National Book Awards - 2012
Judges' Bios


Stacey D’Erasmo is the author of the novels Tea (2000), A Seahorse Year (2004), and The Sky Below (2009), and is the recipient of a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship in Fiction. Her essays, features, and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, the Boston Review, Bookforum, and Ploughshares, among other publications. She is an assistant professor of writing at Columbia University.

Dinaw Mengestu is the author of two novels, The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears (2007) and How to Read the Air (2010). He received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction and a Lannan Literary Fellowship, among other honors. He was named a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree and a New Yorker “20 under 40” writer to watch. He lives between Paris and Washington DC with his wife and two sons.

Lorrie Moore is the author of three story collections and three novels, the most recent being A Gate at the Stairs (2009), a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The Paris Review, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. She has been the recipient of the Irish Times Prize for International Fiction, the Rea Award for the Short Story, the PEN/Malamud Award, the O. Henry Award, and a Lannan fellowship. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

A finalist for the National Book Award in 1996, Janet Peery is the author of Alligator Dance (1993), The River Beyond the World (1996), and What the Thunder Said (2007). Honors include a Whiting Foundation award, NEA and Guggenheim fellowships, and the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy. Short stories appear in American Short Fiction, The Southern Review, Shenandoah, The Kenyon Review, Southwest Review, Quarterly West, The Best American Short Stories, and other publications.


Brad Gooch’s most recent book, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor (2009), was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He is also the author of City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O’Hara (1993) and Godtalk (2002). Recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities and Guggenheim fellowships, he is a professor of English at William Paterson University and lives in New York City.

Linda Gordon is University Professor of the Humanities at NYU. She is one of only three historians to have won the Bancroft Prize for best book in American history twice: in 2000 for The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction, which also won the Beveridge Award for best book on the history of the Americas, and in 2010 for her biography of Dorothea Lange. She has also written histories of birth control, domestic violence, and welfare.

Woody Holton is the McCausland Professor of American History at the University of South Carolina. His 2009 book, Abigail Adams, won the Bancroft Prize. Holton is the author of Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution (2007), a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize and the National Book Award. His first book, Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia (1999), won the Organization of American Historians’ Merle Curti Award.

Susan Orlean has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1992. She is the author of seven books, including Saturday Night (1990), The Orchid Thief (1998), which was made into the Academy Award-winning film “Adaptation,” and, most recently, Rin Tin Tin (2011). She lives with her family and her animals in upstate New York.

Judith Shulevitz is a writer and magazine editor who helped to start Slate and Lingua Franca, which won a National Magazine Award for General Excellence under her editorship. She is now a contributing editor at The New Republic and regular contributor to The New York Times Book Review. Her book, The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time (2010), was a New York Times Notable Book and a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.


Laura Kasischke has published eight collections of poetry, most recently Space, In Chains (2011), for which she received the National Book Critics Circle Award. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow and has won two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also published several novels. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of Michigan and lives in Chelsea, Michigan with her husband and son.

Dana Levin is the author of In the Surgical Theatre (1999), Wedding Day (2005), and Sky Burial, which was noted for 2011 year-end honors by The New Yorker, the San Francisco Chronicle, Library Journal, and Coldfront. A recipient of fellowships from the Rona Jaffe, Whiting, and Guggenheim Foundations, Levin chairs the Creative Writing and Literature Department at Santa Fe University of Art and Design in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Maurice Manning's most recent book of poetry, The Common Man, was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize. He is professor of English and writer in residence at Transylvania University and is currently a Guggenheim fellow. He lives in Kentucky.

Patrick Rosal is the author of three full-length poetry collections: Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive (2003), My American Kundiman (2006), and Boneshepherds (2011). His poems and essays have appeared in Tin House, The American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, and other publications. He has won, among other honors, a Fulbright Fellowship, the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award, and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop Members’ Choice Award. He is a member of the Creative Writing faculty at Rutgers University-Camden.

Tracy K. Smith is the author of three books of poetry: The Body’s Question, selected for the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize; Duende, recipient of the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets; and Life on Mars, a New York Times Notable Book in 2011 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2012. Smith teaches Creative Writing at Princeton University.


Born and raised in England, Susan Cooper has been writing books for children and young adults since 1963. Her classic five-book fantasy sequence, The Dark Is Rising, won the Newbery Medal and Carnegie and Newbery Honors, and she is the 2012 recipient of the American Library Association’s Margaret Edwards Award for lifetime achievement. A board member of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance, she lives on an island in a saltmarsh in Massachusetts.

Daniel Ehrenhaft is a bestselling author of books for teens, among them The Wessex Papers, winner of the 2003 Edgar Award, and most recently Americapedia (2011), which The New York Times has called "Jon Stewart's America for the YA set." As an editor, he helped to create the Gossip Girl and Peaches series. He is now Editorial Director of Soho Teen, whose first list launches in January, 2013.

Judith Ortiz Cofer is the author the YA story collection An Island Like You (1995); YA novels The Meaning of Consuelo (2003), Call Me Maria (2004), and If I Could Fly (2011); and other works. She has published poetry and prose in The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, Glamour, and other journals and anthologies. She is the Regents and Franklin Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.

Gary D. Schmidt is a Professor of English at Calvin College, where he teaches courses in writing, medieval literature, and children's literature. He is the author of the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor-winning novel Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (2004), the Newbery Honor- winning The Wednesday Wars (2007), and Okay for Now, a National Book Award finalist in 2011. He lives on a two-hundred-year-old farm in Alto, Michigan.

Marly Youmans is the author of nine books, including novels, poetry collections, and several Southern fantasies for young adults. She is the recipient of the Michael Shaara Prize and was a finalist for the Southern Book Award for The Wolf Pit (2001), won the Ferrol Sams Award for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage (2012), and received several Hoepfner Awards, among other honors. A Carolinian, she lives in Cooperstown, New York with her husband and three children.