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National Book Award nominees announced

October 15, 2008 | 10:30 am


The finalists for the National Book Award were announced this morning in Chicago; the interesting list includes L.A.-based author Rachel Kushner, left, for her debut novel "Telex from Cuba." Joan Wickersham, right, is a finalist in the nonfiction category for her memoir, "The Suicide Index: Putting My Father's Death in Order."

The fiction finalists are an interesting mix. Both Kushner and Salvatore Scibona have been nominated for their first novels. Aleksandar Hemon is also a relative newcomer; "The Lazarus Project" is his second novel (he's also published a collection of short fiction). At the other end of the spectrum is the prolific 81-year-old Peter Matthiessen, who has written more than 20 books of nonfiction and 10 of fiction; "Shadow Country" is a hefty "new rendering" of three of these earlier novels. And falling somewhere in between is Marilynne Robinson -- a writer in her 60s with just two books of nonfiction and three novels to her credit, and who practically fills her shelves with awards each time she publishes fiction. 

We'll look at all the finalists' work in more depth in the future, but for now, links to the L.A. Times coverage of these books is below.

Aleksandar Hemon,"The Lazarus Project"
Rachel Kushner, "Telex from Cuba"
Peter Matthiessen, "Shadow Country"
Marilynne Robinson, "Home"
Salvatore Scibona, "The End"

Drew Gilpin Faust, "This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War"
Annette Gordon-Reed, "The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family"
Jane Mayer, "The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals"
Jim Sheeler, "Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives"
Joan Wickersham, "The Suicide Index: Putting My Father's Death in Order"

After the jump: the finalists in poetry and young people's literature.

Frank Bidart, Watching the Spring Festival
Mark Doty, "Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems"
Reginald Gibbons, "Creatures of a Day"
Richard Howard, "Without Saying"
Patricia Smith, "Blood Dazzler"

Young People's Literature
Laurie Halse Anderson, "Chains"
Kathi Appelt, "The Underneath"
Judy Blundell, "What I Saw and How I Lied"
E. Lockhart, "The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks"
Tim Tharp, "The Spectacular Now"

--Carolyn Kellogg

Photo credits: Rachel Kushner, Simon & Schuster; Joan Wickersham by Thomas Wickersham