What’s Your Take on the National Book Award Shortlists?

Amanda Nelson

Staff Writer

Amanda Nelson is an Executive Director of Book Riot. She lives in Richmond, VA.

Amanda Nelson

Staff Writer

Amanda Nelson is an Executive Director of Book Riot. She lives in Richmond, VA.

The finalists for the 2012 National Book Awards were announced this morning. The National Book Award celebrates American works (obviously) in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and YA. Once the list was announced, there was a notable lack of righteous anger. Could this be a list of finalist on which everyone agrees? The finalists are:

Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her (Riverhead)

Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King (McSweeney’s)

Louise Erdrich, The Round House (Harper)

Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ecco)

Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds (Little, Brown)


Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956 (Doubleday)

Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (Random House)

Robert A. Caro, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4 (Knopf)

Domingo Martinez, The Boy Kings of Texas (Lyons Press)

Anthony Shadid, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

William Alexander, Goblin Secrets (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

Carrie Arcos, Out of Reach (Simon Pulse)

Patricia McCormick, Never Fall Down (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)

Eliot Schrefer, Endangered (Scholastic)

Steve Sheinkin; Bomb: The Race to Build―and Steal―the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon (Flash Point)

David Ferry, Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations (University of Chicago Press)

Cynthia Huntington, Heavenly Bodies (Southern Illinois University Press)

Tim Seibles, Fast Animal (Etruscan Press)

Alan Shapiro, Night of the Republic (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Susan Wheeler, Meme (University of Iowa Press)


I’m perplexed (and I’m not alone, judging by the buzz on Twitter) at the omission of Lauren Groff’s Arcadia, and that Dave Eggers is included. Other than those two head-scratchers, the fiction list doesn’t have many surprises- all the books included have been heavily praised.

So, who are you rooting for? My money is on This Is How You Lose Her. It seems to be Junot’s year- after all, he was just officially crowned a genius. Do you see any glaring omissions?