Books about war-torn Iraq and post-World War II Eastern Europe, Lyndon Johnson and Mumbai were among 20 finalists announced on Wednesday for the annual National Book Awards, among the most prestigious in U.S. publishing. The National Book Foundation, which administers the awards, nominated five writers in each of four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature. The finalists for the nonfiction prize included former New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid, who received a posthumous nomination for "House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East," and Robert Caro for the fourth volume in his monumental biography of former U.S. President Johnson, "The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4." Both writers are Pulitzer Prize winners. In February, Shadid died of an asthma attack at age 43 while reporting in eastern Syria.
Nominees for fiction included well-known authors such as Junot Díaz for "This Is How You Lose Her" and Dave Eggers for "A Hologram for the King." Louise Erdrich for "The Round House," Ben Fountain for "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk," and Kevin Powers for "The Yellow Birds" were the other fiction finalists. Nonfiction nominees also included Anne Applebaum for "Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956," Katherine Boo for "Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity," and Domingo Martinez for "The Boy Kings of Texas."
Winners will be chosen by panels of four or five judges, who include writers Brad Gooch and Susan Orlean for nonfiction and Stacey D'Erasmo and Janet Peery on the fiction side. The poetry finalists included David Ferry for "Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations," Cynthia Huntington for "Heavenly Bodies," Tim Seibles for "Fast Animal," Alan Shapiro for "Night of the Republic" and Susan Wheeler for "Meme."
The young people's literature finalists were William Alexander for "Goblin Secrets," Carrie Arcos for "Out of Reach," Patricia McCormick for "Never Fall Down," Eliot Schrefer for "Endangered" and Steve Sheinkin for "Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World's Most Dangerous Weapon." The four winning writers each receive a $10,000 prize. The awards will be presented on November 14 at a gala ceremony in New York at which novelist Elmore Leonard and New York Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. will also receive lifetime achievement honors. (Reporting by Chris Michaud, editing by Christine Kearney; and Peter Galloway)