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Ta-Nehisi Coates, Lauren Groff among finalists for National Book Awards

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates at the New Yorker Festival on Oct. 4, 2015. (Anna Webber/Getty Images for the New Yorker)

Just hours after almost winning the Man Booker Prize in England , Hanya Yanagihara has been named a finalist for a National Book Award in the United States. Her devastating novel "A Little Life" is one of five works in the running for the NBA Fiction Prize, announced Wednesday on NPR.

Other fiction finalists include “Fortune Smiles,” a collection of short stories by Pulitzer Prize winner­ Adam Johnson, and “Fates and Furies,” a novel by Lauren Groff.

Upon hearing the news, Groff said: “I wasn’t expecting or even hoping to be a finalist for the National Book Award, so I’m astonished and grateful and a little bit shaky at the moment. I love and respect the work of everyone on the long list and look forward to meeting all my brand-new buddies on the shortlist at the ceremony in November. My only worry is having to find a dress that is beautiful but easy to dance in, whether I win or lose.”

Cultural critic Ta-Nehisi Coates, photographer Sally Mann and poet Tracy K. Smith are among the finalists for the Nonfiction Prize. Coates's "Between the World and Me," written in the form of a letter to his 15-year-old son, has generated intense discussion about racism in America. In her new memoir, "Hold Still," Mann reflects on her life and the controversy surrounding her provocative photographs of her children.

Previous NBA winner Terrance Hayes is a finalist for his new poetry collection, “How to Be Drawn.”

This is the third time that Steve Sheinkin has been a finalist for the NBA Young People's Literature Award. His new book is a biography of former government analyst Daniel Ellsberg titled "Most Dangerous."

At the awards ceremony on Nov. 18 in New York, all the finalists will receive $1,000. The winners — in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Young People's Literature — will receive $10,000 each.

Here is the full list of finalists:


“Refund,” by Karen E. Bender (Counterpoint)

“The Turner House,” by Angela Flournoy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

"Fortune Smiles," by Adam Johnson (Random House)

"Fates and Furies," by Lauren Groff (Riverhead)

"A Little Life," by Hanya Yanagihara (Doubleday)


"Between the World and Me," by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Spiegel & Grau)

"Hold Still," by Sally Mann

(Little, Brown)

“The Soul of an Octopus,” by Sy Montgomery (Atria)

"If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran," by Carla Power

(Henry Holt)

"Ordinary Light," by Tracy K. Smith (Knopf)

Young People’s Literature

“The Thing About Jellyfish,” by Ali Benjamin (Little, Brown)

“Bone Gap,” by Laura Ruby

(Balzer & Bray)

"Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War," by Steve Sheinkin

(Roaring Brook)

“Challenger Deep,” by Neal Shusterman (HarperCollins)

“Nimona,” by Noelle Stevenson (HarperTeen)


“Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude,” by Ross Gay (University of Pittsburgh)

"How to Be Drawn," by Terrance Hayes (Penguin)

“Bright Dead Things,” by Ada Limón (Milkweed)

“Voyage of the Sable Venus,” by Robin Coste Lewis (Knopf)

“Elegy for a Broken Machine,” by Patrick Phillips (Knopf)

Publishers submitted more than 1,400 titles for this year’s awards.

At ceremony, the National Book Foundation will honor Don DeLillo with the 2015 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. DeLillo, the author of such celebrated novels as "White Noise" and "Underworld," has won a National Book Award, a PEN/Faulkner Award and the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.

The foundation will also present its 2015 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community to James Patterson. The best-selling thriller writer has donated millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of books to schools, children, soldiers, libraries and independent bookstores. Under his $250,000 grant program, he is taking applications for "holiday bonuses" ($1,000 to $5,000) for independent booksellers around the country.

Charles is the editor of Book World. You can follow him @RonCharles.

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