So Much for Franzen: National Book Award Finalists Announced

The National Book Foundation has released its finalists for the National Book Award. Standouts in the fiction category include Peter Carey’s De Toqueville-inspired Parrot and Olivier in America, fresh on the heels of losing the Man Booker — which is, Salon explains today, the best prize — and 20-Under-40-ite Nicole Krauss’ Great House.

On the non-fiction side, there’s Patti Smith’s memoir of her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe, Just Kids and Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, which beat Too Big To Fail among others to win the BBC’s Samuel Johnson prize this summer.

Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is not on the list, which is either fine or curious depending on how you felt about the book. Just keep your eye on the (Pulitzer) prize, Mr. F!

Click here for the full list. Fiction and non-fiction shortlists below:


Fiction Judges: Andrei Codrescu, Samuel R. Delany, Sabina Murray,
Joanna Scott
, Carolyn See


  • Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea (Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group) 
  • John W. Dower, Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9-11, Iraq (W.W. Norton & Co.) 
  • Patti Smith, Just Kids (Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers) 
  • Justin Spring, Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) 
  • Megan K. Stack, Every Man in This Village Is a Liar: An Education in War (Doubleday)

Nonfiction Judges: Blake Bailey, Marjorie Garber, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Seth Lerer, Sallie Tisdale

  So Much for Franzen: National Book Award Finalists Announced