The twenty Finalists for the 2010 National Book Award were announced today. The list includes a previous National Book Award Winner, two previous Finalists, thirteen women--the largest number of women Finalists in a single year in the Awards' history--and six books from small, independent presses.
The Fiction list includes Australian-born Peter Carey (now a U.S. citizen living in New York City); Brooklynite Nicole Krauss; North Carolina native Lionel Shriver, who now divides her time between Brooklyn and London; Baltimore native, now Michigan-based Jaimy Gordon; and Californian Karen Tei Yamashita.
Young People's Literature Finalists Walter Dean Myers and Rita Williams-Garcia have both been Finalists in the category in previous years, the former in 1999 and 2005, and the latter just last year. The other three Finalists are Paolo Bacigalupi, a Nebula and Hugo Award nominee for his adult science-fiction writing (Ship Breaker is his first book for young readers); former attorney Kathryn Erskine for her second book for young adults; and Laura McNeal, a former teacher who co-authored her three previous books with her husband.
The nonfiction list includes a memoir, a biography, and three diverse accounts of war. Musician and poet Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids chronicles both her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and the artistic and political scenes of New York City in the 1970s, and Justin Spring's biography of Samuel Steward is a veritable archive of the social history of gay life before Stonewall. Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy and Megan K. Stack's Every Man in This Village Is a Liar tell of the ongoing turmoil in North Korea and the Middle East, respectively, while 1999 National Book Award Winner John W. Dower's Cultures of War examines the effects of four powerful historical events: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
All of this year's Poetry Finalists are first-time nominees for the Award, though C.D. Wright was a National Book Awards Judge in 2006. By the Numbers is James Richardson's seventh book of poetry, in addition to his two critical works. The Eternal City by Kathleen Graber and Ignatz by attorney Monica Youn are second collections, while Lighthead is Terrance Hayes' third.
The Winner in each category--Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature--will be announced at the 61st National Book Awards Benefit Dinner and Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City on Wednesday, November 17. Each Winner will receive $10,000 and a bronze statue; each Finalist will receive $1,000 and a bronze medal. Tom Wolfe will receive the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, to be presented by journalist and founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, Tina Brown. The Foundation's Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community will go to Sesame Street visionary Joan Ganz Cooney, to be presented by children's book author and the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, Jon Scieszka.
The Finalists were selected by four distinguished panels of five judges each who were given the charge of selecting what they deem to be the best books of the year. Their decisions are made independent of the National Book Foundation, which organizes the Awards program, and their deliberations are strictly confidential. To be eligible for a 2010 National Book Award, a book must have been published in the United States between December 1, 2009, and November 30, 2010, and must have been written by a United States citizen.
"The diversity of voices among the Finalists in all the categories makes it a particularly intriguing year for the National Book Award," said National Book Foundation Executive Director Harold Augenbraum.