whitaker's My Long Trip Home: A Family Memoir (Simon & Schuster). The late biographer Manning Marable, whose Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (Viking) was a 2011 National Book Award finalist and is shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award, is also nominated in the biography category.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on April 20, just prior to this year's Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which comes to the University of Southern California on April 21 and 22. Alongside the winners, the Times will honor novelist Rudolfo Anaya, who debuted in 1972 with the novel Bless Me, Ultima (Quinto Sol Publications), with the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement.

In the video below, Anaya reads from his novel Albuquerque (Warner Books, 1994) and discusses the importance of place to a writer.

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