2012 National Book Award Finalists Announced (With Excerpts and Bonus Links)

October 10, 2012 | 15 books mentioned 10

Award season is in full swing, and this year’s National Book Award finalists have just been announced on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”. After two years in a row of the fiction finalists numbering four women versus one male author, the gender count is reversed this time. The list also includes some very well-known names (Junot Dí­az, fresh off his Genius Grant, is a previous Pulitzer winner; Dave Eggers is a former Pulitzer finalist; and Louse Erdrich is a former NBCC Award winner). This is something of a departure from the more obscure focus of recent years.

In nonfiction, Anthony Shadid got a posthumous nod after he dies while reporting from Syria.

Here’s a list of the finalists in all four categories with bonus links and excerpts where available:







Young People’s Literature:


created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.


  1. This is How You Lose Her came out less than a month ago and it’s already being considered? Can’t imagine why this award is losing its prestige.

  2. In recent years, the National has been nominating more and more small press books and books by new writers — this is an extremely middle-of-the-road bestseller oriented list of fiction nominees. Heck, I’ve read three of the five and have the other two on my to-be-read pile. Often, I haven’t heard of the majority of nominees. Not sure what this means, other than it looks more like a list of Pulitzer finalists.

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  4. The Round House and The Yellow Birds were also published in the last month — Birds is reviewed this week on the cover of the NYRBR. The fiction list looks like what one would glean from a visit last week to the new books table at an independent bookstore. It saves time, anyway.

  5. Thor, What Michelle said. There’s a deadline by which the book need be submitted, not a deadline by which it needs to be on a table for sale.

    Also, Thor: we’re awarding you a National Book Award. Now has it “lost its prestige.” Give me a break.

    I think this list is great: Fountain, Diaz, and Powers have written books that will be remembered in 25 years. I particularly like that they didn’t go for the We’re Going to Nominate Books You SHOULD Have Heard About list. Because I honestly can’t remember any of the small press books from previous years, even the ones I read.

    Plus it’s the NBA 2012…I’m not sure why books from October should be excluded…

  6. I have read “The Round House”, “The Yellow Birds”, “This is How You Lose Her”, and “A Hologram for the King”.

    I would have given the award to “A Hologram for the King” which was far superior to the rest.

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