Quite a stretch for MIT creative writing professor Junot Diaz. Barely a week after winning a prestigious MacArthur grant for his writing, Diaz, 43, is a fiction finalist for a National Book Award for his work, “This is How You Lose Her.” The finalists were announced Wednesday morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show. The winners will be named on Nov. 14.
Diaz has company from this area among the finalists. Acclaimed poet David Ferry, who is 88 and who lives in Brookline, is an emeritus professor at Wellesley College while also teaching at Boston University and Suffolk University. He is a finalist for poetry. Last year he won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and donated the $100,000 award to various social service groups.
Also nominated for a National Book Award, posthumously, is Anthony Shadid, the award-winning foreign correspondent who wrote for The Boston Globe before The New York Times. Shadid died in February while in Syria at the age of 43. His non-fiction book, “House of Stone,” was released a few weeks later to rave reviews.
After winning $500,000 for being named a MacArthur Fellow, Diaz referenced how he feels about his writing being honored with one of the so-called “genius grants.”
“I can only tell you that if I see a genius it is in my material and the inspiration for my writing—the lives and history and story of Hispanic peoples and our journeys on this planet, particularly to the United States,” Diaz told the Globe’s James Burnett for that piece.
The other National Book Awards finalists in fiction are: Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King, Louise Erdrich, The Round House, Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds.
In non-fiction, the finalists are: Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956; Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity; Robert A. Caro, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume 4; Domingo Martinez, The Boy Kings of Texas; Anthony Shadid, House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East.
And in poetry, the finalists are: David Ferry, Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations; Cynthia Huntington, Heavenly Bodies; Tim Seibles, Fast Animal; Alan Shapiro, Night of the Republic; Susan Wheeler, Meme.