Established in 1936, the National Book Awards are a set of annual literary awards presented by the National Book Foundation. Awards are given to one book in four different categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature. The National Book Foundation also presents two lifetime achievement awards each year. Books can be nominated only by publishers. A panel of five writers “who are known to be doing great work in their genre or field” narrow the entries down to five finalists per category.
The awards recognize books written by a United States citizen and published in the US from December 1 to November 30. Past winners of the National Book Award for Fiction include The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Paris Trout by Pete Dexter, All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy and Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.
The finalists for 2012 were recently released. The awards will be presented in New York City on November 14, 2012. The nominees for Fiction are listed below (annotations provided by the National Book Foundation).
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
Diaz’s second collection of short stories featuring the alter ego “Yunior”, who as a boy and young man was the central character in his first collection “Drown”. His voice is distinctive, mixing popular and high culture, comic books and literature.
A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
In a rising Saudi Arabian city, far from weary, recession-scarred America, a struggling businessman pursues a last-ditch attempt to stave off foreclosure, pay his daughter’s college tuition, and finally do something great, with mixed results.
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
After a ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents at "the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal"—three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew—has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America's most sought-after heroes, the Bush administration has sent them on a media-intensive nationwide Victory Tour to reinvigorate public support for the war, including being featured as part of the halftime show at a Dallas Cowboys game, alongside the superstar pop group Destiny's Child.
The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year-old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city.