Academics are making a comeback—at least as finalists in the National Book Awards’ Nonfiction list. In 2012, there was nary a university-based scholar in that slot, although other categories had several.
Of the five finalists in Nonfiction announced on Wednesday, three have academic affiliations.
Jill Lepore, a professor of American history at Harvard University, is a finalist for Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Alfred A. Knopf).
Wendy Lower, up for Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), is a professor of history at Claremont McKenna College and a research associate at the Ludwig Maximilian University, in Munich.
Alan Taylor, a professor of history at the University of Virgina, is a finalist for The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (W.W. Norton).
This year’s Fiction and Poetry finalists also included authors with academic links and gave the nod to one university press.
In Fiction, James McBride, up for The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead Books), is a writer in residence at New York University.
George Saunders, nominated for Tenth of December, (Random House) is a professor of English at Syracuse University.
Frank Bidart, up for Metaphysical Dog (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux), is a professor of English at Wellesley College.
Lucie Brock-Broido, author of the collection Stay, Illusion (Knopf), is director of poetry in the School of the Arts at Columbia University.
Adrian Matejka, nominated for The Big Smoke (Penguin), is an assistant professor of English at Indiana University at Bloomington.
Matt Rasmussen, up for Black Aperture (Louisiana State University Press), is a visiting assistant professor of English at Gustavus Adolphus College.
Mary Szybist, author of Incarnadine (Graywolf Press), is an associate professor of English at Lewis & Clark College.
Finally in Young Adult Literature, Kathi Appelt, author of The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp (Atheneum), is on the faculty of Vermont College’s M.F.A. program.
Further information, including the list of judges, can be found on the NBA’s Web site. Winners will be announced on November 20.