2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists announced


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What do Michael Ondaatje, Manning Marable and Stephen King have in common? They’re all in the running for 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. The finalists -- five each, in 10 categories -- were announced Tuesday. The 32nd annual prizes will be awarded at a public ceremony April 20 at USC’s Bovard Auditorium.

The Robert Kirsch Award for significant contribution to American letters will be presented to Rudolfo Anaya, it was also announced. Anaya’s 1972 bestselling coming-of-age story, “Bless Me, Ultima,” is a seminal work of Chicano literature; in 2002, for this and subsequent books, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.


Figment, a collaborative digital writing community for teens, will receive the third Innovator’s Award. Its previous winners are writer and publisher Dave Eggers and Powell’s Books.

Awards will be presented in current interest, fiction, first fiction, biography, history, mystery-thriller, science and technology, graphic novel, poetry and young adult literature. King’s book about time travel and the JFK assassination, “11/22/63,” is in the running in the mystery-thriller category. His competition includes A.D. Miller’s “Snowdrops,” which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Two National Book Award finalists are competing in the fiction category: Julie Otsuka’s “The Buddha in the Attic” and Edith Pearlman’s short story collection, “Binocular Vision.” Among the books they’ll be facing is Michael Ondaatje’s “The Cat’s Table.”

For the second year in a row, veteran author Jim Woodring is a finalist in the graphic novel category. Woodring is the only graphic novelist to be a two-time finalist for the award, now in its third year.

The young adult category boasts 2004 National Book Award winner Pete Hautman for his latest, “The Big Crunch,” and Printz Award winner Libba Bray, for the book “Beauty Queens.”

The finalists for biography include Manning Marable, who died just days before his long-awaited “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” was published, and Alexandra Styron, who in “Reading My Father: A Memoir,” writes of her father William, best known for “Sophie’s Choice.”


Other notable finalists include Bruce Smith in poetry, James Gleick in science and technology, Ioan Grillo in current interest, Adam Hochschild in history and Chad Harbach for first fiction. The complete list of finalists is after the jump.

The L.A. Times Book Prizes are awarded the night before the weekend’s Festival of Books, which will take place at USC. Tickets for the Book Prizes ceremony will be available for purchase on March 26; check the Festival of Books website for details.

2011 LA Times Book Prize Finalists

Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned” by John A. Farrell (Doubleday)
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” by Manning Marable (Viking)
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman” by Robert K. Massie (Random House)
Reading My Father: A Memoir” by Alexandra Styron (Scribner)
“My Long Trip Home” by Mark Whitaker (Simon & Schuster)

Current Interest
Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything” by David Bellos (Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
“El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency” by Ioan Grillo (Bloomsbury Press)
“Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
“Pakistan: A Hard Country” by Anatol Lieven (PublicAffairs)
The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science and Fear” by Seth Mnookin (Simon & Schuster)

Ghost Light” by Joseph O’Connor (Frances Coady Book/Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
The Cat’s Table” by Michael Ondaatje (Knopf)
“The Buddha in the Attic” by Julie Otsuka (Knopf)
Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories” by Edith Pearlman (Lookout Books/University of North Carolina Wilmington)
Luminarium” by Alex Shakar (SoHo Press)

The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction
The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach (Little, Brown)
Ten Thousand Saints” by Eleanor Henderson (Ecco/HarperCollins)
“Leaving the Atocha Station” by Ben Lerner (Coffee House Press)
“Shards” by Ismet Prcic (Grove Press, Black Cat)
“The Arriviste” by James Wallenstein (Milkweed Editions)

Graphic Novel
“I Will Bite You! And Other Stories” by Joseph Lambert (Secret Acres)
“Celluloid” by Dave McKean (Fantagraphics)
“Finder: Voice” by Carla Speed McNeil (Dark Horse)
“Congress of the Animals” by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics)
“Garden” by Yuichi Yokoyama (PictureBox)

“The Anatomy of a Moment: Thirty-Five Minutes in History and Imagination” by Javier Cercas (Bloomsbury Press)
“1861: The Civil War Awakening” by Adam Goodheart (Knopf)
To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918” by Adam Hochschild (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Molotov’s Magic Lantern: A Journey in Russian History” by Rachel Polonsky (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
“Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America” by Richard White (W.W. Norton)


“Started Early, Took My Dog” by Kate Atkinson (Reagan Arthur Books/Hachette Book Group)
Plugged” by Eoin Colfer (Overlook Press)
11/22/63” by Stephen King (Scribner)
“Snowdrops: A Novel” by A.D. Miller (Doubleday)
“The End of Wasp Season” by Denise Mina (Reagan Arthur Books/Hachette Book Group)

“Songs of Unreason” by Jim Harrison (Copper Canyon Press)
“Discipline” by Dawn Lundy Martin (Nightboat Books)
“The Public Gardens” by Linda Norton (Pressed Wafer)
“Double Shadow: Poems” by Carl Phillips (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
“Devotions” by Bruce Smith (University of Chicago Press)

Science & Technology
A Hole at the Bottom of the Sea: The Race to Kill the BP Oil Gusher” by Joel Achenbach (Simon & Schuster)
The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood” by James Gleick (Pantheon)
“Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men” by Mara Hvistendahl (PublicAffairs)
Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius” by Sylvia Nasar (Simon & Schuster)
“Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution” by Holly Tucker (W.W. Norton)

Young Adult Literature
Beauty Queens” by Libba Bray (Scholastic Press)
“The Big Crunch” by Pete Hautman (Scholastic Press)
“A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd” by Patrick Ness (Candlewick Press)
“Life: An Exploded Diagram” by Mal Peet (Candlewick Press)
The Scorpio Races” by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic Press)

The Robert Kirsch Award
Rudolfo Anaya

The Innovator’s Award


2010 L.A. Times Book Prize finalists

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-- Carolyn Kellogg