Two authors with significant Bay Area ties are among 25 finalists in five categories of the prestigious National Book Awards, the National Book Foundation announced Wednesday.
Short-story collection A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley, a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford University, is competing in the fiction category, and Wobble by Rae Armantrout, a Vallejo-born poet associated with the Language movement, is in the running for poetry.
A Lucky Man, Brinkley's debut collection, critically examines masculinity through nine short-stories set in Brooklyn and the South Bronx. In a May review, KQED Arts book columnist Ingrid Rojas Contreras wrote that A Lucky Man "acknowledges male stereotypes while subverting them and exploring the psychic damage they leave in their wake," while the New Yorker called it a "trenchant exploration of race and class."
Wobble, meanwhile, is described by its publisher as "sometimes funny, sometimes alarming" body of poems that "play peek-a-boo with doom." The Poetry Foundation calls Armantrout a founding member of the West Coast group of avant-garde Language poets. The 71-year-old UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University graduate, who currently teaches literature at UC San Diego, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for Versed, which was also a National Book Awards finalist.
Judges culled the finalists from 1,637 books. In September, Brinkley and Armantrout were longlisted alongside books by four other Bay Area authors: Daniel Gumbiner, Tommy Orange, Elizabeth Partridge and Rebecca Solnit.