American conflicts -- from the Civil War to the war on terror -- dominated the nonfiction finalists for the National Book Awards, which were announced on Wednesday.
”The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals,” a chronicle of the Bush administration in the post-9/11 era by Jane Mayer, a staff writer for The New Yorker, was joined by Drew Gilpin Faust’s ”This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War,” a historical account of that war’s immense toll; Annette Gordon-Reed’s ”Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family,” a biography of the slave family owned by Thomas Jefferson; and Jim Sheeler’s ”Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives,” adapted from his Pulitzer Prize-winning work in The Rocky Mountain News about soldiers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The category was rounded out by Joan Wickersham’s memoir ”The Suicide Index: Putting My Father’s Death in Order.”
Finalists in the fiction category offered a mixture of veterans and new authors. The five nominees include ”Home,” the third novel by Marilynne Robinson, a Pulitzer Prize winner for her 2004 novel ”Gilead”; ”Shadow Country,” by Peter Matthiessen, a founder of The Paris Review and a National Book Award winner in 1979 for his nonfiction work ”The Snow Leopard”; and ”The Lazarus Project,” by the Bosnian author Aleksandar Hemon. They are joined by Rachel Kushner’s debut novel, ”Telex From Cuba,” and ”The End,” a first novel by Salvatore Scibona, published by the independent house Graywolf Press.
Among the fiction that received critical acclaim this year but did not receive a nomination was Joseph O’Neill’s ”Netherland.” In the nonfiction category ”Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency,” by Barton Gellman, a reporter for The Washington Post, and ”The Forever War,” by Dexter Filkins, a correspondent for The New York Times, were both well regarded but did not receive nominations.
The poetry nominees are ”Watching the Spring Festival” by Frank Bidart; ”Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems” by Mark Doty; ”Creatures of a Day” by Reginald Gibbons; ”Without Saying” by Richard Howard; and ”Blood Dazzler” by Patricia Smith.
The nominees for young people’s literature are ”Chains” by Laurie Halse Anderson; ”The Underneath” by Kathi Appelt; ”What I Saw and How I Lied” by Judy Blundell; ”The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks” by E. Lockhart; and ”The Spectacular Now” by Tim Tharp.
Winners in each category will be announced at a ceremony on Nov. 19 in New York.
©2008/THE NEW YORK TIMES