Explore 2010's National Book Award Finalists

Oct 18, 2010

Since 1950, the National Book Awards have recognized American authors for outstanding literary achievement. Last week, finalists for the 2010 awards were released. Take a look to see whether any of your favorite reads from the last year are represented. You might also find some titles to add to your reading list.

National Book Foundation

The Book Industry's Academy Awards

The National Book Awards in the publishing industry are basically equivalent to Hollywood's Academy Awards, Tinseltown's annual fete recognizing excellence in filmmaking. While perhaps a lower-profile crowd, authors and publishers are no less covetous of having their books selected as winners.

According to the National Book Foundation, the nonprofit that gives out the awards, these are our nation's 'preeminent literary prizes' and the dinner ceremony honoring winners is 'the most important event on our literary calendar.'

National Book Awards

Book Awards with Benefits

While recognition of books is certainly nice in its own right, other benefits accompany winning a National Book Award. Authors receive a $10,000 prize and a crystal statue, as well as the expectation of a big increase in book sales. For this reason, authors and publishers alike look forward to the day when they can add the gold medallion of the National Book Awards to their book covers.

Even titles that don't win but are finalists typically experience a bump in sales. Just as film aficionados must see all of the nominees for Best Picture before the Oscars, bookworms throughout the nation want to make sure they've read books in a favorite genre before the winners are announced.

National Book Awards

An Award Determined by Peers

National Book Awards are awarded in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature. Winning authors in these four areas are chosen by independent judging panels. These panels are typically made of fellow writers who have published works in the respective categories. In this sense, the National Book Awards are viewed as recognition from peers, rather than the reading public.

Winners of the National Book Awards will be announced on Wednesday, November 17th. Get together some of your closest book-loving friends for a viewing party, and don't forget to check out some of the book finalists before the big night.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 National Book Award Finalists:

Fiction

Peter Carey, Parrot and Olivier in America

Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule

Nicole Krauss, Great House

Lionel Shriver, So Much for That

Karen Tei Yamashita, I Hotel

Nonfiction

Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

John W. Dower, Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, Iraq

Patti Smith, Just Kids

Justin Spring, Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward

Megan K. Stack, Every Man in This Village Is a Liar: An Education in War

Poetry

Kathleen Graber, The Eternal City

Terrance Hayes, Lighthead

James Richardson, By the Numbers

C.D. Wright, One with Others

Monica Youn, Ignatz

Young People's Literature

Paolo Bacigalupi, Ship Breaker

Kathryn Erskine, Mockingbird

Laura McNeal, Dark Water

Walter Dean Myers, Lockdown

Rita Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer


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