Colin Dwyer

From a group of 40, the finalists for the National Book Awards have been whittled to just half that number. The National Book Foundation released its shortlists Thursday for its annual prize in four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature.

Say one thing for certain: The lists don't lack for leading lights.

When President Obama doled out the 2015 National Medals of Arts and National Humanities Medals on Thursday, plenty of the artists and arts patrons he draped with awards had familiar names — including Mel Brooks, Morgan Freeman, Terry Gross and nearly two dozen others.

From the lingering sins of a nation's snarled roots to the complexities of mental illness and even to the colorful quest for a name of one's own, the books that round out this year's Kirkus Prize shortlists won't let you easily forget history — on whatever scale it's defined.

The U.S. has halted an attack in eastern Syria amid fears that the airstrike hit Syrian soldiers in the region on Saturday. The attack, which had been targeting Islamic State militants, hit Syrian soldiers instead, according to the Russian military.

"The coalition airstrike was halted immediately when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military," U.S. Central Command announced in a statement.

And so the opening salvo of the National Book Awards has been launched ... gradually.

Over the past four days, the National Book Foundation has been rolling out the lists of nominees for its prestigious literary prize in waves — beginning the week by revealing the nominees for its young people's literature, nonfiction and poetry prizes. On Thursday, the foundation capped the multiday rollout with the release of its longlist of 10 nominees for the fiction prize.

A blast tore through a wedding ceremony in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep on Saturday, according to local officials. The Gaziantep province governor's office said that at least 50 people were killed, and at least 94 more were injured.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek says the attack appears to have been carried out by a suicide bomber. For our NewsCast unit, NPR's Peter Kenyon reports that, while no one has immediately claimed responsibility, authorities believe it to be the work of one group in particular.

Peter explains:

Join me, if you will, on a brief trip down memory lane — back to Wednesday, when authorities told residents of a small Colorado town that their tap water had been laced with THC. At the time, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office said that multiple tests of a local well had turned up "presumptive positive" for the compound, best known as the mind-altering component in marijuana.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the latest episode of the Invisibilia podcast and program, which is broadcast on participating public radio stations.

Walking among the California redwoods, drifting blank-brained on a break from college, I got to thinking about shoes. I can't say why, exactly. Perhaps it was because they were touching my feet.

Less than 24 hours after a truck sped down more than a mile of a beachside promenade in Nice, France, claiming the lives of at least 84 people and wounding many others, details are beginning to surface about the victims of the attack.

There's no denying the Philistines have taken some guff over the past, well, thousands of years. After all, they're one of the Hebrew Bible's most infamous villains, seed of both Delilah's treachery and Goliath's menace — not to mention some ineptness when it comes to slingshots. They're so reviled their very name has wriggled into our dictionaries, paired with some less than flattering definitions.

All five of those killed Thursday night at the Dallas protest were law enforcement officers — four of whom served with the Dallas Police Department, while a fifth worked for Dallas Area Rapid Transit, or DART. That DART officer has been identified by the department as Brent Thompson.

Aboard a flight home from Armenia, Pope Francis fielded a pointed question from reporters: Did he agree with German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who, in the wake of the Orlando shooting, said gays deserve an apology from the Church?

His answer was frank.

A planned white nationalist rally unraveled into violence in Sacramento, as counter-demonstrators clashed with the gathering just outside the California Capitol. At least 10 victims have been hospitalized with what the Sacramento Fire Department characterized as "critical trauma stab wounds."

Officials say many others suffered minor cuts, scrapes and bruises.

The photograph has been ingrained in American culture since almost the moment it was taken — a steadfast presence in high school textbooks and an enduring symbol of U.S. perseverance. But it appears we've been wrong about Joe Rosenthal's Pulitzer Prize-winning image of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima, Japan, at least in one very important respect.

One of those six men has been misidentified for decades.

It has been nearly a month now since National Poetry Month wrapped up, but don't let the calendar fool you: All Things Considered still has some unfinished business with the month that was.

That's because, just a few weeks ago, NPR's Michel Martin checked in with the Words Unlocked poetry contest. The competition — launched in 2013 by the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings — drew more than 1,000 poem submissions from students in juvenile correctional facilities across the country.

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