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2012 National Book Award Finalists

In association with the National Book Foundation, Morning Joe is happy to announce the 2012 National Book Award Finalists.

In association with the National Book Foundation, Morning Joe is happy to announce the 2012 National Book Award Finalists.


Head of Fiction PanelLorrie Moore, author, most recently, A Gate at the Stairs


Junot DíazThis Is How You Lose HerRiverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.Diaz’s second collection of short stories featuring the alter ego “Yunior”, who as a boy and young man was the central character in his first collection “Drown”. His voice is distinctive, mixing popular and high culture, comic books and literature.

Dave EggersA Hologram for the KingMcSweeney’s Books

In a rising Saudi Arabian city, far from weary, recession-scarred America, a struggling businessman pursues a last-ditch attempt to stave off foreclosure, pay his daughter’s college tuition, and finally do something great, with mixed results.

Louise ErdrichThe Round HouseHarper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers

One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe.

Ben FountainBilly Lynn’s Long Halftime WalkEcco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers

After a ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents at "the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal"—three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew—has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America's most sought-after heroes, the Bush administration has sent them on a media-intensive nationwide Victory Tour to reinvigorate public support for the war, including being featured as part of the halftime show at a Dallas Cowboys game, alongside the superstar pop group Destiny's Child. First Novel

Kevin PowersThe Yellow BirdsLittle, Brown and Company

In Al Tafar, Iraq, twenty-one-year-old Private Bartle and eighteen-year-old Private Murphy cling to life as their platoon launches a bloody battle for the city. First Novel



Head of Nonfiction PanelWoody Holton, Professor of History, University of South Carolina, former NBA Finalist


Anne ApplebaumIron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956Doubleday

Iron Curtain describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete, how political parties, the church, the media, young people’s organizations―the institutions of civil society on every level―were eviscerated, how the secret police services were organized, how ethnic cleansing was carried out, and how some people were forced to collaborate while others managed to resist.

Katherine BooBehind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai UndercityRandom House

Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport. As India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope: Individual stories of courage set against the backdrop of tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy.

Robert A. CaroThe Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4Knopf

The fourth installment in Robert Caro’s monumental work on President Lyndon Johnson, The Passage of Power follows Johnson through both the most frustrating and the most triumphant periods of his career: 1958 to 1964

Domingo MartinezThe Boy Kings of TexasLyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press

Domingo Martinez lays bare his interior and exterior worlds as he struggles to make sense of the violent and the ugly, along with the beautiful and the loving, in a Texas border town in the 1980s. First Book

Anthony ShadidHouse of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle EastHoughton Mifflin Harcourt

In the spring of 2011, when Anthony Shadid—one of four New York Times reporters captured in Libya as the region erupted—was freed, he went to his ancestral home, Marjayoun, Lebanon…to an ancient estate built by his great-grandfather, a place filled with memories of a lost era when the Middle East was a world of grace, grandeur, and unexpected departures, and tells the story of the house’s re-creation, revealing its mysteries and recovering the lives that have passed through it. Shadid died on February 16, 2012 from an asthma attack while on assignment on the Syrian border.Poetry

Head of Poetry PanelLaura Kasischke, Chair (pronounced kuh-‘zish-key; winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry this year)


David FerryBewilderment: New Poems and TranslationsUniversity of Chicago Press

The passionate nature and originality of Ferry’s poems modulates beautifully between plainspoken high eloquence and colloquial vigor, making his distinctive speech one of the most interesting and ravishing achievements of the past half century

Cynthia HuntingtonHeavenly BodiesSouthern Illinois University Press

In this blistering collection of lyric poems, Cynthia Huntington gives an intimate view of the sexual revolution and rebellion in a time before the rise of feminism.

Tim SeiblesFast AnimalEtruscan Press

The newest collection from one of America’s foremost African-American poets threads the journey from youthful innocence to the whittled-hard awareness of adulthood

Alan ShapiroNight of the RepublicHoughton Mifflin Harcourt

In Night of the Republic, Alan Shapiro takes us on an unsettling night tour of America’s public places―a gas station restroom, a shoe store, a convention hall, and a race track, among other locations―and in stark, Edward Hopper-like imagery reveals the surreal and dreamlike features of these familiar but empty night spaces.

Susan WheelerMemeUniversity of Iowa Press

A meme is a unit of thought replicated by imitation. Occupy Wall Street is a meme, as are internet ideas and images that go viral. But what could be more potent memes than those passed down by parents to their children? Susan Wheeler reconstructs her mother’s voice—down to its cynicism and its mid-twentieth-century Midwestern vernacular—in “The Maud Poems,” a voice that takes a more aggressive, vituperative turn in “The Devil—or —The Introjects.”Young People’s Literature

Head of Young People’s Literature PanelGary D. Schmidt


William AlexanderGoblin SecretsMargaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Rownie, the youngest in Graba the witchworker's household of stray children, escapes and goes looking for his missing brother. Along the way he falls in with a troupe of theatrical goblins and learns the secret origins of masks.

Carrie ArcosOut of ReachSimon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Rachel has always idolized her older brother Micah. He struggles with addiction, but she tells herself that he’s in control. And she almost believes it. Until the night that Micah doesn’t come home.

Patricia McCormickNever Fall DownBalzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers

When the Khmer Rouge arrive at his hometown in Cambodia, Arn is just a kid, dancing to rock 'n' roll, hustling for spare change, and selling ice cream with his brother. But after the soldiers march the entire population into the countryside, Arn is separated from his family and assigned to a labor camp. One day, the soldiers ask if any of the kids can play an instrument. In order to survive, Arn must quickly master the strange revolutionary songs the soldiers demand. This will save his life, but it will also pull him into the very center of what we know today as the Killing Fields.

Eliot SchreferEndangeredScholastic

When Sophie has to visit her mother at her sanctuary for bonobos in Congo, she’s not thrilled to be there. It’s her mother’s passion, and Sophie doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. At least not until Otto, an infant bonobo, comes into her life, and for the first time she feels the bond a human can have with an animal.

Steve SheinkinBomb: The Race to Build―and Steal―the World’s Most Dangerous WeaponFlash Point, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press

In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned three continents. This is the story of the plotting, risk-taking, deceit, and genius that created the world's most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.