National Book Award finalists announced - with an extra title [UPDATED]
This post has been updated. Please see note below for details.
A deceased biographer and a first-time bestselling novelist are among the finalists for the 2011 National Book Awards. Five finalists in four categories -- fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature -- were announced Wednesday in Oregon. After the announcement, a sixth book was added to the list of finalists in young people's literature. "We made a mistake, there was a miscommunication," said Harold Augebraum, executive director of the National Book Foundation. "We could have taken one of the books away to keep it five, but we decided that it was better to add a sixth one as an exception, because they're all good books."
Manning Marable's "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention" is among the most high-profile titles on the list. Marable spent 15 years working on the new biography and died just days before its release in April. Another book that made the news was "The Tiger's Wife," the impressive debut novel by young writer Téa Obreht, who just celebrated her 26th birthday.
Continuing a trend that sparked with the 2010 Pulitzer Prize going to Paul Harding's "Tinkers," published by the small independent Bellevue Literary Press, the fiction judges again looked to independents as well as major publishers. This year, Bellevue, which is a project of the New York University School of Medicine, got another nod for "The Sojourn" by Andrew Krivak. And newcomer Lookout Books, the literary imprint of the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, saw "Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories" by Edith Pearlman" its very first publication, be lauded as a finalist. The other fiction titles include Julie Otsuka's "The Buddha in the Attic," which reached No. 9 on the L.A. Times bestseller list, and "Salvage the Bones" by Jesmyn Ward.
The nonfiction list has two big historical biographies, the kind of books these prizes often celebrate: Marable's new read on Malcokm X and "Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution" by Mary Gabriel. Yet it also includes an unusual choice, a biography done in graphic novel form, in a highly artistic watercolor style: that's "Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout" by Lauren Redniss, published by It Books. Rounding out the nonfiction finalists are "The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism" by Deborah Baker and "The Swerve: How the World Became Modern" by Stephen Greenblatt, author of "Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare."
The young people's literature finalists, which were announced on radio and before a live audience at the Literary Arts Center in Portland, were Debby Dahl Edwardson ("My Name Is Not Easy"), Thanhha Lai ("Inside Out and Back Again"), Albert Marrin ("Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy"), Lauren Myracle ("Shine") and Gary D. Schmidt ("Okay for Now"). The National Book Foundation later announced that "Chime" by Franny Billingsley also was a finalist.
Adrienne Rich, 82, is among the poetry finalists, along with veteran writers Yusef Komunyakaa, Bruce Smith, Carl Phillips and Nikky Finney.
The National Book Foundation will announce the winners at a gala in New York on Nov. 16.
"The Sojourn" by Andrew Krivak, published by Bellevue Literary Press (L.A. Times review)
"The Tiger's Wife" by Téa Obreht, published by Random House (L.A. Times review)
"The Buddha in the Attic" by Julie Otsuka, published by Knopf
"Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories" by Edith Pearlman, published by Lookout Books (L.A. Times review)
"Salvage the Bones" by Jesmyn Ward, published by Bloomsbury
"The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism" by Deborah Baker, published by Graywolf Press. (L.A. Times review)
"Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution" by Mary Gabriel, published by Little, Brown and Co.
"The Swerve: How the World Became Modern" by Stephen Greenblatt, published by W.W. Norton & Co.
"Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention" by Manning Marable, published by Viking (L.A. Times review)
"Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout" by Lauren Redniss, published by It Books
"Head Off and Split" by Nikky Finney, published by Triquarterly
"The Chameleon Couch" by Yusef Komunyakaa, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
"Double Shadow" by Carl Phillips, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
"Tonight No Poetry Will Serve" by Adrienne Rich, published by W.W. Norton & Co.
"Devotions" by Bruce Smith, published by University of Chicago Press
Young People's Literature:
"My Name Is Not Easy" by Debby Dahl Edwardson, published by Marshall Cavendish Corp.
"Inside Out and Back Again" by Thanhha Lai, published by HarperCollins
"Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy" by Albert Marrin, published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
"Shine" by Lauren Myracle, published by Amulet Books (L.A. Times review)
"Okay for Now" by Gary D. Schmidt, published by Clarion Books
"Chime" by Franny Billingsley
[UPDATE 10/12/11 4:40pm: The original version of this post said that "Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution" was written by Deborah Baker. Baker is the author of "The Convert"; "Love and Capital" is by Mary Gabriel.]
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photos: Manning Marable, left, in 2001. Credit: Mario Tama Getty Images. Right, Téa Obreht. Credit: Alexi Zentner / Random House