2011 National Book Award Finalists Announced*

October 12, 2011

This year, 1,223 books were submitted for the National Book Awards:

  • Fiction – 315
  • Nonfiction – 441
  • Poetry – 189
  • Young People’s Literature (YPL) – 278

Today the 26 finalists were revealed! Usually there are five named in each genre, but this time there are six in the YPL category due to a “miscommunication” during the announcement. According to Harold Augebraum, Executive Director of the Foundation, “we could have taken one of the books away to keep it five, but we decided that it was better to add a sixth one as an exception, because they’re all good books.”

*Update October 17, 2011:

Lauren Myracle, author of Shine, was asked and consented to withdraw as a nominee (thanks to Brian W. in the Children’s Room for passing on this article).

The finalists are…


Andrew Krivak, The Sojourn
(Bellevue Literary Press)

Téa Obreht, The Tiger’s Wife
(Random House)

Julie Otsuka, The Buddha in the Attic
(Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House)

Edith Pearlman, Binocular Vision
(Lookout Books, an imprint of the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington)

Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
(Bloomsbury USA)


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 and Company)

Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
(W. W. Norton & Company)

Manning Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention
(Viking Press, an imprint of Penguin Group USA)

Lauren Redniss, Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout
(It Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)


Nikky Finney, Head Off & Split
(TriQuarterly, an imprint of Northwestern University Press)

Yusef Komunyakaa, The Chameleon Couch
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Carl Phillips, Double Shadow
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Adrienne Rich, Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-2010
(W.W. Norton & Company)

Bruce Smith, Devotions
(University of Chicago Press)

Young People’s Literature:

Franny Billingsley, Chime
(Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, Inc. )

Debby Dahl Edwardson, My Name Is Not Easy
(Marshall Cavendish)

Thanhha Lai, Inside Out and Back Again
(Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)

Albert Marrin, Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy
(Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

Lauren Myracle, Shine
(Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS)

Gary D. Schmidt, Okay for Now
(Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) 

The winners will be announced at the 62nd annual National Book Awards Ceremony on November 16th, to be hosted by John Lithgow. Every finalist receives $1,000; each winner will be awarded $10,000. Poet John Ashbery will be presented with the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. The Literarian Award for Outstanding Contribution to the American Literary Community will be given to Mitchell Kaplan, co-founder of the Miami Book Fair International.

 ~ Olivia (Reader’s Services)


Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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