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Wednesday
May022012

1952

Requiem for a Nun

By William Faulkner

Original Publisher: Random House

Current Publisher: Vintage International

Fiction Finalists That Year:

Fiction Winner That Year: James Jones for From Here to Eternity

Fiction Judges That Year: Robert Gorham Davis, Brendan Gill, Lloyd Morris, Budd Schulberg, Jean Stafford

The Year in Literature:

  • The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
  • François Mauriac won the Nobel Prize for literature.

More Information: The protagonist in Requiem for a Nun is Temple Drake, a character introduced in one of Faulkner’s earlier novels, Sanctuary (1931).

Wednesday
May022012

1952

The Grass Harp

By Truman Capote

Original Publisher: Random House

Current Publisher: Vintage Books

Fiction Finalists That Year:

Fiction Winner That Year: James Jones for From Here to Eternity

Fiction Judges That Year: Robert Gorham Davis, Brendan Gill, Lloyd Morris, Budd Schulberg, Jean Stafford

The Year in Literature:

  • The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
  • François Mauriac won the Nobel Prize for literature.

More Information: Capote was a Fiction Judge in 1974, the year that Thomas Pynchon won the Award for Gravity’s Rainbow

Wednesday
May022012

1952

The Morning Watch

By James Agee

Original Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company

Current Publisher: Out of Print

Fiction Finalists That Year:

Fiction Winner That Year: James Jones for From Here to Eternity

Fiction Judges That Year: Robert Gorham Davis, Brendan Gill, Lloyd Morris, Budd Schulberg, Jean Stafford

The Year in Literature:

  • The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
  • François Mauriac won the Nobel Prize for literature.

More Information: Agee was a Fiction Finalist a second time, in 1958 for A Death in the Family.

Wednesday
May022012

1951

* Special Citation

The Trouble of One House

By Brendan Gill

Original Publisher: Doubleday Company

Current Publisher: Out of Print

Other Fiction Finalists That Year: Not announced

Fiction Winner That Year: William Faulkner for The Collected Stories of William Faulkner

Fiction Judges That Year: Maxwell Geismar, Granville Hicks, Charles Rolo, Willard Thorp, Eudora Welty

The Year in Literature: 

  • The Town by Conrad Richter won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
  • Pär Lagerkvist won the Nobel Prize for literature.

More Information: 

  • * Gill was not officially a Finalist, but the Fiction Jury decided to award him a special citation.
  • Gill wrote for The New Yorker for more than sixty years and published a bestselling memoir, Here at The New Yorker (1975), about his experiences at the magazine.
Tuesday
May012012

The Contenders: 61 Years of National Book Award Fiction Finalists

An Online Exhibition

Since the Award’s inception in 1950, a total of 80 books have won the National Book Award for Fiction. These range from the well known and well loved―Saul Bellow’s Herzog and Flannery O’Connor’s Complete Stories―to the lesser known―Walter Wangerin, Jr.’s The Book of the Dun Cow―and out of print―John O’Hara’s Ten North Frederick. But regardless of their present status, each of these books will forever be a National Book Award Winner, the best of the best American fiction that year.

But what about the books and authors that didn’t win, the hundreds of Fiction Finalists that only came close? You might guess that these are even less familiar than the unfamiliar Winners, but the list delivers many surprises. Hemingway, Nabokov, Vonnegut, Morrison, Paley―all were nominated, some more than once, but none ever won the National Book Award. The long list of Fiction Finalists offers other surprises, too. Did you know that Edwin O’Connor, a Finalist in 1957 for The Last Hurrah, coined the term “last hurrah”? Or that Lucille Kallen, nominated in 1980 for Introducing C.B. Greenfield, was the only woman on the team of comedy writers for Sid Caesar's ''Your Show of Shows,'' which was broadcast live on Saturday nights from 1950 to 1954?

We encourage you to get to know these 373 NBA-nominated works of fiction and their authors, and we invite you to share your comments at the bottom of each exhibition page. Also, since information on some of the Finalists is scarce, we welcome any additional materials (biographical information, photos, speeches, etc.) that you might be able to contribute to the exhibition. Please email us at nationalbook@nationalbook.org.

Thanks for visiting!

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