The National Book Foundation named two Yalies as finalists for the 2003 National Book Award Wednesday.

T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies Carlos Eire and Anne Applebaum ’86 were both honored for their nonfiction books. There are a total of five books short-listed for the nonfiction award, and one author will be awarded a $10,000 prize next month.

The National Book Foundation recognized Eire for his book “Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy.” In his memoir, Eire chronicles his childhood in the wake of Fidel Castro’s revolution. In 1962, when he was 11 years old, Eire was one of 14,000 children airlifted from Cuba to the U.S.

Benjamin Siegel ’07, a student in Eire’s course on the history of Catholicism, commended Eire for his humble nature and academic prowess.

“While Professor Eire’s lectures are at once informative and charming, it is his humble nature that sets him in a class apart from his peers,” Siegel said. “Though he’s a distinguished scholar and historian, and his book is garnering all sorts of positive publicity, two months into the course he still hasn’t said a word about it.”

Siegel said Eire’s memoir is likely to reflect his enthusiasm.

“If his book is filled with anywhere near the passion and depth that he brings twice-weekly to class, it’s no doubt worth the acclaim that it has received,” Siegel said.

An authority on religious reformations, faith and spiritualism in modern Europe, Eire also wrote “From Madrid to Purgatory: The Art and Craft of Dying in Sixteenth-Century Spain” and “War Against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to Calvin.”

Applebaum was recognized for her book “Gulag: A History.” Drawing from both survivor testimonies and access to long-sealed Soviet archives, her book is the first comprehensive scholarly examination of day-to-day life in the labor camps and the Gulag’s place in 20th-century history, a National Book Foundation press release said.

Applebaum said her initial impulse for writing the book stemmed from her own — and others’ — lack of knowledge on the subject.

“I traveled a great deal in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union in the late ’80s and early ’90s and I met a lot of people in the labor camps who had been former Stalin victims,” Applebaum said. “I hope the book will bring more attention to a subject which I think has been undervalued.”

After graduating from Yale, Applebaum studied as a Marshall Scholar at the London School of Economics and St. Antony’s College, Oxford. She began her work as a journalist in 1988 as the Warsaw correspondent for The Economist. Applebaum currently serves on the editorial board of the Washington Post. She is also the author of “Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe,” an account of a journey through Lithuania, Ukraine and Belarus as the countries were making their final moves toward independence.

Applebaum said she will speak at Yale on Nov. 6.

There are a total of 20 finalists for the 2003 National Book Award. One winner in each category — Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature — will win $10,000. Sixteen short-list prizes of $1,000 each will be awarded to the finalists.

“We were thrilled to receive a record number of entries for the National Book Awards competition this year: 1,030 titles from 198 publishers and imprints,” National Book Foundation Executive Director Neil Baldwin said in a press release. “From this huge group of titles, these twenty special selections underscore our belief that National Book Award Finalists have been and always will be as varied as a mirror held up to American culture.”

The finalists will be honored and the winners will be announced at the 54th Annual National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on Nov. 19 in New York City.