Karen Tei Yamashita, professor of literature and co-director of the Creative Writing Program at UC Santa Cruz, has been nominated for a 2010 National Book Award.

Yamashita is one of five finalists in the Fiction category for I Hotel, a 600-page novel published by the independent Coffee House Press.

Her publisher Allan Kornblum has described I Hotel as Yamashita's magnum opus, exploring the exhilarating days of the 1960's and early 1970's in northern California through the eyes of the Asian-American community. 

Yamashita is the author of four previous books, including Through the Arc of the Rain Forest (1990), which received the American Book Award, and Brazil-Maru, named by the Village Voice as one of the 25 best books of 1992.

Her third novel, Tropic of Orange (1997), was a finalist for the Paterson Fiction Prize, and she followed that with Circle K Cycles (2001), a book based on her research on the Brazilian community in Japan.

Yamashita received the Chancellor’s Award for Diversity at UC Santa Cruz in 2009.

One of the most significant honors in American literary life, the National Book Awards are presented annually by the National Book Foundation.

Previous winners in the fiction category have included Ralph Ellison for Invisible Man (1953), Norman Mailer for The Armies of the Night (1969), William Styron for Sophie’s Choice (1980), and Philip Roth for Sabbath’s Theater (1995).

The winners in each category--Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature--will be announced at the 61st National Book Awards Benefit Dinner and Ceremony in New York City on November 17.

At the awards ceremony, Tom Wolfe will also receive the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, to be presented by journalist and founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, Tina Brown.

The National Book Award finalists were selected by four panels of judges who were asked to select what they considered to be the best books of the year.

Eligible books must be written by an American citizen and published in the United States between December 1, 2009, and November 30, 2010.