National Book Award finalists announced

Chris Schluep on October 09, 2019
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The finalists for the National Book Award were announced this week. The winners will be announced on Wednesday, November 20 at the 70th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner, hosted by LeVar Burton, at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. Two lifetime achievement awards will also be presented at the awards dinner: Edmund White will be recognized with the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, presented by John Waters, and Oren J. Teicher will receive the Foundation’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, presented by Ann Patchett.

Publishers submitted a total of 1,712 books for this year’s National Book Awards: 397 in Fiction, 600 in Nonfiction, 245 in Poetry, 145 in Translated Literature, and 325 in Young People’s Literature. Judges’ decisions are made independently of the National Book Foundation staff and Board of Directors; deliberations are strictly confidential.

The finalists in fiction and poetry are below. Tomorrow we will list the finalists in Nonfiction, Translated Literature, and Young People's Literature. If you can't wait, you can see all of the finalists here.


Here are the finalists in fiction:


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Trust Exercise: A Novel by Susan Choi

Susan Choi’s novel Trust Exercise is about two students at a performing arts high school who fall in love, but leaves the reader questioning what happened to their relationship as well as the relationship between fact and fiction.


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Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

A debut short story collection set in Denver, Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine focuses on Latinas of indigenous descent and explores themes of ancestry, incarceration, illness, gentrification, and domestic violence with compassion and precision.


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Black Leopard, Red Wolf (The Dark Star Trilogy) by Marlon James

The first installment of a trilogy from Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James, Black Leopard, Red Wolf incorporates African mythology in an epic story about a lost boy and a cast of fantastical characters searching for the truth.


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The Other Americans: A Novel by Laila Lalami

The Other Americans by Laila Lalami is set into motion when a Moroccan immigrant is killed under suspicious circumstances, with witnesses and survivors desperate for answers.


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Disappearing Earth: A novel by Julia Phillips

In Julia Phillips’s Disappearing Earth, the search for two sisters who have disappeared from a remote Russian city ignites powerful questions about class, gender, and ethnicity.







Here are the finalists in poetry



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The Tradition by Jericho Brown

The Tradition examines the growing presence of terror and trauma in our lives—and introduces a new poetic form called “the duplex.”

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I: New and Selected Poems (Pitt Poetry Series) by Toi Derricotte

I: New and Selected Poems includes more than 30 new poems by Toi Derricotte and uses an autobiographical perspective to respond to issues of race, gender, class, and other themes.

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Deaf Republic: Poems by Ilya Kaminsky

Deaf Republic imagines a protest where a gunshot literally deafens the populace.

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Be Recorder: Poems by Carmen Giménez Smith

In her sixth collection Be Recorder, Carmen Giménez Smith sounds a call for rebellion against American complacency and compromise.

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Sight Lines by Arthur Sze

With an eye towards the impending climate crisis, Sight Lines, Arthur Sze’s tenth collection, uses a broad spectrum of voices and forms to reflect on the imperiled natural world.






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