Novelist Marilynne Robinson, cartoonist Roz Chast and former U.S. poet laureate Louise Gluck are among this year’s finalists for the National Book Awards.
Robinson was cited for “Lila,” the third of an Iowa-based trilogy that began with her Pulitzer Prize-winning “Gilead.” Chast was nominated for her graphic memoir “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” and Gluck for the poetry collection “Faithful and Virtuous Night.” The National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization that presents the awards, announced five finalists in each of four categories Wednesday. A long list of 10 per category was released last month.
Winners, each of whom receive $10,000, will be disclosed at a Nov. 19 ceremony in New York. Daniel Handler of “Lemony Snicket” fame will host and honorary prizes will be given to science fiction-fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin and literacy advocate Kyle Zimmer.
The fiction list was a mix of such long-established authors as Robinson and newer fiction writers, including Emily St. John Mandel, nominated for the post-apocalyptic novel “Station Eleven,” and Iraq War veteran Phil Klay, cited for his debut collection, “Redeployment.” Most of the books told stories of war and devastation, from “Station Eleven” and “Redeployment” to Rabih Alameddine’s novel set in Beirut, “An Unnecessary Woman,” and Anthony Doerr’s “All the Light We Cannot See,” set in Europe during World War II.
Another novel set during wartime, Richard Flanagan’s “The Narrow Road to the Deep North,” won Britain’s Man Booker Prize on Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning, “The Narrow Road” was in the top 20 on Amazon.com, the kind of sales surge U.S. publishers would like to see for the National Book Awards. The book foundation, which has several publishers on its board of directors, introduced longlists and other changes to the nominating process a year ago in an attempt to emulate the Bookers.
Nonfiction nominees besides Chast, the only woman in the category, were Anand Gopal for “No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes”; John Lahr for “Tennessee Williams”; Evan Osnos for “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China”; Edward O. Wilson for “The Meaning of Human Existence.”
In young people’s literature, finalists were Eliot Schrefer for “Threatened,” Steve Sheinkin for “The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights,” John Corey Whaley for “Noggin,” Deborah Wiles for “Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two” and Jacqueline Woodson for “Brown Girl Dreaming.” All but Corey have been nominees in previous years.
The poetry finalists were Gluck, Fanny Howe for “Second Childhood,” Maureen N. McLane for “This Blue,” Fred Moten for “The Feel Trio” and Claudia Rankine for “Citizen: An American Lyric.”
A total of 1,425 books were submitted for the awards, with finalists chosen by five-member panels in each category that include writers, booksellers and other members of the literary community.
Finalists in nonfiction, fiction, Y/A and poetry will appear Nov. 21 at Miami Book Fair International.