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Los Angeles Times announces 2008 book prize nominees

March 2, 2009 | 11:30 am


Today the Los Angeles Times Book Prize nominees and Kirsch Award winner were announced. All awards will be presented in a ceremony on April 24, kicking off the L.A. Times Festival of Books.

Robert Alter, the author of 22 acclaimed works on the Bible, literary modernism and contemporary Hebrew literature will be the 29th recipient of the Kirsch Award. A professor at UC Berkeley, Alter began writing about the Bible as literature in the 1970s as a side project, but, he told the Boston Globe in 2007, "I found the intrinsic literary and intellectual interest of the biblical stories and poems so compelling that I've kept working at it ever since."

There are nine competitive award categories — biography, current interest, fiction, the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, history, mystery/thriller, poetry, science and technology, young adult — each with five nominees. The nominees include those that were in the running for other awards, including the Booker and the National Book Award, as well as some that are making their awards-list debut. The complete list of the 45 nominees for the L.A. Times Book Prizes are after the jump.

H.W. Brands, "A Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt"
Ernest Freeberg, "Democracy's Prisoner: Eugene V. Debs, the Great War, and the Right to Dissent"
Paula J. Giddings, "Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching"
Jon Meacham, "American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House"
Jackie Wullschlager, "Chagall: A Biography"

Current Interest:
Steve Coll, "The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century"
Dexter Filkins, "The Forever War"
Barton Gellman, "Angler:  The Cheney Vice Presidency"
Jane Mayer, "The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals"
Jill Bolte Taylor, "My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey"

Sebastian Barry, "The Secret Scripture"
Richard Price, "Lush Life"
Marilynne Robinson, "Home"
Joan Silber, "The Size of the World"
Marisa Silver, "The God of War"

Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction:
Uwem Akpan, "Say You're One of Them"
Zoe Ferraris, "Finding Nouf"
Sadie Jones, "The Outcast"
Roma Tearne, "Mosquito"
David Wroblewski, "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle"

Michael Dobbs, "One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War"
Drew Gilpin Faust, "This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War"
Mark Mazower, "Hitler's Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe"
Thomas J. Sugrue, "Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North"
Rick Wartzman, "Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath"

Colin Harrison, "The Finder"
Michael Koryta, "Envy the Night"
Simon Lewis, "Bad Traffic: An Inspector Jian Novel"
Nina Revoyr, "The Age of Dreaming"
Tom Rob Smith, "Child 44"

Frank Bidart, "Watching the Spring Festival: Poems"
Jorie Graham, "Sea Change: Poems"
Marie Howe, "The Kingdom of Ordinary Time: Poems"
Cole Swensen, "Ours"
Connie Voisine, "Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream"

Science & Technology:
Avery Gilbert, "What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life"
Kenneth R. Miller, "Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul"
Martin J.S. Rudwick, "Worlds Before Adam: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Reform"
Leonard Susskind, "The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics"
Carl Zimmer, "Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life"

Young Adult Literature:
Candace Fleming, "The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary"
Neil Gaiman, "The Graveyard Book"
Oscar Hijuelos, "Dark Dude"
Nate Powell, "Swallow Me Whole"
Terry Pratchett, "Nation"

— Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Ceiling at UCLA. The Festival of Books will be held at the campus. Credit: Carolyn Kellogg