Harvardians Long-listed for National Book Awards
The National Book Foundation has announced the shortlists for this year’s awards, cutting the nominees by half to leave five titles in each category. Evan Osnos ’98 and Professor E. O. Wilson are finalists in nonfiction, Maureen N. McLane ’89 and Fred Moten ’84 in poetry, and Eliot Schrefer ’01 in young people’s literature.
Winners will be announced at a ceremony and dinner on November 19.
Members of the Harvard community were long-listed in three National Book Award categories last week.
Four of the 10 nonfiction nominations are University affiliates. New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos ’98 was nominated for his book on contemporary China, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China. The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic, by John Demos ’59, G ’68, RI ’07, was also recognized. Overseer Walter Isaacson ’74 was nominated for his book about inventors of the digital era, The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. This magazine published an excerpt, on Bill Gates ’77, LL.D. ’07, last fall.
Pulitzer Prize-winner and Pellegrino University Research Professor emeritus E.O. Wilson takes on no smaller a subject than the “Anthropocene Epoch” itself in The Meaning of Human Existence, which also made the nonfiction long list. (Wilson was profiled in the magazine’s March-April 2003 issue; a review of his book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge appeared in 1998.)
In the poetry category, Maureen N. McLane ’89, who taught at Harvard from 2004 to 2008, was honored for her fourth book of poetry, This Blue. Spencer Reece, M.T.S. ’90, an Episcopal priest whose debut poetry collection was adapted into a short film by James Franco, appeared on the long list for The Road to Emmaus. Fred Moten ’84 was nominated for his collection The Feel Trio. After a difficult first year at the College, he took some time off and found a job at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site in Las Vegas. He produced 1,000 sonnets during his time there, before returning to Cambridge.
In addition, Eliot Schrefer ’01 was recognized in the young adult and children’s literature category for Threatened, about a human orphan who finds a home in the jungle with a family of chimpanzees. Schrefer was previously nominated, in 2012, for his book Endangered. The two novels form the first half of a planned quartet about the great apes.
Each category in the long list will be cut in half; the resulting short list will be announced on October 15. Winners will be named at a ceremony a month later.