A book of short stories based on Thailand's tourism industry is the only work of fiction to make the shortlist for the Guardian's First Book award.
Zadie Smith is a previous winner of the prize
Rattawut Lapcharoensap's Sightseeing is one of five books by first-time authors battling it out for the £10,000 prize.
The award considers works of fiction, history, politics, science poetry, biography, current affairs and memoir.
A panel of literary experts will decide the prize winner, to be announced at a ceremony in early December.
Previous winners of the award include White Teeth by Zadie Smith (2000), which went on to become a bestseller.
The Guardian First Book Award is open to books from genres including fiction, history, politics, science poetry, biography, current affairs and memoir.
Writer Reza Aslan is nominated for his exploration of the origins of Islam in No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and the Future of Islam.
Richard Benson's book, The Farm, is a memoir of the destruction of the British farming industry.
Alexander Masters' touching story of a homeless man, Stuart: A Life Backwards and Suketu Mehta's history of Bombay, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found round off the shortlist.
Claire Armitstead, literary editor of the Guardian, said: "After the boom in first novels that we have seen since the turn of the millennium, this seems to be non-fiction's year, with a hugely impressive line-up of contenders for the prize.
"The short story also seems to be racing back into fashion, and we are delighted that this is reflected in the shortlist."
This year's judging panel includes novelist Julie Myerson, poet Owen Sheers, biographer Michael Holroyd, cultural commentator Naseem Khan, broadcaster Clive Anderson and Guardian Deputy Editor Georgina Henry. The panel is chaired by Ms Armitstead.
Stuart Broom, of Waterstone's, will represent the views of store-based reading groups in London, Glasgow, Nottingham, Bath, Bournemouth and Manchester, who helped choose the shortlist.