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2004 National Book Awards Finalists
by staff writer, Oct 13, 2004
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Camille McDuffie
Goldberg McDuffie Communications


Winners to be Announced on November 17 at Benefit
Ceremony Hosted by Garrison Keillor

Judy Blume Will Receive Medal for Distinguished
Contribution to American Letters

2004 National Book Awards FinalistsNew York, New York (October 13, 2004) -The 20 Finalists for the 2004 National Book Awards, announced today, are among America's most gifted and original writers and their books represent an astonishing range of styles, voices, and themes.

Among the Finalists are a first novelist, two distinguished historians, five prolific and established poets, two previous Finalists - including the poet Donald Justice, who died earlier this year - and the 9/11 Commission. All five Fiction Finalists are women who live in New York City. Also, five small presses have books on the list of Finalists. The announcement was made this morning by Garrison Keillor at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota. Keillor will host the National Book Awards Benefit Dinner and Ceremony in Manhattan on November 17.

The Finalists in the Young People's Literature category tackle such sensitive subjects as sexual identity, racism, and atheism, while the Nonfiction Finalists offer new insights into Shakespeare's life and work, Washington crossing the Delaware, re-entry into the outside world for prisoners, civil rights in the jazz age, and the events and lessons learned from 9/11.

The Finalists were selected by four distinguished, independent panels of Judges who were given the charge of selecting what they deem to be the best books of the year. Their decisions are made independent of and without interference by the National Book Foundation and their deliberations are strictly confidential. To be eligible for a 2004 National Book Award, a book must have been published in the United States between December 1, 2003 and November 30, 2004 and must have been written by a United States citizen. This year the Judges chose from a record 1,074 entries submitted by 226 publishers and imprints.

The winners in each of the four categories - Young People's Literature, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Fiction - will be announced on November 17 at the Benefit Dinner and Ceremony at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. Each winner receives $10,000 plus a bronze statue; each Finalist receives a bronze medal and a $1,000 cash award.

Judy Blume honored with 2004 NBF Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American LettersAlso that evening, the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation will bestow its 2004 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters upon Judy Blume, who will deliver an address to an audience of more than 1,000 authors, editors, publishers, friends, and supporters of books and book publishing. Proceeds from the evening benefit the National Book Foundation and the many educational outreach programs it runs throughout the year.

"We are delighted with the Judges' selections for this year's National Book Award Finalists, which represent a wonderful cross-section of the best of American writing and culture," said Harold Augenbraum, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. "We imagine the Judges' discussions regarding the selection of this year's Winners will be quite spirited, as the level of excellence is extremely high across the genres."

Following is the list of the 2004 National Book Award Finalists in Young People's Literature, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Fiction. Additional descriptions of the titles and author biographies or call Camille McDuffie at Goldberg McDuffie Communications at (212) 446-5106.

Readings, discussions, and special events will take place during "National Book Awards Week." For details call (212) 446-5106.

The Judges for the 2004 National Book Awards:

  • Fiction panel: Rick Moody (chair), Linda Hogan, Randall Kenan, Stewart O'Nan, and Susan Straight.
  • Nonfiction panel: Diane Wood Middlebrook (chair), Douglas Brinkley, Ted Conover, Thadious Davis, and Katherine Newman.
  • Young People's Literature panel: Lois Ruby (chair), James Haskins, Marie G. Lee, Phoebe Stone, and Neil Waldman.
  • Poetry panel: Michael Waters (chair), Lynn Emanuel, James Galvin, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Al Young.


Young People's Literature

  • Deb Caletti, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
  • Pete Hautman, Godless (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
  • Laban Carrick Hill, Harlem Stomp!: A Cultural History of the Harlem Renaissance (Megan Tingley Books/Little, Brown & Company)
  • Shelia P. Moses, The Legend of Buddy Bush (Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division)
  • Julie Anne Peters, Luna: A Novel (Megan Tingley Books/Little, Brown & Company)


  • Kevin Boyle, Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age (Henry Holt & Company, LLC)
  • David Hackett Fischer, Washington's Crossing (Oxford University Press)
  • Jennifer Gonnerman, Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett
    (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • Stephen Greenblatt, Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (W.W. Norton & Company)
  • The 9/11 Commission, The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States-Authorized Edition (W.W. Norton & Company)




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