The finalists for the 2013 Thurber Prize for American Humor include Shalom Auslander for his darkly funny novel "Hope, A Tragedy." But all is not grim: The other finalists are Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel for "Lunatics," a madcap story of soccer dads, and Dan Zevin for his comic memoir of fatherhood, "Dan Gets a Minivan."
The Thurber Prize awards $5,000 annually to an excellent work of American humor writing; winners also get a crystal plaque. Works of fiction and nonfiction are eligible.
Previous winners include David Sedaris for "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and David Rakoff for "Half Empty." Ian Frazier is a two-time winner, in 1997 for "Coyote vs. Acme" and 2009 for "Lamentations of the Father." Twice the winners have been writing staffs -- the Onion's for "Our Dumb Century" and "The Daily Show's" for "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction."
If previous performance is indicative of future success, "Lunatics" should be the favorite for the 2013 award. Alan Zweibel won the Thurber Prize in 2006 for his book "The Other Shulman." But since co-writer Dave Barry (who has won many other prizes, including a little thing called a Pulitzer) hasn't won a Thurber before, that could cancel out any advantage.
NPR commentator and writer Dan Zevin has published a number of humorous memoirs about being -- or trying to be -- an adult. "Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad" follows "The Day I Turned Uncool: Confessions of a Reluctant Grownup," both of which have been optioned by Adam Sandler.
The Thurber Prize is presented by the Thurber House, the historic home of humorist James Thurber in Columbus, Ohio. The prize will be awarded Sept. 30 at Caroline's comedy club in New York City.