The 20 finalists for the 2012 National Book Awards include five debut works, two memoirs, and a short-story collection. Among the finalists are five Pulitzer Prize winners, two recipients of MacArthur ”genius” grants, one previous National Book Award Winner, three previous National Book Award Finalists, and a recipient of the National Book Foundation’s Literarian Award, one of the Foundation’s two lifetime achievement awards. In addition, six of the twenty books were published by small, independent, or university presses.


Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her (Riverhead)

Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King (McSweeney’s)

Louise Erdrich, The Round House (Harper)

Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ecco)

Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds (Little, Brown)


Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956 (Doubleday)

Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity (Random House)

Robert A. Caro, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4 (Knopf)

Domingo Martinez, The Boy Kings of Texas (Lyons Press)

Anthony Shadid, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)


David Ferry, Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations (University of Chicago Press)

Cynthia Huntington, Heavenly Bodies (Southern Illinois University Press)

Tim Seibles, Fast Animal (Etruscan Press)

Alan Shapiro, Night of the Republic (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Susan Wheeler, Meme (University of Iowa Press)

Young People’s Literature

William Alexander, Goblin Secrets (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

Carrie Arcos, Out of Reach (Simon Pulse)

Patricia McCormick, Never Fall Down (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)

Eliot Schrefer, Endangered (Scholastic)

Steve Sheinkin; Bomb: The Race to Build―and Steal―the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon (Roaring Brook/Flash Point)

The judges were: Stacey D’Erasmo, Dinaw Mengestu, Lorrie Moore (chair), Janet Peery (Fiction); Brad Gooch, Linda Gordon, Woody Holton (chair), Susan Orlean, Judith Shulevitz (Nonfiction); Laura Kasischke (chair), Dana Levin, Maurice Manning, Patrick Rosal, Tracy K. Smith (Poetry); Judith Ortiz Cofer, Susan Cooper, Daniel Ehrenhaft, Gary D. Schmidt (chair), Marly Youmans (Young People's Literature).

The National Book Awards will be presented on November 14, 2012.