Each year, a panel of 20 writers, literary critics, librarians, and booksellers chooses the winner of the National Book Award, generally considered to be the highest prize in the literary community.
The winner in each category will be revealed at the Nov. 20 award ceremony in New York City.
Here are the finalists:
“The Flamethrowers” by Rachel Kushner: This is a riveting, intense love story set against the grit of mid-seventies New York City and Rome.
“The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri: The latest from the Pulitzer-prize winning author is a complex family drama about two brothers torn apart by revolution in 1960s India.
“The Good Lord Bird” by James McBride: This historical novel is an imaginative retelling of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859.
“Bleeding Edge” by Thomas Pynchon: The notoriously secretive author brings us a complicated, romantic portrait of New York City just before 9/11.
“Tenth of December” by George Saunders: In this collection, Saunders writes short stories about love, work, and war that raise big questions about humanity and morality.
“Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin” by Jill Lepore: Letters, documents, and portraits tell the fascinating story of Jane Franklin, sister of Benjamin and mother of twelve.
“Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields” by Wendy Lower: This is the shocking untold story of the thousands of women who participated in German brutality during the Holocaust.
“The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America” by George Packer: Packer weaves together true stories of individual Americans to create a modern portrait of a country falling apart at the seams.
“The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832” by Alan Taylor: This book examines the role the British empire had in bringing America to the Civil War.
“Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief” by Lawrence Wright: This is an in-depth look into the world of Scientology, based on interviews with members both famous and less well-known.
“Metaphysical Dog” by Frank Bidart: This collection is a shocking, psychological reflection on the meaning of poetry itself.
“Stay, Illusion” by Lucie Brock-Broido: The poems in Brock-Broido’s collection have an air of magic and mourning.
“The Big Smoke” by Adrian Matejka: These poems center on the complicated history of Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion.
“Black Aperture” by Matt Rasmussen: Rasmussen blurs the lines between grief and humour in this collection centered on his brother’s suicide.
“Incarnadine: Poems” by Mary Szybist: The poems in this collection use formal innovations — diagrammed sentences, poems arranged like a sunburst — to address issues of love and faith.
Young people’s literature:
“The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp” by Kathi Appelt: Two raccoons try to save their swamp home from destruction.
“The Thing About Luck” by Cynthia Kadohata: 12-year-old Summer must take over the work on her family’s farm when her parents leave for Japan.
“Far Far Away” by Tom McNeal: The Brothers Grimm make an appearance in this modern fairy tale.
“Picture Me Gone” by Meg Rosoff: A 12-year-old “mentalist” solves the mystery behind the disappearance of her father’s friend.
“Boxers & Saints” by Gene Luen Yang: This two-volume graphic novel tells stories from opposing sides of the Boxer Rebellion.
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