The New York Public Library has announced the five finalists for its twelfth annual Young Lions Fiction Award, given to an emerging writer for a work published in in the previous year. The winner of the honor, which carries a prize of ten thousand dollars, will be announced on May 14.
The 2012 finalists are Teju Cole for Open City (Random House), Benjamin Hale for The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore (Twelve), Ben Lerner for Leaving the Atocha Station (Coffee House Press), Karen Russell for Swamplandia! (Knopf), and Jesmyn Ward for Salvage the Bones (Bloomsbury). Salvage the Bones, Ward's second novel after her breakout, Where the Line Bleeds (Agate Publishing, 2008), won the National Book Award in fiction last fall. Cole's debut was a finalist for this year's National Book Critics Circle Award.
Recent winners of the NYPL's top honor for emerging writers are Adam Levin for The Instructions (McSweeney's Books, 2010), Wells Tower for Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009), and Salvatore Scibona for The End (Graywolf Press, 2008). The award is an program of the library's Young Lions, a group of donors in their twenties and thirties.
In the video below, finalist Teju Cole presents "a sneak peak" into his nascent nonfiction project at Franklin Park bar in Brooklyn, New York.