Two or Three Things We Know About the 2012 National Book Award Finalists

The 2012 National Book Award winners will be announced November 14th. Here are two or three things you should know about each of the authors nominated this year.


Junot Díaz, author of This Is How You Lose Her: Hates writing short stories. Considers himself an optimistic motherfucker.

Hologram King by Dave EggersDave Eggers, author of A Hologram for the King: One of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2005. Married to Vendela Vida. Ranks Nausea among his favorite books.

Louise Erdrich, author of The Round House: Is the daughter of a Chippewa Indian mother. Her German-American father "worked his way through Alaska at age seventeen and paid for his living expenses by winning at the poker table."

Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: Quit his job as a lawyer so he'd have time to write fiction, despite having never published a story. Has drawn comparisons to Robert Stone.

Kevin Powers, author of The Yellow Birds: Served with the U.S. Army in Mosul and Tal Afar, Iraq in 2004 and 2005. Rides a motorcycle.


Anne Applebaum, author of Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956: Writes a monthly foreign affairs column for The Washington Post and Slate. Married Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski in 1992. Won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 2004.

Katherine Boo, author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity: Conducted three years of research in an Indian slum. Appeared on Charlie Rose in February. Has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2003.

Robert A. Caro, author of The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4: Won a 2002 National Book Award for Master of the Senate. Helped to shape how Barack Obama thinks about politics.

Boy Kings of Texas coverDomingo Martinez, author of The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir: Was born and raised in Brownsville, Texas. Has lived in Seattle for nearly 20 years.

Anthony Shadid, author of House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East: Won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 and 2010 for his dispatches from Iraq. Died in February 2012 while on assignment in Syria.


David Ferry, author of Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations: Was first published in the Kenyon Review. Won the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement.

Cynthia Huntington, author of Heavenly Bodies: Teaches at Dartmouth. Was named poet laureate of the state of New Hampshire in 2004.

Tim Seibles, author of Fast Animal: Was born in Philadelphia in 1955. Teaches in the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA in Writing Program.

Susan Wheeler Meme coverAlan Shapiro, author of Night of the Republic: Has published ten books of poems. Teaches at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Susan Wheeler, author of Meme: Was the first example of an "Elliptical Poet" described by Stephen Burt in his creation of the term. Serves as Director of Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton. Wrote a novel called Record Palace in 2005.

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