The 20 Finalists for the National Book Awards in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature were announced Wednesday, and recent MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship recipient and Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz is among them.
Díaz’s short story collection, This Is How You Lose Her, has been nominated for the fiction category.
On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness―and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own.
Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic and is the author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist; and the critically acclaimed Drown. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, African Voices, and numerous Best American Short Stories anthologies. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, PEN/Malamud Award, Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Guggenheim Fellowship, and PEN/O. Henry Award, among other accolades. A graduate of Rutgers College, Díaz is currently the fiction editor at Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Domingo Martinez’s The Boy Kings of Texas has also been nominated, but in the nonfiction category.
Domingo Martinez lays bare his interior and exterior worlds as he struggles to make sense of the violent and the ugly, along with the beautiful and the loving, in a Texas border town in the 1980s. Partly a reflection on the culture of machismo and partly an exploration of the author’s boyhood spent in his sister’s hand-me-down clothes, The Boy Kings of Texas delves into the enduring and complex bond between Martinez and his deeply flawed but fiercely protective older brother, Daniel, and features a cast of memorable characters. Charming, painful and enlightening, this book examines the traumas and pleasures of growing up in South Texas and the often terrible consequences when two very different cultures collide on the banks of a dying river.
Martinez has worked as a journalist and designer in Texas and in Seattle. His work has appeared in Epiphany, he has contributed to The New Republic, and he read an adaptation of “The Mimis” on “This American Life” in 2011. An excerpt from The Boy Kings of Texas was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Martinez lives in Seattle.
The National Book Awards Ceremony will be held in New York on November 14.