Thursday, October 16, 2003

Book nominees have never won

National Awards offer some surprises

By Hillel Italie
The Associated Press

Shirley Hazzard

Patience has been rewarded by National Book Award judges.

Shirley Hazzard and Edward P. Jones, both of whom needed more than a decade to complete their current novels, are among this year's nominees.

Other fiction finalists announced Wednesday include T. Coraghessan Boyle's Drop City and Marianne Wiggins' Evidence of Things Unseen. It was the first nomination for both writers, despite more than 20 books combined.

None of the 20 finalists, five each in four separate categories, has ever received a National Book Award. The winners will be announced Nov. 19.

Among the high-profile novelists who did not receive nominations: Nobel laureate Toni Morrison for Love, Jhumpa Lahiri for The Namesake and Jonathan Lethem for The Fortress of Solitude.

Hazzard was cited for The Great Fire, a romance set right after World War II and the author's first fiction work since the beloved The Transit of Venus, published in 1980. Jones was nominated for The Known World, a historical novel about a black slave owner and his first book since 1992.

Scott Spencer, nominated for his novel, A Ship Made of Paper, shares with Hazzard the rare status of being cited twice for the same book. In the early 1980s, when the awards had separate categories for hardcovers and paperbacks, Hazzard received two nominations for Transit of Venus and Spencer two for Endless Love.

This year's nonfiction nominees include Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, a best seller set around the 1893 Chicago's World Fair, and John D'Emilio's Lost Prophet, a biography of civil rights leader Bayard Rustin.

Other nonfiction finalists are Carlos Eire's Waiting for Snow in Havana, a memoir of Cuba in the 1950s, George Howe Colt's The Big House, which traces history through a family summer home, and Anne Applebaum's Gulag: A History.

Eighty-year-old poet Louis Simpson, a four-time finalist first cited in 1964, was nominated for the anthology The Owner of the House.

Other poetry finalists include three-time nominee Charles Simic for The Voice at 3 A.M., two-time nominee C.K. Williams for The Singing, Kevin Young's Jelly Roll and Carol Muske-Dukes' Sparrow.

The awards are sponsored by the National Book Foundation. Winners receive $10,000, finalists $1,000.

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