The finalists for the 2011 National Book Awards were announced on October 12. As usual the list is a mix of relative unknowns and old reliables, critically acclaimed bestsellers and small press prestige titles. The NBA, along with the Pulitzer, is the most coveted prize awarded to American writers. The roster of past winners reads like a Who's Who of the last half century in American letters. They include Jonathan Franzen , Ha Jin , Cormac McCarthy  and Alice Walker  for fiction; Patti Smith , Joan Didion , Tom Wolfe  and Maxine Hong Kingston  for nonfiction; Galway Kinnell , Elizabeth Bishop , W. H. Auden  and William Carlos Williams  for Poetry; and Sherman Alexie  and Jeanne Birdsall  for young people's literature.
Winners will be announced at the Foundation's big shindig in New York City on November 16.
The Sojourn  / Andrew Krivak
The Tiger’s Wife  / Tea Obreht
The Buddha in the Attic  / Julie Otsuka
Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories  / Edith Pearlman
Salvage the Bones  / Jesmyn Ward
The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism  / Deborah Baker
Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution  / Mary Gabriel
Swerve  / Stephen Greenblatt
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention  / Manning Marable
Radioactive: Marie & Peirre Curie. A Tale of Love and Fallout / Lauren Redniss
Head Off & Split / Nikky Finney 
Chameleon Couch  / Yusef Komunyakaa
Double Shadow / Carl Phillips 
Tonight No Poetry Will Serve / Adrienne Rich  
Devotions / Bruce Smith 
Young People's Literature
My Name Is Not Easy / Debby Dahl Edwardson 
Inside Out and Back Again  / Thanhha Lai
Flesh and Blood So Cheap / Albert Marrin 
Shine  / Lauren Myracle
Okay for Now  / Gary D. Schmidt
Chime  / Franny Billingsley
(Right about now you are saying, "Why are there six finalists for Young People's Literature and only five for the others?" Answer: somebody made a mistake , and not wanting cause a furor by yanking one of the already announced titles off the list, the Foundation just added the sixth.
Addendum: Well, our friends at the Nat'l Book Foundation have made a mess of things .