Lawrence Wright, Thomas Pynchon Lead National Book Award Finalists
The fiction and nonfiction nominees revealed on "Morning Joe" include a Jhumpa Lahiri, George Packer, Jill Lepore and James McBride.
Going Clear, Lawrence Wright's history of Scientology, and Bleeding Edge, the latest novel from reclusive genius Thomas Pynchon, are among the finalists for the 2013 National Book Award announced Wednesday.
The announcements were made on MSNBC's Morning Joe, an effort to raise the profile of the awards, which come with a $10,000 prize.
Another move to raise awareness of the nominees was the release of free e-books collecting samples from the nominees in different categories.
The winners will be announced at a New York City gala event on Nov. 20.
Going Clear is the revelatory history of the controversial religion that topped best-seller lists earlier in the year.
Joining Wright among the nonfiction nominees were two distinguished American historians: Jill Lepore and Alan Taylor.
Lepore, a Harvard professor and New Yorker contributor, made the list for her biography of Ben Franklin's younger sister Jane, the person he wrote to more than any other in his life.
Taylor, a Pulitzer winner who holds the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Chair at the University of Virginia, was nominated for his history of how the British Navy helped free slaves during the early years of the American republic.
A third historian among the nominees is Wendy Lower, who teaches European history at Claremont McKenna. She was nominated for Hitler's Furies (out only a week) about how intimately involved German women were in the Holocaust.
New Yorker writer George Packer's history of the the U.S. from 1978-2012, The Unwinding, was the final nominee.
Aside from Phychon, the fiction nominees also include Pulitzer prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri for The Lowland, a novel about two brothers set in India and America, and Rachel Kushner for her novel of '70s radicals, The Flamethrowers.
Also making the cut of five was The Color of Water writer James McBride for his wild and entertaining The Good Lord Bird, about a young boy who joins up with abolitionist John Brown (and sometimes passes as a girl).
The fifth nominee was Tenth of December, a short-story collection from George Saunders
The National Book Foundation also announced the nominees for young people's literature and poetry. The complete list of finalists is below.
Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)
Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
James McBride, The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead Books/Penguin Group USA)
Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (The Penguin Press/Penguin Group USA)
George Saunders, Tenth of December (Random House)
Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
Wendy Lower, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
George Packer, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (W.W. Norton & Company)
Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
Young People's Literature
Kathi Appelt, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)
Cynthia Kadohata, The Thing About Luck (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)
Tom McNeal, Far Far Away (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
Meg Rosoff, Picture Me Gone (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Group USA)
Gene Luen Yang, Boxers & Saints (First Second/Macmillan)
Frank Bidart, Metaphysical Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Lucie Brock-Broido, Stay, Illusion (Alfred A. Knopf)
Adrian Matejka, The Big Smoke (Penguin Poets/Penguin Group USA)
Matt Rasmussen, Black Aperture (Louisiana State University Press)
Mary Szybist, Incarnadine: Poems (Graywolf Press)