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Former Baltimoreans Ta-Nehisi Coates, Noelle Stevenson finalists for National Book Award

Former Baltimoreans Ta-Nehisi Coates, Noelle Stevenson finalists for National Book Award
Ta-Nehisi Coates, a provocative African-American leader, speaks at the Martin Luther King convocation at Loyola University. (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun)

Ta-Nehisi Coates and Noelle Stevenson, two authors with Baltimore connections, have been chosen as finalists for the National Book Award for 2015.

Coates, 40, who grew up in West Baltimore and lives now in Paris, is nominated in the non-fiction category for "Between the World and Me," a long essay to his teenage son that explores the roots of racial violence in America.

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The 23-year-old Stevenson, a graduate of the Maryland Institute College for Art who now lives in California, was nominated in the young person's literature category for writing and illustrating "Nimona," her first solo work. She has said she began the book while a student at MICA.

The list of five finalists in each category was revealed Wednesday in a news release, and the winners will be announced Nov. 18 at a ceremony in New York. Each winner will receive $10,000 and a bronze statue, while finalists will be awarded $1,000 and a bronze medal.

The finalists list was culled from 1,428 submissions of books that will be published between Dec. 1, 2014 and Nov. 30, 2015, according to the release. There were 419 fiction nominations, 494 non-fiction submissions, 221 candidates for the poetry prize and 294 candidates for young people's literature.

The longlist of 10 books in each category was announced in September.

2015 is shaping up to be a very good year for Coates, a national correspondent at the Atlantic, who last month received a MacArthur "Genius Grant."

The two authors have something in common other than their Baltimore roots; Stevenson describes herself as a cartoonist, and Coates will be writing the scripts for a new Black Panther series for Marvel Comics that is expected to come out sometime next year.

mary.mccauley@baltsun.com

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