Shortlists for the National Book Awards went public Wednesday, halving the number of nominees to just 20 finalists. Among the books that have survived the second round of cuts, a few clear favorites are beginning to emerge — while others have been displaced by less familiar names.

The full lists of finalists can be found below.

Updated at 8:09 a.m. ET

Investigative journalist Svetlana Alexievich has been awarded this year's Nobel Prize for Literature, the Swedish Academy announced Thursday. Alexievich is the first writer from Belarus to win the prize.

Alexievich won "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time," according to the citation for the award.

Nancy Pearl
KUOW Photo

First-time novelist Elisabeth Egan spent most of her career writing about other people's books as a literary editor for magazines and websites. That provided the fodder for Egan's "A Window Opens," about a literary editor who finds what she thinks might be the job of her dreams.

Nancy Pearl talks with KUOW's Marcie Sillman about the novel and what makes an author's first book great.

Business is brisk at the Ole Curiosities and Book Shoppe, a block off the town square in Monroeville, Ala.

Jennifer Brinkley and her friend Leigh Mikovch are at the counter, putting in a pre-order for Go Set a Watchman, the much anticipated forthcoming book from Harper Lee.

"We're big Harper Lee fans and To Kill a Mockingbird fans," Brinkley says.

Both are writers from Bowling Green, Ky. They're visiting Monroeville for the annual Alabama Writers Symposium. Brinkley says it will be meaningful to have the new book come from Lee's hometown.

Marcie Sillman talks to author Christine Dupres about her new book "Being Cowlitz: How One Tribe Renewed And Sustained Its Identity." 

Novelist Günter Grass, the Nobel laureate who is perhaps best known for his novel The Tin Drum and who shocked his country when he revealed in 2006 that he had been a member of the Waffen SS in the last months of World War II, has died. Grass was 87.

The news was announced by his publisher, Steidl Verlag, in a statement on its website. The publisher said Grass died at a clinic in the town of Lübeck, Germany. It did not provide a cause of death.

Children's Books: Poem Depot And Thomas Jefferson

Feb 21, 2014
Flickr Photo/Anne and Tim (CC BY-NC-ND)

Steve Scher talks with librarian Nancy Pearl about her latest book recommendations for children. She says she admires everything by Maira Kalman, including her new book, “Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything.”

If you're a fan of poems by Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky, Pearl heartily recommends "Poem Depot: Aisles of Smiles" by Douglas Florian.

Karen Finneyfrock
Courtesy of Inti St. Clair

A  Metro bus ride inspires poet, novelist and teaching artist Karen Finneyfrock to find a delightfully surprising personification for Northwest springtime in her poem "Monster."

Cover image of Marjorie Manwaring's book
Mayapple Press

As spring edges out winter and previously bare tree limbs are suddenly effusive with blossoms, there's a sense that almost anything -- or anyone -- deserves a second chance. In her poem "A Quiet," poet Marjorie Manwaring meditates on alternative endings and the possibility of redemption.

Colleen McElroy
Photo Credit/Ingrid Papp-Sheldon

In her poem "What Stays Here," Colleen McElroy imagines life as a female soldier who must choose between loyalty to herself, and loyalty to a military code that says "keep quiet" and "get along." Like many of the poems in McElroy's ninth collection, "Here I Throw Down My Heart," (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012) the poem awakens us to voices and stories we might otherwise never hear with such intimacy and power.

A True Story Of A Slave And Master

Mar 25, 2013
Underground Railroad map

Charles Mitchell was a teenage slave of  Washington’s surveyor general, James Tilton. In 1860, with the help of the West’s underground railroad, Charles Mitchell escaped to Victoria, British Columbia, and won his freedom. Public historian Lorraine McConaghy tells Ross Reynolds the story and discusses how she came to write her latest book, "Free Boy: A True Story of Slave and Master."

The Creative Class: Dismissed?

Mar 25, 2013
Downtown Tacoma
Flickr Photo/Scott Hingst

More than a decade ago, Richard Florida’s best-selling book, “The Rise of the Creative Class,” was a cultural phenomenon. Florida argued that young, educated, single folks would reinvent American cities. Today, Florida's critics say the wealth of the creative class hasn't trickled down to the working class. What’s the evidence? Some places, like Tacoma, used Richard Florida’s ideas as a blueprint for reinventing their downtown areas. What was the outcome? We’ll explore these ideas with journalist and geographer Joel Kotkin and Tacoma arts administrator Amy McBride.

Madeline Albright
AP Photo/Gurinder Osan

Madeleine Albright was the first woman to hold the Secretary of State position for former president Bill Clinton. She became known as an advocate for peace in the Middle East and for bringing war criminals to justice. In her new memoir, she chronicles her traumatic early life in Prague during the Nazi occupation, through the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War.

Rising Popularity Of Microhousing

Mar 14, 2013
Flickr Photo/Jseattle/Capitol Hill Seattle Blog

As the cost of living continues to rise in the city, people are finding it harder to find an affordable place to live. To accommodate the demand, developers are building microhousing -- tiny studio apartments with private bathrooms that share a kitchen with other units. The microhouses boast affordable living in high-demand neighborhoods such as Capitol Hill and the University District. However, residents in some neighborhoods fear the developments skirt zoning laws and create too much density too fast. City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen is considering legislation that could put new restrictions on microhousing. He joins us to explain.

Carolyne Wright
Photo Credit/Erik Rucker

It can be hard to know how to respond to tragedies on the scale of the Newtown, Conn. shooting. We want to do something, but what?