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The National Book Awards' list of finalists features literary mainstays like Thomas Pynchon and Jhumpa Lahiri, while also employing a new promotional strategy to get people to read these celebrated works.

The inclusion of Pynchon's Bleeding Edge and Lahiri's The Lowland among the five authors nominated for the fiction award should come as no surprise, as both have been regarded with critical and popular acclaim. Pynchon has already won a National Book Award in 1974 for his Gravity's Rainbow, while Lahiri (pictured above) boasts a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction from 2000. Those two are the only authors on the fiction shortlist that remain on the New York Times bestseller's list for hardcover fiction, and should be the predictable favorites for the award.

But not all is staid for the National Book Awards. On Wednesday, for the first time, the awards group will release excerpts from each of the finalists' works. The Contenders: Excerpts from the 2013 National Book Award Finalists will be a free e-book download featuring small parts from the writings in the fiction, non-fiction, young adult, and poetry categories.

The non-fiction shortlist, too, features regular New Yorker writers in Jill Lepore and George Packer, as well as Pulitzer Prize-winner Alan Taylor. The poetry section, meanwhile, is led by powerhouse Frank Bidart, and the young adult shortlist features a more indie style of writing.

Here's the entire list of finalists:


- Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers (Scribner/Simon & Schuster) 
- Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House) 
- James McBride, The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead Books/Penguin Group USA) 
- Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (The Penguin Press/Penguin Group USA) 
- George Saunders, Tenth of December (Random House)


- Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin
- Wendy Lower, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields
- George Packer, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America
- Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832
- Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief


- Frank Bidart, Metaphysical Dog
- Lucie Brock-Broido, Stay, Illusion
- Adrian Matejka, The Big Smoke
- Matt Rasmussen, Black Aperture
- Mary Szybist, Incarnadine: Poems

Young people's literature:

- Kathi Appelt, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp 
- Cynthia Kadohata, The Thing About Luck 
- Tom McNeal, Far Far Away
- Meg Rosoff, Picture Me Gone
- Gene Luen Yang, Boxers & Saints

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