NEW YORK (AP) — Kate DiCamillo and David Levithan were among the 10 authors who made the first-ever long-list of finalists for the National Book Awards, part of a new nominating process that prize organizers hope will lead to increased attention and sales.
DiCamillo and Levithan were nominees in the Young People’s Literature category, announced Monday by the National Book Foundation, which presents the awards. Over the next three days, 10 finalists will be announced for each of the remaining three competitive categories — poetry, nonfiction and fiction. On Oct. 16, the nominees will be narrowed to five for each category. The winners, each of whom receive $10,000, will be revealed at a Nov. 20 dinner and ceremony in New York City.
Earlier this month, the book foundation announced that E.L. Doctorow and Maya Angelou would receive honorary awards.
Publishers, some of whom sit on the book foundation’s board and contribute thousands of dollars for tables at the ceremony, have worried in recent years that judges — especially fiction judges — have been overlooking such high-profile books as Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom” in favor of more obscure releases. Anxious for the National Book Awards to match, or least approach, the commercial power of Britain’s Man Booker Prize, the board added long-lists and expanded the pool of judges. The awards had long been voted on by panels of fellow writers, but judges this year also come from the bookselling, journalism and library communities.
The young people’s category features several nominees who have won prizes before, including three former National Book Award nominees and two winners of the Newbery Medal. One finalist, Gene Luen Yang’s “Boxers & Saints,” is a two-volume graphic novel. In 2006, his “American Born Chinese” became the first graphic novel to receive a National Book Award nomination.
DiCamillo, best known for her Newbery-winning “The Tale of Despereaux,” was nominated for “Flora & Ulysses.” Kadohata, a Newbery winner for “Kira-Kira,” was cited for “The Thing About Luck.” Levithan, a popular author and a vice president and editorial director at Scholastic Inc., was a finalist for “Two Boys Kissing.”
The other nominees included Kathi Appelt’s “The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp,” Lisa Graff’s “A Tangle of Knots,” Alaya Dawn Johnson’s “The Summer Prince” and Tom McNeal’s “Far Far Away.” Also on the long-list: Meg Rosoff’s “Picture Me Gone” and Anne Ursu’s “The Real Boy.”
McNeal’s wife, Laura McNeal, was a finalist in 2010 for “Dark Water.”