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My Favorite Readings from the 2013 National Book Award Finalists

Favorite National Book Award FinalistsI covered this year’s National Book Foundation’s National Book Awards Finalists Reading for The readings were held November 19, 2013 at the Tishman Auditorium, at the New School, in New York City. It was an excellent event and I’d encourage anyone to go and enjoy a great sampling of books by American writers.

national book award finalist medalI shot video of all of the finalists which may be viewed on this playlist on our discussion forum. All twenty readings (5 in each of the 4 categories) were really quite good.  However, I’m only sharing my favorites here, one from each category.  It is worth noting that none of my favorite readers went on to actually win the National Book Award.

Fiction finalists were; Rachel Kushner for “The Flamethrowers” (my favorite reading); Jhumpa Lahiri for “The Lowland”; James McBride for “The Good Lord Bird” (Winner); Thomas Pynchon for “Bleeding Edge”; and George Saunders for “Tenth of December”.

Nonfiction finalists were; Jill Lepore for “Book of Ages”; Wendy Lower for “Hitler’s Furies”; George Packer for “The Unwinding” (Winner); Alan Taylor for “The Internal Enemy” (my favorite reading); and Lawrence Wright for “Going Clear”.

Young People’s Literature finalistswere; Kathi Appelt for “The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp”; Cynthia Kadohata for “The Thing About Luck” (Winner); Tom McNeal for “Far Far Away”; Meg Rosoff for “Picture Me Gone”; and Gene Luen Yang for “Boxers & Saints” (my favorite reading).

Poetry finalists were; are Frank Bidart for “Metaphysical Dog” (my favorite reading); Lucie Brock-Broido for “Stay, Illusion”; Adrian Matejka for “The Big Smoke”; Matt Rasmussen for “Black Aperture”; and Mary Szybist for “Incarnadine” (Winner).

Visit’s events section to see our expanding coverage of of the 2013 National Book Awards.



Troy D. Johnson is the President, founder and webmaster of, LLC (The African American Literature Book Club). Launched in March of 1998, has grown to become the largest and most frequently visited website dedicated to books and films by and about people of African descent.