890-page rewrite wins nod for Matthiessen

Talk about second chances: Peter Matthiessen, 81, received a National Book Award nomination Wednesday for “Shadow Country,” an 890-page revision of a trilogy of novels he released in the 1990s.

Others in the fiction category included Marilynne Robinson for “Home,” a companion novel to her Pulitzer Prize-winning “Gilead”; Aleksandar Hemon for “The Lazarus Project”; and debut authors Salvatore Scibona (“The End”) and Rachel Kushner (“Telex From Cuba”).

Among the nonfiction finalists were Jane Mayer for “The Dark Side,” an investigation into the war against terrorism, and Annette Gordon-Reed's “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.” Richard Howard and Mark Doty were nominees for poetry; Laurie Halse Anderson, for young people's literature.

Winners, each of whom receive $10,000, will be announced Nov. 19. Honorary prizes will be given to author Maxine Hong Kingston and publisher Barney Rosset.

Matthiessen, long known as an environmentalist, travel writer and spiritualist, is among the oldest writers to receive a fiction nomination. He won a National Book Award in 1979 for his nonfiction “The Snow Leopard,” and in the 1950s was a founder of the Paris Review.

He worked for years condensing and reorganizing “Killing Mr. Watson,” “Lost Man's River” and “Bone by Bone” – three novels about a community in Florida's Everglades at the turn of the 20th century and the predatory planter E.J. Watson.

The original material was so thoroughly changed that Matthiessen – and the award judges, apparently – considered “Shadow Country” a new book.