2013 National Book Award Shortlists Released

October 16, 2013 | 15 books mentioned 4 2 min read

The contenders for the 2013 National Book Award were pared down to a five nominees in each category today. Winners will be announced in New York City on November 20.

Fans of Jhumpa Lahiri will be excited to know that after missing out on yesterday’s Man Booker Prize, the Lowland author is still squarely in the running for the National Book Award. Of course, in order to attain the honor she’s going to have to beat out former Millions Top Ten member George Saunders and Millions favorite Rachel Kushner – as well as previous NBA winner Thomas Pynchon. On the nonfiction list, Millions readers should recognize George Packer’s The Unwinding, which Chris Barsanti called an “awe-inspiring X-Ray of the modern American soul.”

At the final awards ceremony on November 20, each finalist will receive $1,000, and each winner will receive an additional $10,000. Additional awards will also be goven to E.L. Doctorow and Maya Angelou, who will be receiving the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the Literarian Award for Outstanding Contribution to the American Literary Community, respectively. The National Book Foundation has also announced that free e-books will be released containing excerpts from each of the works on the shortlist. (We’ll have more on that when it’s available.) Edit: The new e-books are now available for the Fiction Finalists, Nonfiction Finalists, Poetry Finalists, and Young People’s Literature Finalists. (E-books for other platforms are available here.)

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







Young People’s Literature:


This is the byline used for site announcements and for articles by more than one Millions contributor.


  1. Strong list in fiction, but personally I think it’s an epic fail that THE WOMAN WHO LOST HER SOUL by Bob Shacochis isn’t included. That is one fantastic, important and relevant novel….

  2. I haven’t read any of these books or these authors but I would like to. Thanks for sharing, I have been wanting to read Lahiri’s novels for awhile.

  3. I only read George Saunders’ Tenth of December from this list. I don’t recall any of the stories really gripping me the way that a short story by Flannery O’ Connor would grip me and stay with me forever. Saunders is an interesting fellow, writing from the have nots perspective and the minds of corporate middle managers. This is a useful and relevant perspective today, and a much needed Point of View. He made an interesting graduation speech at a University I cannot recall, much in the same vein as David Foster Wallace’s graduation speech. I’m a fan of Pynchon, but reluctant to read the Bleeding Edge until I make my way through Against the Day and Mason & Dixon, which keep getting pushed to the middle of my reading queue. I’ve never read Jhumpa Lahiri and don’t think that I ever will because I don’t care about the experiences of Indians trying to assimilate in the West. This list overall, seems frightfully tame.

Add Your Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.