After shuffling up its usual nominating process, the National Book Foundation has announced the very first long-list of finalists for the National Book Awards, the Associated Press reports.
Today's reveal is the Young People's Literature category, a list that notably includes Kate DiCamillo and David Levithan. DiCamillo was nominated on the strength of Flora & Ulysses, her new superhero story, though if you've set foot in a sixth grade English class in the past 13 years, you're likely to recognize her from her novel Because of Winn-Dixie, which spawned a movie adaptation in 2005. (DiCamillo also garnered a Newbery with 2004's The Tale of Despereaux.) Levithan, the Scholastic staffer who co-authored Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist in 2006 before Michael Cera swooped in for the screen, was nominated for Two Boys Kissing, the latest of his many LGBT-themed novels for young adults.
The other YA novelists to get a nod are Kathi Appelt, Lisa Graff, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Cynthia Kadohata, Tom McNeal, Meg Rosoff, Anne Ursu, and Gene Luen Yang, whose nominated books can be found next to their names on the NBF website. If those names don't ring a bell, you're probably not alone—as the AP reports, publishers have been rather, err, displeased at the foundation's penchant for lesser-known titles:
Publishers, some of whom sit on the book foundation’s board and contribute thousands of dollars for tables at the ceremony, have worried in recent years that judges—especially fiction judges—have been overlooking such high-profile books as Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom” in favor of more obscure releases. Anxious for the National Book Awards to match, or least approach, the commercial power of Britain’s Man Booker Prize, the board added long-lists and expanded the pool of judges
The new nominating process is meant to spur "increased attention and sales." Few, though, are likely to dispute the honorary awards that will be handed to Maya Angelou and E.L. Doctorow, as we reported earlier this month. Poetry, nonfiction, and fiction nominees are coming later this week.