2012 National Book Award Finalists Announced

The National Book Foundation announced the finalists for the sixty-third annual National Book Awards today. Among the most prestigious literary honors in the United States, the awards are given for books published in the previous year.

The finalists in fiction are Junot Dí­az for This Is How You Lose Her (Riverhead Books), Dave Eggers for A Hologram for the King (McSweeney’s Books), Louise Erdrich for The Round House (Harper), Ben Fountain for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ecco), and Kevin Powers for The Yellow Birds (Little, Brown).

The finalists in poetry are David Ferry for Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations (University of Chicago Press), Cynthia Huntington for Heavenly Bodies (Southern Illinois University Press), Tim Seibles for Fast Animal (Etruscan Press), Alan Shapiro for Night of the Republic (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and Susan Wheeler for Meme (University of Iowa Press).

The finalists in nonfiction are Anne Applebaum for Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956 (Doubleday), Katherine Boo for Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (Random House), Robert A. Caro for The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4 (Knopf), Domingo Martinez for The Boy Kings of Texas (Lyons Press), and the late Anthony Shadid for House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

The finalists were announced this morning by the chairman of the National Book Awards, David Steinberger, on the MSNBC program “Morning Joe.” The year’s selections include writers both emerging and established, with two of the finalists representing debut works. “We are particularly pleased that the finalists include some of the most well-known literary names in America and new names and faces to the National Book Awards,” Harold Augenbraum, the executive director of the National Book Foundation, said in a statement.

The winners—one each in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and young people’s literature—will be announced at the National Book Awards benefit dinner and ceremony in New York City on November 14. They will each receive $10,000, and all finalists will receive $1,000. Elmore Leonard, whose most recent novel is Raylan (William Morrow, 2012), will be awarded the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. New York Times chairman and publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr. will receive the Foundation’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Contribution to the American Literary Community.

Publishers submitted 1,285 books for the 2012 awards, including 311 in fiction, 479 in nonfiction, and 181 in poetry. The finalists are selected by four panels of judges, comprised of distinguished individuals in the literary community. Established in 1950, the New York City-based National Book Foundation gave the first annual National Book Award to poet William Carlos Williams; William Faulkner received the award in fiction the following year. Recent winners have included fiction writer Jesmyn Ward, poet Nikky Finney, and nonfiction writer Stephen Greenblatt. The Foundation also recently released the recipients of the 2012 5 under 35 awards, which honor emerging writers under the age of thirty-five.