Thomas Pynchon, Jill Lepore, Lawrence Wright Among National Book Award Finalists

Winners will be revealed on Nov. 20

The National Book Awards finalists were announced on Wednesday, with five each in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Young People’s Literature.

Lawrence Wright’s “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief” made the nonfiction list. The book stemmed from Wright’s “New Yorker” piece on “Crash” director Paul Haggis and his exit from the controversial church.

Also read: National Book Awards Pick Thomas Pynchon, Alice McDermott for Fiction Longlist

He’ll be competing against a fellow “New Yorker” staff writer in the category: Jill Lepore’s “Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin” also made the list.

Thomas Pynchon’s “Bleeding Edge” is a finalist in the fiction category — he won the award back in 1974 for “Gravity’s Rainbow.” His fellow finalists include Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri, for “The Lowland.” and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient George Saunders, for “Tenth of December.”

The winners will be announced at the award ceremony on Nov. 20.

Also read: National Book Awards: Katherine Boo Wins for Nonfiction, Louise Erdrich for Fiction

Here’s the full list:


Rachel Kushner, “The Flamethrowers”

Jhumpa Lahiri, “The Lowland”

James McBride, “The Good Lord Bird”

Thomas Pynchon, “Bleeding Edge”

George Saunders, “Tenth of December”


Jill Lepore, “Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin”

Wendy Lower, “Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields”

George Packer, “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America”

Alan Taylor, “The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832”

Lawrence Wright, “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief”


Frank Bidart, “Metaphysical Dog”

Lucie Brock-Broido, “Stay, Illusion”

Adrian Matejka, “The Big Smoke”

Matt Rasmussen, “Black Aperture”

Mary Szybist, “Incarnadine: Poems”

Young People’s Literature

Kathi Appelt, “The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp”

Cynthia Kadohata, “The Thing About Luck”

Tom McNeal, “Far Far Away”

Meg Rosoff, “Picture Me Gone”

Gene Luen Yang, “Boxers & Saints”