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National Book Award finalists announced, with free e-books

The 2013 National Book Award finalists were announced on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Wednesday, and for the first time, the National Book Foundation has offered a free e-book series with samples of all the finalists' work available for download.

The five finalists in each category were narrowed down from a previously announced 10-title longlist. The fiction finalists are:

Rachel Kushner for "The Flamethrowers"
Jhumpa Lahiri for "The Lowland"
James McBride for "The Good Lord Bird"
Thomas Pynchon for "Bleeding Edge"
George Saunders for "Tenth of December"

The finalists in nonfiction are:

Jill Lepore for "Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin"
Wendy Lower for "Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields"
George Packer for "The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America"
Alan Taylor for "The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832"
Lawrence Wright for "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief"

The five poetry finalists are:

Frank Bidart for "Metaphysical Dog"
Lucie Brock-Broido for "Stay, Illusion"
Adrian Matejka for "The Big Smoke"
Matt Rasmussen for "Black Aperture"
Mary Szybist for "Incarnadine"

The finalists in young people’s literature are:

Kathi Appelt for "The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp"   
Cynthia Kadohata for "The Thing About Luck"
Tom McNeal for "Far Far Away"
Meg Rosoff for "Picture Me Gone"
Gene Luen Yang for "Boxers & Saints"   

Samples of the finalists' work will be included in the free e-book series, "The Contenders: Excerpts from the 2013 National Book Award Finalists." It is available for download from the National Book Award website.

The free e-book offer is part of a 2013 effort by the National Book Foundation to raise the profile of the awards and enhance discussion of the books in competition.

Theoretically, any reader could download the e-book sample and make up his or her own mind about the finalists, or perhaps be enticed to purchase the complete books to read before doing so.

Each National Book Award winner will get $10,000; the awards are to be presented Nov. 20 at a gala in New York.

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