Bay Area Authors Jamel Brinkley, Rae Armantrout Among National Book Awards Finalists

Jamel Brinkley is a National Book Awards finalist in the fiction category.  (Arash Saedinia)

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.

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Winners of the National Book Awards, now in its 69th year, will be announced Nov. 14 following readings at the New School in New York City. The prize comes with a $10,000 award.

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