National Book Award Finalists Include Thomas Pynchon, Jhumpa Lahiri

Winners to be announced next month

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Finalists for one of America’s top literary awards have been whittled down from 40 to a star-studded list of 20 in the last round before winners are selected next month.

Among the finalists is Jhumpa Lahiri, who was bested by Eleanor Catton for the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday. George Saunders and reclusive novelist Thomas Pynchon also made the final cut, as did such heavyweights as The New Yorker’s George Packer, former National Book Award finalist Lawrence Wright and Pulitzer Prize-winner Alan Taylor.

The full list of finalists below:


Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)

James McBride, The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead Books/Penguin Group USA)

Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (The Penguin Press/Penguin Group USA)

George Saunders, Tenth of December (Random House)


Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)

Wendy Lower, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

George Packer, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (W.W. Norton & Company)

Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief
(Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)


Frank Bidart, Metaphysical Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Lucie Brock-Broido, Stay, Illusion (Alfred A. Knopf)

Adrian Matejka, The Big Smoke (Penguin Poets/Penguin Group USA)

Matt Rasmussen, Black Aperture (Louisiana State University Press)

Mary Szybist, Incarnadine: Poems (Graywolf Press)


Kathi Appelt, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)

Cynthia Kadohata, The Thing About Luck (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)

Tom McNeal, Far Far Away (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)

Meg Rosoff, Picture Me Gone (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Group USA)

Gene Luen Yang, Boxers & Saints (First Second/Macmillan)