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Former KC critic is finalist for National Book Award

Updated: 2013-09-22T04:17:39Z

By STEVE PAUL

The Kansas City Star

A biography of Duke Ellington by former Kansas Citian Terry Teachout is a finalist for a National Book Award in nonfiction.

Other contenders for the National Book Foundation 2013 nonfiction prize include “Going Clear,” an investigation into the cult of Scientology, by Lawrence Wright; “The Unwinding,” a narrative account of economic and social upheaval in the U.S., by George Packer; two books about slavery — Alan Taylor’s “The Internal Enemy” and James Oakes’ “Freedom National”; T.D. Allman’s “Finding Florida: The True Story of the Sunshine State”; Gretel Ehrlich’s “Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami”; Scott C. Johnson’s “The Wolf and the Watchman: A Father, a Son, and the CIA”; Jill Lepore’s “Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin”; and Wendy Lower’s “Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields.”

Categories will be reduced to lists of five each next month, and winners will be announced Nov. 20 at a ceremony in Manhattan. E.L. Doctorow and Maya Angelou will receive honorary prizes.

Teachout, a Missouri native and graduate of William Jewell College, was a music critic for The Star in the 1980s and now serves as theater critic for the Wall Street Journal. “Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington,” which is scheduled to be published next month, is his second jazz biography, following “Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong” (2009).

The preliminary list of fiction nominees includes the two novels reviewed on these pages today, Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Lowlands” and Alice McDermott’s “Someone.”

Among poetry nominees is Andrei Codrescu, the Romanian writer who lives in northern Arkansas and has read his work periodically in Kansas City. For all the lists, see the National Book Awards website.

Steve Paul, senior writer and arts editor, 816-234-4762, paul@kcstar.com; on Twitter: @sbpaul

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