Junot Diaz and Dave Eggers Join List of 2012 National Book Award Finalists

Calling all literary aficionados: The finalists’ names are in! The National Book Award finalists were announced Wednesday, but all nominees will have to wait until November to see which four are lucky enough to receive the coveted prize. Recipients are chosen by a panel of fellow writers (which changes every year) in four award categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature.

The biggest names of the year are found on the fiction list with the favorite Junot Diaz recognized for his book This Is How You Lose Her, and the controversial Dave Eggers nod for his book A Hologram for the King. Admittedly, I have not read any of these novels and as a self-proclaimed "book worm," I am ashamed of myself. But by reading the synopsis of each novel, not only do I now have a long list of titles to check out from the library, I also believe that the judges were able to achieve the National Book Foundation’s goal of “strik[ing] a balance between making the awards a mark of literary excellence and of popular appeal.” Their finalist picks run the gamut.

2012 nominees include five Pulitzer Prize winners, a former National Book Award winner and two MacArthur "genius" grant recipients — but also five debut works. In years past, the National Book Foundation had come under scrutiny for choosing too many obscure titles by little-known authors. This is a classic example of writers helping other writers; an attempt to garner attention and ramp up sales. This year, a number of new faces are given their chance to stand out among a blend of well-known and respected authors and as an aspiring writer myself I have to admire that. That could be me one day, struggling to gain recognition for a novel that required so much of my sweat, blood, and tears. 

As an avid reader I usually prefer to take the road less traveled and read the novels no one has ever heard of, simply because I so strongly support and respect writers and their ability to create worlds that we, the readers, can get lost in. Everyone deserves the opportunity for recognition and I’m proud to see so much diversity on this year’s list.

I would like to hear from those who have read the books on this list: which should I start with?

A full list of finalists can be found here: http://www.nationalbook.org/