Franzen Novel Snubbed in List of National Book Award Finalists

The book jacket of "Parrot and Oliver in America." The book is by Peter Carey. Source: Faber via Bloomberg

Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) -- This year’s National Book Award finalists don’t include Jonathan Franzen, bestselling author of the widely praised, Oprah’s Book Club-endorsed novel, “Freedom.”

Among the fiction finalists is Peter Carey’s “Parrot and Olivier in America,” which was on the short list for the Man Booker Prize but lost to Howard Jacobson’s “The Finkler Question” last night. Others are Lionel Shriver’s “So Much for That,” the story of a man bled dry by his health-insurance company as his wife dies of cancer, and Nicole Krauss’s “Great House.”

The finalists for the nonfiction prize include Patti Smith’s memoir, “Just Kids,” and Barbara Demick’s “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea.”

In a year that saw the publication of many notable books about the financial crisis, including Joseph E. Stiglitz’s “Freefall” and Michael Lewis’s “The Big Short,” no business books received nominations.

The winners will be announced on Nov. 17 in New York at a benefit for the National Book Foundation hosted by comedian and writer Andy Borowitz.

Tom Wolfe will receive an award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Joan Ganz Cooney, a creator of “Sesame Street,” will receive the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.

     The complete list of finalists:
     Peter Carey, “Parrot and Olivier in America” (Knopf)
     Jaimy Gordon, “Lord of Misrule” (McPherson)
     Nicole Krauss, “Great House” (Norton)
     Lionel Shriver, “So Much for That” (Harper)
     Karen Tei Yamashita, “I Hotel” (Coffee House)

     Barbara Demick, “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North
Korea” (Spiegel & Grau)
     John W. Dower, “Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima,
9-11, Iraq” (Norton)
     Patti Smith, “Just Kids” (Ecco)
     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)

     Kathleen Graber, ‘‘The Eternal City’’ (Princeton)
     Terrance Hayes, ‘‘Lighthead’’ (Viking)
     James Richardson, ‘‘By the Numbers’’ (Copper Canyon)
     C. D. Wright, ‘‘One With Others’’ (Copper Canyon)
     Monica Youn, ‘‘Ignatz’’ (Four Way)

     Young People’s Literature:
     Paolo Bacigalupi, ‘‘Ship Breaker’’ (Little, Brown)
     Kathryn Erskine, ‘‘Mockingbird’’ (Philomel)
     Laura McNeal, ‘‘Dark Water’’ (Knopf)
     Walter Dean Myers, ‘‘Lockdown’’ (Amistad)
     Rita Williams-Garcia, ‘‘One Crazy Summer’’ (Amistad)

To contact the writer of this review: Laurie Muchnick in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at

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