For a distinguished volume of original verse by an American author, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Awarded to "Life on Mars," by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf Press), a collection of bold, skillful poems, taking readers into the universe and moving them to an authentic mix of joy and pain.
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: "Core Samples from the World," by Forrest Gander (New Directions), a compelling work that explores cross-cultural tensions in the world and digs deeply to identify what is essential in human experience, and "How Long," by Ron Padgett (Coffee House Press), an enchanting collection of poems that juggle delight, wit and endless fascination with language.
For distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Nominated as finalists in this category were: "Train Dreams," by Denis Johnson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a novella about a day laborer in the old American West, bearing witness to terrors and glories with compassionate, heartbreaking calm; "Swamplandia!" by Karen Russell (Alfred A. Knopf), an adventure tale about an eccentric family adrift in its failing alligator-wrestling theme park, told by a 13-year-old heroine wise beyond her years, and "The Pale King,” by the late David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown and Company), a posthumously completed novel, animated by grand ambition, that explores boredom and bureaucracy in the American workplace.