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National Book Award Finalists Announced

  • Associated Press

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates speaks at the 2015 New Yorker Festival.

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates speaks at the 2015 New Yorker Festival.

Ta-Nehisi Coates' best-selling “Between the World and Me" and Hanya Yanagihara's sleeper hit “A Little Life" are among the works on the shortlist for the National Book Awards.

Lauren Groff's acclaimed novel about marriage, “Fates and Furies," and photographer Sally Mann's memoir “Still Life," were other finalists announced Wednesday by the National Book Foundation, the nonprofit organization that presents the awards.

Winners in each of the four competitive categories - fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature - will be announced at a Nov. 18 ceremony in Manhattan, hosted by humorist Andy Borowitz. Don DeLillo and James Patterson will receive honorary prizes.

The awards will be a showcase for numerous younger writers, from the 40-year-old Coates to the 37-year-old Groff to 23-year-old cartoonist Noelle Stevenson, a finalist in young people's literature.

Longlists of 10 for the National Book Awards were released last month, with judges on Wednesday narrowing the number in each category to five. A total of 1,428 books was submitted to the judging panels, which consist of authors, critics, booksellers and others in the publishing community willing to set aside weeks and even months to read through the nominated material.

Winning authors each receive $10,000 and a bronze statue.

Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, recently received a MacArthur “genius grant," and his emotional and despairing letter to his teenage son about race and police violence has been one of the year's most talked-about books.

Other nonfiction nominees for the National Book Award are Sy Montgomery's “The Soul of an Octopus," Carla Power's “If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran" and poet Tracy K. Smith's memoir “Ordinary Light."

Besides “Fates and Furies" and “A Little Life," a 700-page novel that follows the lives of four men, fiction nominees include two short story collections, Karen Bender's “Refund" and Adam Johnson's “Fortune Smiles." Also cited in fiction was Angela Flournoy's “The Turner House."

The poetry finalists are Ross Gay's “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude," Terrance Hayes' “How to Be Drawn," Robin Coste Lewis' “Voyage of the Sable Venus," Ada Limon's “Bright Dead Things" and Patrick Phillips' “Elegy for a Broken Machine."

Nominees for young people's literature are Ali Benjamin's “The Thing About Jellyfish," Laura Ruby's “Bone Gap," Steve Sheinkin's “Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War," Neal Shusterman's “Challenger Deep" and Stevenson's “Nimona."

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