The selection of National Book Award finalists brings good news for "a young marine who served in Iraq, a cartoonist at The New Yorker, the co-founder of a small literary press and a foreign correspondent, among others," writes Ron Charles in The Washington Post.
Here are the five finalists in each category, with links to reviews, appreciations, and excerpts:
- Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman (Grove Press)
- Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See (Scribner)
- Phil Klay, Redeployment (The Penguin Press)
- Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (Alfred A. Knopf)
- Marilynne Robinson, Lila (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
- Roz Chast, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury)
- Anand Gopal, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes (Henry Holt)
- John Lahr, Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (W.W. Norton & Co.)
- Evan Osnos, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
- Edward O. Wilson, The Meaning of Human Existence (W.W. Norton & Co.)
- Louise Glück, Faithful and Virtuous Night (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
- Fanny Howe, Second Childhood (Graywolf Press)
- Maureen N. McLane, This Blue (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
- Fred Moten, The Feel Trio (Letter Machine Editions)
- Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press)
Young People's Literature:
- Eliot Schrefer, Threatened (Scholastic Press)
- Steve Sheinkin, The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights (Roaring Brook Press)
- John Corey Whaley, Noggin (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
- Deborah Wiles, Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two (Scholastic Press)
- Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen Books)
The titles delve into unsettling topics that we often turn away from, including war, racism and aging. But therein lies the comfort.
"Good writing gives shape to chaos," Gillie Collins observes in her review of finalist Phil Kay's Redeployment. "Stories have the power to make paradox survivable, useful, beautiful."
The winners will be announced on November 19 in New York City.