This morning the National Book Award Nominees were announced. These are the contenders in fiction:

  • Peter Carey, Parrot and Olivier in America (Alfred A. Knopf)
  • Jaimy Gordon, Lord of Misrule (McPherson & Co.)
  • Nicole Krauss, Great House (W.W. Norton & Co.)
  • Lionel Shriver, So Much for That (HarperCollinsPublishers)
  • Karen Tei Yamashita, I Hotel (Coffee House Press)

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Many congrats to Coffee House Press to have a horse in the running. Yamashita is a Californian author, born in Oakland, who teaches at UC Santa Cruz, and it's always lovely to see local authors up for the prize. Peter Carey and Nicole Krauss are reliable choices.

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Of course, it's always more significant who is left off the list than who made it — Jacket Copy points out that the big omission was Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. But clearly being a bestselling author, an author chosen by Oprah and splashed on the cover of TIME, doesn't guaruntee admittance to one of the most coveted shortlists of American literary prizes. And it shouldn't. A good motivation for prizes, especially when creating shortlists, is to promote lesser-known titles, rather than heaping more praise upon the over-publicized.

The NY Times adds that this shortlist includes the largest number of women ever nominated — 13 out of 20. The Fiction nominees hold up that demographic tilt, with 4 out of the 5 being women.