The National Book Award longlists

Al Woodworth on September 21, 2020
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2020 National Book Award Longlists announced

The book award season is upon us! This week the National Book Foundation unveiled the National Book Award longlist for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People's Literature. There are so many Amazon Book editor favorites in these lists—Brit Bennett's The Vanishing Half, Charles Yu's Interior Chinatown, Megha Majumdar's A Burning, Isabel Wilkerson's Caste, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio's The Undocumented Americans, Yu Miri's Tokyo Ueno Station, Marcella Pixley's Trowbridge Road, to name a few. So, if you're in need of a book recommendation, these fifty books are a great place to start.

The finalists in all five categories will be announced on October 6 and the winners will be named at the 71st annual National Book Award Ceremony on November 18. Congratulations to all of the authors longlisted! 

The 2020 National Book Award Longlist: Fiction

The 2020 Fiction longlist includes three debuts among the ten titles as well as former National Book Award longlisted writers, the National Book Foundation’s "5 Under 35" prize winners, and writers that have earned recognition from numerous prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. Judges Roxane Gay (Chair), Cristina Henríquez, Laird Hunt, Rebecca Makkai, and Keaton Patterson selected these ten books from a total of 388 books submitted by publishers.

Rumaan AlamLeave the World Behind. Ecco / HarperCollins Publishers.

Christopher BehaThe Index of Self-Destructive Acts. Tin House Books.

Brit BennettThe Vanishing Half. Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House.

Randall KenanIf I Had Two Wings. W. W. Norton & Company.

Megha MajumdarA Burning. Alfred A. Knopf / Penguin Random House.

Lydia MilletA Children’s Bible. W. W. Norton & Company.

Deesha PhilyawThe Secret Lives of Church Ladies. West Virginia University Press.

Douglas StuartShuggie Bain. Grove Press / Grove Atlantic.

Vanessa VeselkaThe Great Offshore Grounds. Alfred A. Knopf / Penguin Random House.

Charles YuInterior Chinatown. Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House.

The 2020 National Book Award Longlist: Nonfiction

A mix of debut works and veteran writers, the 2020 Nonfiction longlist addresses current social issues, explorations of history, works of memoir, biographies of icons, science writing, and more. The National Book Foundation received 609 submissions for this category, and the judges are Terry Tempest Williams (Chair), James Goodman, Yunte Huang, Hannah Oliver Depp, and David Treuer.

Michelle Bowdler, Is Rape a Crime?: A Memoir, an Investigation, and a Manifesto. Flatiron Books / Macmillan Publishers.

Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, The Undocumented Americans One World / Penguin Random House.

Jill Lepore, If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future. Liveright / W. W. Norton & Company.

Les Payne and Tamara Payne, The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X. Liveright / W. W. Norton & Company.

Claudio Saunt, Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory. W. W. Norton & Company.

Jenn Shapland, My Autobiography of Carson McCullers. Tin House Books.

Jonathan C. Slaght, Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl. Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers.

Jerald Walker, How to Make a Slave and Other Essays. Mad Creek Books / The Ohio State University Press.

Frank B. Wilderson III, Afropessimism. Liveright / W. W. Norton & Company.

Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Random House / Penguin Random House.

The 2020 National Book Award Longlist: Poetry

The 2020 Poetry longlist includes emerging voices, mid-career writers, and more traditionally established poets. Poets on this year’s list have received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, MacArthur Fellowships and more. All the poets on the 2020 longlist are newcomers to the National Book Awards. The judges for Poetry are Layli Long Soldier (Chair), Rigoberto González, John Hennessy, Diana Khoi Nguyen, and Elizabeth Willis.

Rick Barot, The Galleons. Milkweed Editions.

Mei-mei BerssenbruggeA Treatise on Stars. New Directions.

Lillian-Yvonne BertramTravesty Generator. Noemi Press.

Tommye BlountFantasia for the Man in Blue. Four Way Books.

Victoria ChangObit. Copper Canyon Press.

Don Mee ChoiDMZ Colony. Wave Books.

Anthony CodyBorderland Apocrypha. Omnidawn Publishing.

Eduardo C. CorralGuillotine. Graywolf Press.

Natalie DiazPostcolonial Love Poem. Graywolf Press.

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, The Age of Phillis. Wesleyan University Press.

The 2020 National Book Award Longlist: Translated Literature

The National Book Award for Translated Literature, which was added as a fifth category in 2018, received a total of 130 submissions from publishers this year. The ten longlisted books were originally published in eight different languages: Arabic, German, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Spanish, Swedish, and Tamil. The judges for Translated Literature are Dinaw Mengestu (Chair), Heather Cleary, John Darnielle, Anne Ishii, and Brad Johnson. Many of the 2020 longlisted books have been celebrated and recognized by numerous international prizes, such as the International Man Booker Prize, the Stella Prize, the August Prize, the Akutagawak Prize, the German Book Prize, and the Colombian Biblioteca de Narrativa Prize.

Shokoofeh AzarThe Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree. Translated from the Persian by Anonymous; Europa Editions.

Linda Boström KnausgårdThe Helios Disaster. Translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles;World Editions.

Anja KampmannHigh as the Waters Rise. Translated from the German by Anne Posten; Catapult.

Jonas Hassen KhemiriThe Family Clause. Translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies; Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers.

Fernanda MelchorHurricane Season. Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes; New Directions.

Yu MiriTokyo Ueno Station. Translated from the Japanese by Morgan Giles; Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House.

Perumal MuruganThe Story of a Goat. Translated from the Tamil by N. Kalyan Raman; Black Cat / Grove Atlantic.

Cho Nam-JooKim Jiyoung, Born 1982. Translated from the Korean by Jamie Chang; Liveright / W. W. Norton & Company.

Pilar QuintanaThe Bitch. Translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman; World Editions.

Adania ShibliMinor Detail. Translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette; New Directions.

The 2020 National Book Award Longlist: Young People's Literature

All of the finalists for the 2020 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature are first time nominees. Publishers submitted a total of 311 books for this category. The 2020 judges are Randy Ribay, Neal Shusterman, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, Colleen AF Venable, and Joan Trygg.

Kacen CallenderKing and the Dragonflies. Scholastic Press / Scholastic Inc.

Traci CheeWe Are Not Free. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Evette DionneLifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box. Viking Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House.

Eric GansworthApple (Skin to the Core). Levine Querido.

Candice IlohEvery Body Looking. Dutton Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House.

Victoria Jamieson and Omar MohamedWhen Stars Are Scattered. Dial Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House.

Marcella PixleyTrowbridge Road. Candlewick Press.

John RoccoHow We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity’s Greatest Adventure. Crown Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House.

Gavriel SavitThe Way Back. Knopf Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House.

Aiden ThomasCemetery Boys. Swoon Reads / Macmillan Publishers.


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