David Letterman a finalist for the Thurber Prize

(Courtesy of Blue Rider Press)
(Courtesy of Blue Rider Press)

Late Show host David Letterman is among the finalists for the 30th annual Thurber Prize, which calls itself “the nation’s highest recognition of the art of humor writing.” Letterman and New Yorker writer-illustrator Bruce McCall have been nominated for “This Land Was Made for You and Me (But Mostly Me)” (Blue Rider), their satiric tour of America’s richest vacation homes.

The other two finalists are:

(Courtesy of Narrative Library)
(Courtesy of Narrative Library)

* Liza Donnelly for “Women on Men” (Narrative Library), a collection of cartoons and writing about dating, sex and marriage.

* John Kenney for “Truth in Advertising” (Touchstone), a novel about the New York advertising industry. In his Washington Post review, John Wilwol praised the story’s “quick-witted, wry sendup of corporate culture” and noted that it “also produces a few strikingly dark moments.”

(Courtesy of Touchstone)
(Courtesy of Touchstone)

Is it a sign of our grim literary times that only one novel managed to make the finalist list? For a nation of great comics, we are not, apparently, a nation of great comic novelists.

But regardless of who ultimately gets the $5,000 prize on Sept. 30, the clear winner is the New Yorker. McCall, Donnelly and Kenney all contribute illustrations, cartoons and humor pieces to the magazine.

The Thurber Prize is given in honor of New Yorker writer and cartoonist James Thurber. The awards ceremony in New York will be hosted by Dan Zevin, who won last year’s prize for “Dan Gets a Mini-Van.”

The judges of this year’s prize are John Searles, Meg Wolitzer and Henry Alford.

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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