National Book Award finalists have local ties


Finalists for the 2013 National Book Awards were released Wednesday, a list that includes a fair number of writers who are local — or at least localish. Jhumpa Lahiri, nominated in the fiction category for her novel “The Lowland,” received a master’s degree in creative writing from Boston University and often sets her stories in and around Cambridge. (Also nominated for fiction: Thomas Pynchon for “Bleeding Edge,” James McBride for “The Good Lord Bird,” Rachel Kushner for “The Flamethrowers,” and George Saunders for “Tenth of December.”) Among the finalists in nonfiction: Harvard professor and Cambridge resident Jill Lepore for “Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin” and George Packer — a former Cambridge resident — for his book “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America.” (Fun fact: Packer penned a novel called “Central Square” back in 1998.) Alan Taylor, nominated for “The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832,” earned his doctorate at Brandeis and taught at BU. The poetry category boasts a couple of local names as well, perhaps none so well known as Frank Bidart, nominated for “Metaphysical Dog.” Bidart teaches at Wellesley College.

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