National Book Awards: Junot Díaz, Dave Eggers, Robert Caro Among Finalists

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Tsar Fedorsky for Home Front Communications / John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Tsar Fedorsky for Home Front Communications / John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Author Junot Diaz, 2012 MacArthur award recipient, on September 20, 2012 in Cambridge, Mass.

The 20 finalists for the 2012 National Book Awards were named this morning by David Steinberger, chairman of the board of the National Book Foundation. The winners in each of the four categories (fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature) will be announced on Nov. 14 at a ceremony in New York City; each winner receives $10,000. The other finalists will go home with $1,000 in consolation money—and super bragging rights: each of the books submitted by publishers for consideration this year had a roughly two percent chance of being selected as a finalist by the confidential judging panel.

  • Junot Díaz, recently named a MacArthur “Genius,” is a finalist for fiction for This Is How You Lose Her.
  • Louise Erdrich is now a three-time National Book Award finalist, on the fiction list for The Round House.
  • Dave Eggers, a past recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Literarian Award, is a finalist for fiction for A Hologram for the King.
  • Ben Fountain is a finalist for fiction for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.
  • Kevin Powers, a first-time novelist, is a finalist for fiction for The Yellow Birds.

(MOREAuthor Junot Díaz Among 2012 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellows)

  • Katherine Boo, who has won a Pulitzer Prize for journalism, is a finalist for nonfiction for Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity.
  • Anne Applebaum, also a Pulitzer winner (for 2004’s Gulag: A History), is a finalist for nonfiction for Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944–1956.
  • Robert Caro, 2003 National Book Award Winner for The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate, is a finalist for the fourth time for nonfiction, this time for The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson.
  • Domingo Martinez is a finalist for nonfiction, for his debut memoir The Boy Kings of Texas.
  • Anthony Shadid, a New York Times foreign correspondent who died this year while reporting in Syria, is a finalist for nonfiction for House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East.

(MORE10 Questions for Robert Caro)

  • Tim Seibles is a finalist for poetry for Fast Animal.
  • David Ferry is a finalist for poetry for Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations.
  • Cynthia Huntington, former poet laureate of New Hampshire, is a finalist for poetry for Heavenly Bodies.
  • Alan Shapiro is a finalist for poetry for Night of the Republic.
  • Susan Wheeler, recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, is a finalist for poetry for Meme.

(MOREThe Chilling Truths Behind Patricia McCormick’s YA Novels)

  • William Alexander is a finalist for young people’s literature for his debut novel Goblin Secrets.
  • Carrie Arco is a finalist for young people’s literature for Out of Reach, her debut novel.
  • Patricia McCormick, a 2006 National Book Award finalist for Sold, is again a finalist for young people’s literature, for Never Fall Down.
  • Eliot Schrefer is a finalist for young people’s literature for Endangered.
  • Steve Sheinkin is a finalist for young people’s literature for his nonfiction book Bomb: The Race of Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon.

In addition, Elmore Leonard will also receive a medal for his contribution to American Letters and New York Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., will receive an award for contributions to the literary community.


There are at least two errors in the titles mentioned in this article. I choose not to check each and every entry.  Katherine Boo's book is "Behind the Beautiful Forevers", not "Beyond..." and Sheinkin's book is titled "Bomb: The Race TO Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon", not "...of...".  I find this sloppy editing disheartening.  I realize it costs money to have someone check for errors not captured by a computer, but when Publishing, and by association Communication, is your profession, I feel that providing correct information should be a higher priority at Time.




Why? Not of the popularity of the Oscars or Emmys but it really should be as we need to celebrate books and intellectualism more in this country. Frankly, I'm surprised the winners only get 10 grand. It has to be a lot more.


None of those writers are any good.


 Oh, that's what you meant. I strongly disagree. Haven't read Diaz save for one or two short stories, and I liked them. Caro is considered the top heap of historians. I've enjoyed Eggers work in the past. Erdrich's stuff is fantastic. I don't know the poetry people. Boo's India book received high praise. To each his own, I guess. If you are arguing that these are the cliched or standard choices, and that new talent is not recognized, that I could agree with.