2011 National Book Award Finalists

Finalists for the National Book Awards were announced yesterday. Winners will be announced at The National Book Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, November 16, 2011, in New York City. It will be hosted by actor, and author, John Lithgow.

In fiction, it’s no surprise that the most celebrated literary debut of the year and the Orange Prize winner, Téa Obreht ‘s The Tiger’s Wife is a finalist. Other celebrated literary novels, Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding and Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot did not make the cut, however.

The judges also included a book from a small press startup, Lookout Press. Last year, they sent libraries (as well as the book’s publisher) scrambling when Jaimy Gordon won for Lord of Misrule, from tiny press, McPherson & Co. Lookout, launched in January, is an imprint of the Creative Writing Program at University of North Carolina Wilmington.

  • Andrew Krivak —  The Sojourn — Bellevue Literary Press
  • Téa Obreht — The Tiger’s Wife — Random House
  • Julie Otsuka — The Buddha in the Attic — Knopf
  • Edith Pearlman — Binocular Vision —Lookout
  • Jesmyn Ward —Salvage the Bones — Bloomsbury USA
Among the nonfiction contenders are Stephen Greenblatt’s recently released bestseller, The Swerve and a graphic format title, Radioactive, by Lauren Redniss (marking the first time that a book in this format has received a nomination in this category. The Wall Street Journal interviews the author about the recognition). Historian Manning Marable receives posthumous recognition for his biography of Malcolm X

Non Fiction

  • Deborah Baker — The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism — Graywolf Press
  • Mary Gabriel — Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution   — Little, Brown
  • Stephen Greenblatt — The Swerve: How the World Became Modern  — W.W. Norton
  • Manning Marable —  Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention — Viking
  • Lauren Redniss — Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout   — It: HarperCollins

Young People’s Literature

The field was expanded to six titles this year, after a miscommunication. Chime by Franny Billingsley was supposed to be announced, but the sound alike  Shine by Lauren Myracle was announced instead [note: we reversed the two titles in the original version of this post; thanks to Anna for the correction!]. The judges decided to include both titles, but then reversed that decision.

  • Debby Dahl Edwardson  – My Name is Not Easy – Marshall Cavendish
  • Thanhha Lai – Inside Out & Back Again – Harper/HarperCollins
  • Albert Marrin –  Flesh & Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy – Alfred A. Knopf
  • Lauren Myracle –  Shine – Amulet/Abrams
  • Gary D. Schmidt  – Okay for Now – Clarion/HMH
  • Franny Billingsley – Chime – Dial Books


  • Nikky Finney — Head Off & Split —  Triquarterly/Northwestern Universty
  • Yusef Komunyakaa — The Chameleon Couch — FSG
  • Carl Phillips — Double Shadow  — FSG
  • Adrienne Rich — Tonight No Poetry Will Serve — W.W. Norton & Company
  • Bruce Smith — Devotions  — University of Chicago Press

3 Responses to “2011 National Book Award Finalists”

  1. Anna Says:

    Hi–you’ve got the situation reversed in the children’s category–they announced Shine in error; Chime was the book that was intended to be nominated.

  2. Nora Rawlinson Says:

    Thanks for the correction — I’ve updated the post with the correct info.

  3. Snapshot – 2011 National Book Award Finalists | Lia Lexis Says:

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