Novelists Dave Eggers (A Hologram for the King) and Junot Diaz (This is How You Lose Her) were among the five fiction finalists named for the National Book Award today.
The other fiction finalists were Louise Erdrich for The Round House, Ben Fountain for Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, and Kevin Powers for The Yellow Birds.
Showing the impact of a more than a decade of war on American life, two of the fiction finalists—Billy Lynn and Yellow Birds--deal with the personal consequences of the Iraq and Afghanistan war.
The 2011 awards were marked by controversy over the fiction finalists, as a number of critics accused the National Book Foundation, which administers the awards, of favoring little-known non-commercial authors at the expense of higher-profile names.
Nominees such as Eggers, Diaz and Erdrich have a higher public profile but the award continues to eschew commercial fiction.
The dark horse pick has to be Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, a beautiful elegiac story about soldier coping with the trauma of war told through flashback while he is being honored at halftime of a football game.
The nonfiction finalists were headlined by a posthumous nomination for The New York Times writer Anthony Shadid for House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East and Robert Caro for The Passage of Power," the fourth volume in his biography of Lyndon Johnson.
Shadid, who had also reported for the Washington Post, died of an Asthma attack in February while on assignment in Syria.
The other three nominees were Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956, Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity and Domingo Martinez, The Boy Kings of Texas.
The NBA's nominees for the young people's literature award demonstrated a quirky, noncommercial bent.
The final five chosen: William Alexander's Goblin Secrets, Carrie Arcos's Out of Reach, Patricia McCormick's Never Fall Down, Eliot Schrefer's Endangered and Steve Sheinkin's Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon.
The poetry nominees are David Ferry's Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations, Cynthia Huntington's Heavenly Bodies, Tim Seibles's Fast Animal, Alan Shapiro's Night of the Republic and Susan Wheeler's Meme.
The National Book Award Foundation will also present lifetime achievement awards to Elmore Leonard and The New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.
Winners will be announced at a ceremony in New York City on Nov. 14.