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National Book Award Nominations Announced : Literature: Nominees include two first-time novelists and an 88-year-old writer.

October 20, 1990|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — The nominees for fiction in the 1990 National Book Awards include two first-time novelists and an 88-year-old author who completed his work in 1948 but could not find a publisher until last year.

The nominees were announced Thursday by the National Book Foundation, the nonprofit organization that sponsors the annual awards.

The fiction nominees include Felipe Alfau, an 88-year-old Spanish native who immigrated to the United States during World War I. His book "Chromos" is set in Manhattan in the 1930s and written in a dialect called Iberian English. It was published by Dalkey Archive Press.

Two other first-time novelists nominated in the fiction category are also immigrants.

Elena Castedo, born in Chile, wrote "Paradise," about a Latin American ghetto family. The work was published by Grove Weidenfeld.

Jessica Hagedorn's "Dogeaters," published by Pantheon Books, explores native tradition and popular American culture colliding in the Philippines, Hagedorn's homeland.

The other fiction nominees are Charles Johnson for his work "Middle Passage," published by Atheneum Publishers, and Joyce Carol Oates for "Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart," published by E.P. Dutton-William Abrahams Books.

Johnson's historical novel charts a newly freed slave's voyage aboard a slave clipper ship bound for Africa in 1830. Oates, who won the 1970 National Book Award for fiction, wrote about an adolescent girl's coming of age in the 1950s and '60s.

The finalists in the nonfiction category are:

* Ron Chernow for "The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance," published by Morgan Entrekin Books-Atlantic Monthly Press.

* Samuel G. Freedman for "Small Victories: The Real World of a Teacher, Her Students and Their High School," published by HarperCollins.

* Roger Morris for "Richard Milhous Nixon: The Rise of an American Politician," published by Henry Holt.

* Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith for "Jackson Pollock: An American Saga," published by Clarkson N. Potter.

* T. H. Watkins for "Righteous Pilgrim: The Life and Times of Harold L. Ickes, 1874-1952," published by Henry Holt.

Judges selected the nominees from a record submission of 375 books. The two winners will be announced at a Nov. 27 dinner in New York. Each receives a $10,000 check and a newly commissioned sculpture marking the awards' 40th year.

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