Uncategorized | October 17, 2005

John Grisham stood on the porch of Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s former residence in Oxford, Mississippi, and announced this year’s finalists for the National Book Awards. Five finalists were announced in four categories: fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and young people’s literature. According the National Book Foundation, 1,195 books were nominated this year. Only publishers may nominate.

This year’s finalists in fiction include The March, by E.L. Doctorow (the only previous winner among this year’s finalists); Holy Skirts, by Ren Steinke; Europe Central, by William T. Vollmann; Trance, by Christopher Sorrentino; and Veronica, by Mary Gaitskill.

Joan Didion’s account of her husband John Gregory Dunne’s death and her daughter’s illness, The Year of Magical Thinking, is among the finalists in nonfiction. Others include 102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers, by New York Times reporters Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn; Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves, by Adam Hochschild; Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius, by Leo Damrosch; and Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion, by Alan Burdick.

Pulitzer Prizes winner W.S. Merwin (Migration) and John Ashbery (Where Shall I Wander) are nominated in the poetry division along with Frank Bidart (Star Dust: Poems), Brendan Galvin (Habitat: New and Selected Poems) and Vern Rutsala (The Moment’s Equation). Between them, Merwin and Ashbery have been nominated for twelve National Book Awards with Ashbery winning for Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.

In the young people’s category, finalists include Jeanne Birdsall, The Penderwicks; Walter Dean Myers, Autobiography of My Dead Brother; Adele Griffin, Where I Want to Be; Chris Lynch, Inexcusable; and Deborah Wiles, Each Little Bird that Sings.