The National Book Awards are given to U.S. authors for works published between December 2004 and November of this year. The winners will be announced Nov. 16.
The only previous winner among the fiction finalists is E.L. Doctorow, who is nominated for "The March."
Other fiction nominees announced Wednesday are "Holy Skirts," by René Steinke; "Europe Central" by William T. Vollmann; "Trance" by Christopher Sorrentino; and "Veronica" by Mary Gaitskill.
Joan Didion leads the list of non-fiction nominees with "The Year of Magical Thinking," an account of her husband's death and daughter's illness. The other non-fiction finalists are "102 Minutes: The Untold Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers" by New York Times reporters Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn; "Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves" by Adam Hochschild; "Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius" by Leo Damrosch; and "Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion" by Alan Burdick.
Pulitzer Prizes winner WS Merwin and John Ashbery are nominated in the poetry division along with Frank Bidart, Brendan Galvin and Vern Rutsala.
First-time novelist Jeanne Birdsall got a nod in the young people's category for "The Penderwicks." Other nominees include Walter Dean Myers for "Autobiography of My Dead Brother"; Adele Griffin's "Where I Want to Be"; "Inexcusable" by Chris Lynch and "Each Little Bird that Sings" by Deborah Wiles.