October 16, 2013 / 2:09 PM / 6 years ago

Thomas Pynchon, James McBride among National Book Award finalists

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A family saga set in India and America, a woman’s entry into the art world in the mid-70s and a boy’s battle against slavery are among the subjects covered in fiction works selected as finalists on Wednesday for the 2013 National Book Awards.

The National Book Foundation announced finalists for the awards, which are among the most prestigious in U.S. publishing, in four categories - fiction, non-fiction, young people’s literature and poetry.

Winners, who will receive $10,000 and a bronze statue, will be named at an awards dinner on November 20 in New York.

Rachel Kushner was selected for her second novel, “The Flamethrowers,” about an artist fascinated with motorcycles and speed. She will compete against Jhumpa Lahiri’s tale of Indian brothers bound by tragedy in “The Lowland,” and James McBride’s “The Good Lord Bird,” an exploration of identity and survival during slavery.

Thomas Pynchon, a previous winner of the National Book Award, was named a finalist in the same category for “Bleeding Edge,” along with George Saunders for “Tenth of December.”

“One of the things we have this year in fiction is a selection of stories with voices that are very different,” said Harold Augenbraum, the executive director of the National Book Foundation.

“It seems like a very American list this year, more than in previous years,” he added in an interview.

Historical works dominated the non-fiction category, which Augenbraum said did not include any memoirs this year.

Jill Lepore was named a finalist for “Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin,” along with Wendy Lower for “Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields,” and George Packer for “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America.”

Alan Taylor was picked in the same category for “The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832,” and Lawrence Wright was named for “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief.”

Judges selected the finalists from 1,432 books submitted for the awards, including 408 in fiction and 517 in non-fiction.

In the young people’s literature category the list includes former National Book Award finalists Kathi Appelt for “The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp” and Gene Luen Yang, who was nominated for “Boxers & Saints.”

Cynthia Kadohata was selected for “The Thing About Luck” and Tom McNeal was picked for “Far Far Away,” along with Meg Rosoff for “Picture Me Gone.”

Poetry finalists include Frank Bidart for “Metaphysical Dog,” Lucie Brock-Broido for “Stay, Illusion” and Adrian Matejka for “The Big Smoke.”

Matt Rasmussen was also picked in the poetry category for “Black Aperture,” along with Mary Szybist, who was named for “Incarnadine.”

For the first time this year the National Book Awards also announced a long list of selections before the finalists.

Last year, author Louise Erdrich took home the award for fiction for “The Round House,” and Katherine Boo won the non-fiction award for her first book, “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity,” which sheds light on the lives of India’s poor as well as government corruption.

Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Eric Beech

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