W.W. Norton placed four books among the 20 titles selected last week as finalists for the 1999 National Book Awards. Other publishers with multiple nominations were Random House with three (two for Knopf and one for Pantheon) and Farrar, Straus & Giroux, also with three.
The finalists for fiction are Andre Dubus III's House of Sand and Fog (Norton), Kent Haruf's Plainsong (Knopf), Patricia Henley's Hummingbird House (MacMurray & Beck), Ha Jin's Waiting (Pantheon) and Jean Thompson's short story collection, Who Do You Love? (Harcourt Brace).
Finalists for nonfiction are Natalie Angier's Woman: An Intimate Geography (Houghton Mifflin), Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War (Atlantic Monthly Press), John W. Dower's Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (a joint Norton/New Press publication), John Phillip Santos's Places Unfinished at the Time of Creation (Viking) and Judith Thurman's Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette (Knopf).
The nod to first novelist Henley is also the first for esteemed Denver-based small press MacMurray & Beck. A number of booksellers contacted by PW were pleased that MacMurray & Beck had been recognized, although some felt the house's Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland would have been a better choice. Booksellers were not the least bit surprised that Edmund Morris's Dutch was not among the nonfiction finalists.
In its official release on the nominations, the National Book Foundation noted that it had received a record number of submissions from smaller presses and imprints this year, although the number of overall submissions dropped from 916 to 881 titles.
Finalists in the young people's literature category are Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak (FSG), Louise Erdrich's The Birchbark House (Hyperion), Kimberly Willis Holt's When Zachary Beaver Came to Town (Holt), Polly Horvath's The Trolls (FSG) and Walter Dean Myers's Monster (HarperCollins.)
And, finally, previous NBA finalist Louise Gluck gets another nomination this year for her p try collection Vita Nova: P ms (Ecco Press). Her fellow nominees are Ai for Vice: New and Selected P ms (Norton), Clarence Major for Configurations: New & Selected P ms 1958“1998 (Copper Canyon), Sherod Santos for The Pilot Star Elegies (Norton) and C.K. Williams for Repair (FSG).
Booksellers contacted by PW said they will probably display the nominees together, and noted they expect the biggest sales boost to be for the winners, which will be announced at NBA's 50th anniversary ceremony on Wednesday, November 17, where Oprah Winfrey will receive a special award and Steve Martin will serve as master of ceremonies.