2012 National Book Award finalists have been announced

This morning, nineteen writers moved closer to their dream of winning one of the prestigious National Book Awards for 2012 when they were named as finalists.

The National Book Awards were begun in 1936. A break of several years around World War II ended in 1950 when they resumed. These awards are bestowed on U.S. authors who publish in this country.

Below are some of the authors who made it to the finalists' list.

In the Fiction category, Ben Fountain was one of five authors to get the nod. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Fountain's debut novel, takes place over the 2004 Thanksgiving Day weekend, 19-year-old Billy is between tours of duty in Iraq. His unit, Bravo Company, is being feted at the Dallas Cowboys football game with all the attendant hoopla. A searing look at the toll the Iraq war has taken on those who have served.

The late Anthony Shadid is one of the authors named in the Nonfiction category for his moving House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author took a break from journalism to return to his village in Lebanon to restore the Shadid family's ancestral home. Kirkus Reviews wrote of this book, "A complicated, elegiac, beautiful attempt to reconcile the physical bayt (home) and the spiritual." Shadid, who was shot and kidnapped during his long courageous career as a foreign correspondent, died February 16, 2012, of an asthma attack.

Poet Cynthia Huntington is a finalist for Heavenly Bodies, a collection of poetry that stuns and shocks and provokes with her observations about the sexual revolution, the drug culture, and political upheaval that rocked the 1960s.

The critics were unanimous in their praise of Bomb: The Race to Build -- and Steal -- the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin who has written a nonfiction thriller for tweens. Divided into three parts, Sheinkin writes of the development of the bomb, the Soviet spy system that tried to steal it, and the Americans' frantic efforts to keep the bomb out of German hands.

For a complete list of the finalists, check out this link.

The winners in the four categories will be announced on Wednesday, November 14, 2012. At that time two additional special awards will be given: Michigan novelist Elmore Leonard will receive the 2012 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. will accept the 2012 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. Sulzberger is the Publisher (since 1992) and Chairman of the Board (since 1997) of the New York Times, positions previously held by his father, the late Arthur Ochs Sulzberger who died September 29 of this year.