How thrilling it must be to be an author, or a publisher, watching the announcement of the National Book Awards short list live-streamed on the Web. (You can watch it here, though it's no longer live.) Watch while Sallie Tisdale picks up a book wrapped in bright blue paper and slowly slides it out. Peer at the cover on the Web, trying to figure out if it's yours... And in the case of Graywolf Press, it was!
Graywolf Press of Minneapolis is among the finalists with Deborah Baker's "The Convert," (you can read the Strib review here), the biography of a Jewish woman who converts to the Muslim faith.
The fiction nominees were announced by Charles Johnson, who slid a lime-green cover off of each volume as he revealed the finalists.There were surprises; there always are, with the National Book Awards. A nonfiction finalist, a biography of the Curies, is a graphic book. Edith Pearlman's short story collection, "Binocular Vision," published by Lookout Books, such an obscure publisher (affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington) that Johnson stumbled over the name.
The other nonfiction finalists are:
Mary Gabriel for "Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution."
Stephen Greenblatt, "The Swerve: How the World Became Modern."
Lauren Redniss: "Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, a Tale of Love and Fallout," the first graphic book to be nominated in nonfiction.
Manning Marable, "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention," published just days after the author's death.
Fiction finalists (click on the title to read the Star Tribune review):
Julie Otsuka, "The Buddha in the Attic."
Jesmyn Ward, "Salvage the Bones."
Andrew Krivak, "The Sojourn."
Edith Pearlman, "Binocular Vision."
Tea Obrecht, "The Tiger's Wife."
Nikky Finney, "Head Off & Split."
Yusef Komunyakaa, "The Chameleon Couch."
Carl Phillips, "Double Shadow."
Adrienne Rich, "Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-2010."
Bruce Smith, "Devotions."
Young people's literature:
Debby Dahl Edwardson, "My Name is Not Easy."
Thanhha Lai, "Inside Out and Back Again."
Albert Marrin: "Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and its Legacy."
Lauren Myracle, "Shine."
Gary D. Schmidt, "Okay for Now."
And Franny Billingsley, for "Chimed." This title was not announced at the same time as the others, but was added later.
The winners will be announced Nov. 16 in New York. They will each receive $10,000.