2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists announced


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Contrarian social critic Christopher Hitchens, rocker Patti Smith and novelist Jonathan Franzen are among the finalists for the 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, it was announced Tuesday. The 31st annual prizes will be awarded at a ceremony at The Times on April 29.

There are five finalists competing in 10 categories — current interest, fiction, first fiction, biography, history, mystery-thriller, science and technology, graphic novel, poetry and young adult literature.


The Robert Kirsch Award, for significant contribution to American letters, will be presented to Beverly Cleary, the first time it has been awarded to a children’s book author. Cleary is the author of ‘Beezus and Ramona’ and dozens of other books.

Books about presidents have been named finalists in three categories: ‘Washington: A Life’ by Ron Chernow is a finalist in history, Edmund Morris’ ‘Colonel Roosevelt’ is a biography finalist and Jonathan Alter’s ‘The Promise: President Obama, Year One’ is a finalist in current interest.

Current interest, the category in which the National Book Award-winning memoir by Smith is nominated, also includes two books about the financial crisis: ‘The Big Short’ by Michael Lewis and ‘All the Devils Are Here’ by Joe Nocera and Bethany McLean. Sebastian Junger’s ‘War’ rounds out the category.

Finalists competing against Franzen in fiction are the novels “Nashville Chrome” by Rick Bass, Frederick Reiken’s “Day for Night,” Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit From the Goon Squad” and Richard Bausch’s story collection “Something Is Out There.”

In biography, Hitchens’ skepticism will do battle with Laura Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption,” about Southern California Olympian and former prisoner of war Louis Zamperini. Other finalists, along with “Colonel Roosevelt” are “George, Nicholas and Wilhelm” by Miranda Carter and “The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham” by Selina Hastings.

In the science and technology category, medicine takes a key role with Rebecca Skloot’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” by Siddhartha Mukherjee facing off against Oren Harman’s “The Price of Altruism,” “Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie” by Lauren Redniss and “Merchants of Doubt” by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway.


Veteran mystery-thriller finalist Tana French will go up against Stuart Neville, who won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the category in 2009. Their competitors are Laura Lippman, Kelli Stanley and Tom Franklin.

Now in its second year, the graphic-novel category includes veteran Jim Woodring, graphic memoirists Karl Stevens and C. Tyler, newcomer Adam Hines and Dash Shaw.

Poetry finalists include a Pulitzer Prize winner, Maxine Kumin, and a poet with his first collection, Yehoshua November.

The L.A. Times Book Prizes are awarded the night before the weekend’s Festival of Books, which will take place in 2011 at its new home, the campus of USC. The complete list of finalists is after the jump.

2010 Book Prize Finalists

Miranda Carter, ‘George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I’ (Knopf)
Selina Hastings, ‘The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham’ (Random House)
Laura Hillenbrand, ‘Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption’ (Random House)
Christopher Hitchens, ‘Hitch-22: A Memoir’ (TWELVE/Hachette Book Group)
Edmund Morris, ‘Colonel Roosevelt’ (Random House)


Current Interest
Jonathan Alter, ‘The Promise: President Obama, Year One’ (Simon & Schuster)
Sebastian Junger, ‘War’ (TWELVE/Hachette Book Group)
Michael Lewis, ‘The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine’ (W.W. Norton & Company)
Joe Nocera and Bethany McLean, ‘All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis’ (Portfolio/Penguin Group)
Patti Smith, ‘Just Kids’ (Ecco/HarperCollins)

Rick Bass, ‘Nashville Chrome’ (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Richard Bausch, ‘Something is Out There: Stories’ (Knopf)
Jennifer Egan, ‘A Visit From the Goon Squad’ (Knopf)
Jonathan Franzen, ‘Freedom’ (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Frederick Reiken, ‘Day for Night‘(Reagan Arthur Books/Hachette Book Group)

Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction
Peter Bognanni, ‘The House of Tomorrow’ (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam)
Leslie Jamison, ‘The Gin Closet’ (Free Press/Simon & Schuster)
Michael Sledge, ‘The More I Owe You’ (Counterpoint)
Christine Sneed, ‘Portraits of a Few People I’ve Made Cry: Stories’ (University of Massachusetts Press)
Tatjana Soli, ‘The Lotus Eaters’ (St. Martin’s Press)

Graphic Novel
Adam Hines, ‘Duncan the Wonder Dog: Show One’ (Adhouse Books)
Dash Shaw, ‘Bodyworld’ (Pantheon)
Karl Stevens, ‘The Lodger’ (KSA Publishing)
C. Tyler, ‘You’ll Never Know, Book Two: Collateral Damage’ (Fantagraphics)
Jim Woodring, ‘Weathercraft’ (Fantagraphics)

Ron Chernow, ‘Washington: A Life’ (The Penguin Press)
John W. Dower, ‘Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq’ (W.W. Norton & Company and The New Press)
Susan Dunn, ‘Roosevelt’s Purge: How FDR Fought To Change the Democratic Party’ (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press)
Thomas Powers, ‘The Killing of Crazy Horse’ (Pantheon)
Steven Solomon, ‘Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization’ (HarperCollins)

Tom Franklin, ‘Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter’ (William Morrow)
Tana French, ‘Faithful Place’ (Viking)
Laura Lippman, ‘I’d Know You Anywhere’ (William Morrow)
Stuart Neville, ‘Collusion’ (SoHo Press)
Kelli Stanley, ‘City of Dragons’ (Minotaur Books/A Thomas Dunne Book)

Henri Cole, ‘Pierce the Skin: Selected Poems, 1982-2007’ (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Maxine Kumin, ‘Where I Live: New & Selected Poems 1990-2010’ (W. W. Norton & Company)
Yehoshua November, ‘God’s Optimism’ (Main Street Rag)
Craig Santos Perez, ‘From Unincorporated Territory {Saina}’ (Omnidawn)
Ed Roberson, ‘To See the Earth Before the End of the World’ (Wesleyan University Press)

Science & Technology
Oren Harman, ‘The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness’ (W. W. Norton & Company)
Siddhartha Mukherjee, ‘The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer’ (Scribner)
Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, ‘Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming’ (Bloomsbury USA)
Lauren Redniss, ‘Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout’ (It Books/HarperCollins)
Rebecca Skloot, ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ (Crown)

Young Adult Literature
Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos, ‘Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom and Science’ (Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Stephanie Hemphill, ‘Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials’ (Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins)
Jonathan Stroud, ‘The Ring of Solomon’ (Disney/Hyperion Books for Children)
Megan Whalen Turner, ‘A Conspiracy of Kings’ (Greenwillow/HarperCollins)
Rick Yancey, ‘The Curse of the Wendigo {The Monstrumologist}’ (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing)

2010 Robert Kirsch Award
Beverly Cleary (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

2010 Innovator’s Award
Powell’s Books, Portland, Ore.


-- Carolyn Kellogg