A novel based on the real-life atrocity on Maine’s Malaga Island in the early 20th century is a finalist for the National Book Award.

“This Other Eden” by New York author Paul Harding is one of five finalists on the fiction long list announced Tuesday. The novel, Harding’s third, is also a finalist for the Booker Prize. The winners of both prestigious awards will be announced in November.

“This Other Eden” is set on the fictional Apple Island, which is a stand-in for Malaga Island, a 40-plus acre island off the coast of Phippsburg that was settled in the mid-19th century by a mixed-race community of European, African and Native American descent.

In 1912, state officials forcibly removed the entire community of more than 40 residents. Many of them were incarcerated on questionable grounds at the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded in New Gloucester, where most spent the rest of their lives. State officials later dug up 17 bodies in the island cemetery, distributed them into five caskets, and buried them at the School for the Feeble-Minded – now Pineland Farms – where they remain today.

That shameful episode of Maine history wasn’t talked about openly for many years.

Harding, who lives on Long Island in New York, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for his debut novel “Tinkers.”

The National Book Awards aim to recognize the best American writing published each year in five categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature and young people’s literature. Finalists receive a $1,000 prize, a medal and a judge’s citation. Winners receive $10,000 and a bronze sculpture.

The four other finalists for the National Book Award in fiction are “Chain-Gang All-Stars” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, “Temple Folk” by Aaliyah Bilal, “The End of Drum-Time” by Hanna Pylväinen and “Blackouts” by Justin Torres.

The winner will be announced Nov. 15 at a ceremony in New York City.

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