NEW YORK – Gayle Jones’s lyrical short novel The Birdcatcher, about a writer’s trip to Ibiza and the gifted, unstable couple she stays with, is a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction.
The nonprofit National Book Foundation announced Tuesday the five finalists in each of the five competition categories — fiction, nonfiction, poetry, young people’s literature and books in translation — culled from 10 longlists last month.
Among the nominees is activist and former Olympic gold medalist Tommy Smith, a nominee for youth literature for “Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice,” co-authored with Derrick Barnes and Dawood Aniabwil. Sharon Olds, whose previous honors include the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, is a poetry finalist for The Ballad, and His Name is George Floyd by Robert Samuels and Toulouse Olorunipa is nominated in the nonfiction category.
Jones, author of the acclaimed Corregidor and six other previous works of fiction, is the best-known writer in the category, which includes three debut novels.
Among the nominees for books in translation are the 2018 winners Japanese writer Yoko Tawada and translator Margaret Mitsutani for the novel Scattered Across the Earth.
The winners, who will each receive $10,000, will be announced on November 16 at a dinner in Manhattan, the first in person since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Previously announced honorary awards will be presented to cartoonist Art Spiegelman and Tracy D. Hall, executive director of the American Library Association.
Nominees for each category are selected by five-person panels made up of authors, editors, booksellers and other members of the literary community. In total, publishers sent 1,772 works, including 607 non-fiction and 463 fiction.
Of the 25 books nominated on Tuesday, 10 were published by Penguin Random House — the nation’s largest trade publisher — and one by Simon & Schuster, which Penguin is trying to acquire. The US Department of Justice sued to block the merger, arguing that the new company would reduce competition and reduce author advances. A judge’s decision is expected this fall.
Among the fiction nominees, in addition to The Bird, are three literary debuts: The Rabbit Hole by Tess Gantz, It Could Be Different by Sarah Tankham Matthews and Babylon City by Alejandro Varela. Jamil Jan Kochai became a finalist for his second fiction book, Ghosts of Haji Hotak and Other Stories.
In non-fiction, the finalists are My Name is George Floyd, Meghan O’Rourke’s The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness, Imani Perry’s South to America: A Journey Below Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation, David Quaman’s Breathing : the scientific race to defeat a deadly virus” and Ingrid Rojas Contreras’ memoir The Man Who Could Move Clouds.”
Besides “Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice,” among the finalists for children’s literature are “The Ogress and the Orphans” by Kelly Barnhill, “The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School” by Sonora Reyes, “All My Rage” by Saba Tahir and “Maizy Chen’s Last” by Lisa Yi. A chance.”
Poetry finalists other than Balladz include Alison Adele Hedge Coke’s Look at This Blue, John Keane’s Punks, Roger Reeves’ Best Barbarian and Jenny C’s The Rupture Tense.
Along with Scattered Across the Earth in translated literature, a nominee is John Fosse’s The New Name: Septology VI-VII, translated from the Norwegian by Damion Searles. Other finalists: “Kibogo” by Scholastic Mukasongi, translated from French by Marco Polizzotti; “Jawbone” by Monica Ojeda, translated from Spanish by Sarah Booker; and Seven Empty Houses by Samantha Schweblin, translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell.
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