NEW YORK – Lauren Groff is a National Book Award finalist for her third consecutive book, nominated in the fiction category Tuesday for her historical novel “Matrix.” Anthony Doerr's multi-generational epic “Cloud Cuckoo Land,” his first work since the Pulitzer Prize-winning “All the Light We Cannot See," also made the list.
Groff, a finalist in 2015 for her marital saga “Fates and Furies” and in 2018 for her story collection “Florida,” joins an elite group of authors including Vladimir Nabokov and Rachel Carson who have been cited for three books in a row.
The other fiction finalists announced Tuesday are Laird Hunt's “Zorrie," an orphan's tale set in rural Indiana; debut novelist Robert Jones Jr.'s “The Prophets,” a love story between two enslaved men in the American South; and Jason Mott's meta-tale “Hell of a Book,” about a book tour and the author's own Southern childhood.
After releasing long-lists of 10 last month in fiction and four other competitive categories — nonfiction, poetry, translation and young people's literature — awards judges narrowed each list to five Tuesday. Winners, each of whom receive $10,000, will be announced Nov. 17 during a ceremony held online because of the pandemic.
Two honorary winners already have been named: Author-playwright Karen Tei Yamashita will receive a lifetime achievement medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and author-librarian Nancy Pearl will be given the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.
Judges, who include authors, critics and booksellers, chose from nearly 1,900 books submitted by publishers. The awards are presented by the nonprofit National Book Foundation.
In nonfiction, the finalists are Hanif Abdurraqib's “A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance,” Lucas Bessire's “Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains,” Grace M. Cho's “Tastes Like War: A Memoir,” Nicole Eustace's “Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America” and Tiya Miles' “All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake.”
Shing Yin Khor's gra(hic novel “The Legend of Auntie Po” is a young people's literature finalist, along with Malinda Lo's “Last Night at the Telegraph Club,” Kyle Lukoff's “Too Bright to See," Kekla Magoon's nonfiction “Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People” and Amber McBride's “Me (Moth).”
The poetry finalists are Desiree C. Bailey's “What Noise Against the Cane," Martín Espada's “Floaters," Douglas Kearney's “Sho,” Hoa Nguyen's “A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure” and Jackie Wang's “The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void.”
For translation, the finalists were: Elisa Shua Dusapin's “Winter in Sokcho,” translated from the French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins; Ge Fei's “Peach Blossom Paradise,” translated from the Cantonese by Canaan Morse; Nona Fernández's “The Twilight Zone,” translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer; Benjamín Labatut's “When We Cease to Understand the World,” translated from the Spanish by Adrian Nathan West; and Samar Yazbek's “Planet of Clay,” translated from the Arabic by Leri Price.
Notable works that made the long-lists but not the final five include two Oprah Winfrey book club picks, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers' debut novel “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois”; Richard Powers' “Bewilderment”; and Louis Menand's nonfiction Cold War cultural history “The Free World.”