The 35 National Book Award nominees announced today did not include "Roots," although it was considered by judges in four of the seven award categories.
According to Joan Cunliffe, director of the National Book Awards program, Alex Haley's phenomenally popular account of his family's heritage did not seem appropriate to the fiction category though much of it is written in the style of a historical novel.
It wasn't considered suitable for the category of biography and autobiography (which does include as a nominee, "The Rockeffellers: An American Dynasty"). It wasn't approriate for the category of "contemporary thoughts," which included books abut fairy tales, sexual arrangements and Dostoevsky.
So it was left to the judges in the history category to make the final decision. The, too, were "unable to name it as one of the nominees," according to the official announcement, because it does "not accommodate itself to the category of history, but transcends that and other categories."
The judges - Henry Steele Commager, William H. Goetzmann and Sonya Rudikoff - "are at one, however, that its distinguished literary quality justifies according it a special citation of merit," said the announcement.
This citation, says Cunliffe, does not include the $1,000 that will go to each winner of the award to be announced April 11, nor are there any plans to make a special presentation at the awards ceremony April 13.
Following is a list of the nominees announced today by Jacques Barzun, president of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
Biography and Authobiography
"The Rockefellers: An American Dynasty," Peter Collier, David Horowitz; "The Diary of Anais Nin: Volume VI, 1955-1966," Anais Nin; "The Lives of Roger Casement," B. L. Reid; "Norman Thomas: The Last Idealist," W. A. Swanberg; "Letters Of E. B. White," E. B. White;
"Never To Forget: The Jews of the Holocaust," Milton Meltzer; "Ox Under Pressure," John Ney; "The Master Puppeteer," Katherine Paterson; "Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry," Mildred D. Taylor; "Tunes for a Small Harmonica," Barbara Wersba;
"The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales," Bruno Bettelheim; "The Mermaid and the Minotaur: Sexual Arrangements and Human Malaise," Dorothy Dinnerstein; "Dostoevsky: The Seeds of Revolt, 1821-1849," Joseph Frank; "Kicked A Building Lately?" Ada Louise Huxtable; "Awakening From the American Dream: The Social and Political Limits to Growth," Rufus E. Miles Jr.;
"Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?" Raymond Carver; "The Balloonist," MacDonald Harris; "Orsinian Tales," Ursula K. Le Guin; "A Fine Romance," Cynthia Propper Seton; "The Spectator Bird," Wallace Stegner;
"Democratic Promise: The Poputist Moment in America," Lawrence Goodwyn; "Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America," Linda Gordon; "Simple Justice: The History of Brown V. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality," Richard Kluger; "World Of Our Fathers," Irving Howe; "America As Art," Joshua C. Taylor;
"Collected Poems: 1930-1976," Richard Eoerhart; "Leaping Clear And Other Poems," Irying Feldman; "The Snow Falls Upward: Collected Poems," Margaret Newlin; "The Gates: Poems," Muriel Rukeyser; "Collected Poems: 1954-1976," David Wagoner;
"Master Tung's Western Chamber Romance: A Chinese Chantefable," Ll-Ll Ch'en; "Aeschylus' The Orestela." Gregory Rabassa; "Dante's The Dlvine Comedy: Paradiso, Volumes 1 & 2," Charles S. Singleton; "Antonin Artaud: Selected Writings," Helen Weaver.