Fiction writers Junot Diaz and Dave Eggers are among the finalists announced Wednesday for the National Book Awards, the prestigious U.S. awards for literature.
Other nominees including veteran writers Louise Erdrich, Robert Caro and the late Anthony Shadid, the veteran Middle East correspondent and New York Times journalist who died of an asthma attack earlier this year while covering the conflict in Syria.
In recent years, the National Book Foundation has overlooked high-profile books such as Jonathan Franzen's Freedom in favour of more obscure titles, like last year’s winner Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones. However, this year’s picks include some of the most-talked about literary works of 2012.
Diaz, who received a Pulitzer Prize for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, has received critical acclaim for This is How You Lose Her, his prickly collection of short stories about love. The Dominican-American writer and editor of the Boston Review puts the immigrant experience at the centre of his writing.
Eggers, who had a bestseller with his debut A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, is back on the radar for his ambitious seventh book A Hologram for the King. It attempts to show how globalization is shaping America through the story of a consultant who is trying sell a teleconferencing system to an Arab king.
The remaining fiction nominees are:
- The Round House by Louise Erdrich.
- Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain.
- The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers.
Both Halftime Walk and The Yellow Birds deal with the American military engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Passage of Power, nominated in the non-fiction category, is the fourth of Caro’s planned five-volume biography of former president Lyndon Johnson. Caro is a double winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his celebrated biographies of prominent Americans.
Shadid's final book, House of Stone, is a memoir of growing up in Lebanon. The remaining non-fiction nominees are:
- Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956 by Anne Applebaum.
- Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo.
- The Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez.
In the poetry categories, the nominees are:
- Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations by David Ferry.
- Heavenly Bodies by Cynthia Huntington.
- Fast Animal by Tim Seibles.
- Night of the Republic by Allan Shapiro.
- Meme by Susan Wheeler.
The nominees for young people's literature are:
- Goblin Secrets by William Alexander.
- Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos.
- Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick.
- Endangered by Eliot Schrefer.
- Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin.
Judges chose the nominees from nearly 1,300 submissions, including 479 nonfiction works and 311 for fiction. The winners, who receive $10,000 US each, will be named Nov. 14 in New York.