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‘Genius’ Diaz, Iraq Fiction Join Book Award Nominees

Ben Fountain
Ben Fountain, author of “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” won the National Book Critics Circle's 2012 award for fiction. Source: Harper Collins via Bloomberg

“The Passage of Power,” the fourth volume of Robert Caro’s monumental biography of Lyndon Johnson (Knopf), is among the nominees for the National Book Awards announced today. One of the previous installments won the award, and another was nominated.

Also named in the nonfiction category is “House of Stone” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), a memoir by journalist Anthony Shadid about his family’s ancestral home in Lebanon. Shadid died of an asthma attack while reporting from Syria last February, shortly before the book was published.

The other nonfiction nominees are “Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956,” by Anne Applebaum (Doubleday); “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity” by Katherine Boo (Random House); and “The Boy Kings of Texas” by Domingo Martinez (Lyons Press), a memoir about growing up in a south Texas border town.

The fiction category includes two novels focusing on the war in Iraq.

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” by Ben Fountain (Ecco) tells the story of a squad of U.S. soldiers who appear at a Dallas Cowboys game after becoming famous for winning a bloody firefight with Iraqi insurgents.

“The Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers (Little, Brown) is about two young soldiers trying to protect each other on the battlefield.

Junot Diaz, who was recently awarded a “genius” grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is nominated for his second book of short stories, “This Is How You Lose Her” (Riverhead).

The other fiction nominees are Louise Erdrich for “The Round House” (Harper) and Dave Eggers for “A Hologram for the King” (McSweeney’s).

Poetry Nominees

The nominees in poetry are David Ferry’s “Bewilderment” (University of Chicago Press); Cynthia Huntington’s “Heavenly Bodies” (Southern Illinois University Press); Tim Seibles’s “Fast Animal” (Etruscan Press); Alan Shapiro’s “Night of the Republic” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); and Susan Wheeler’s “Meme” (University of Iowa Press).

The Young People’s Literature nominees are William Alexander’s “Goblin Secrets” (Margaret K. McElderry Books); Carrie Arcos’s “Out of Reach” (Simon Pulse); Patricia McCormick’s “Never Fall Down” (Balzer & Bray); Eliot Schrefer’s “Endangered” (Scholastic); and Steve Sheinkin’s “Bomb: The Race to Build -- and Steal -- the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon” (Flash Point).

Winners receive a bronze sculpture and $10,000, while nominees receive a medal and $1,000.

Elmore Leonard

The winners will be announced on Nov. 14 in New York, at a benefit for the National Book Foundation at Cipriani Wall Street. Novelist Elmore Leonard will receive the 2012 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, to be presented by Martin Amis.

The Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community will be given to Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., chairman and publisher of the New York Times.

Muse highlights include Mark Beech on art, Craig Seligman on movies and Patrick Cole on philanthropy.

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