US National Book Awards Finalists Drawn from 1,712 Submissions

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With its Translated Literature award for authors and translators in its second year, the National Book Foundation announces its shortlisted 25 authors and works for 2019.

At the 2018 National Book Awards ceremony and benefit dinner in New York City. Image: Porter Anderson

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Translated Literature This Year Draws 145 Entries
The National Book Foundation says that publishers submitted a total 1,712 books for consideration in the 2019 National Book Awards program. The various juries handling the five categories on Tuesday (October 8) announced their finalists, five in each of five categories.

The breakdown of submissions in those categories, according to media messaging is:

  • Fiction, 397 titles submitted
  • Nonfiction, 600 titles submitted
  • Poetry, 245 titles submitted
  • Translated Literature, 145 titles submitted
  • Young People’s Literature, 325 titles submitted

Four of the 25 shortlisted writers are being recognized for debuts. And four others have been previously recognized by the National Book Awards program: Akwaeke Emezi was a “5 Under 35” program honoree in 2018; Toi Derricotte was a Literarian Award recipient in 2016 for her work with Cave Canem; Jason Reynolds was a 2016 Young People’s Literature finalist and a 2017 Young People’s Literature longlisted writer; and Laura Ruby was a 2015 Young People’s Literature finalist.

Winners are to be named November 20 at the 70th National Book Awards ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, the event to be hosted by LeVar Burton.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, two lifetime achievement awards will also be presented at the awards program: 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.

2019 National Book Award Finalists: Fiction
  • Susan Choi, Trust Exercise, Henry Holt and Company / Macmillan Publisher
  • Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Sabrina & Corina: Stories, One World / Penguin Random House
  • Marlon James, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House
  • Laila Lalami, The Other Americans, Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House
  • Julia Phillips, Disappearing Earth, Alfred A. Knopf / Penguin Random House
2019 National Book Award Finalists: Nonfiction
  • Sarah M. Broom, The Yellow House, Grove Press / Grove Atlantic
  • Tressie McMillan Cottom, Thick: And Other Essays, the New Press
  • Carolyn Forché, What You Have Heard is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance, Penguin Press / Penguin Random House
  • David Treuer, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present, Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House
  • Albert Woodfox with Leslie George, Solitary, Grove Press / Grove Atlantic
2019 National Book Award Finalists: Translated Literature
  • Khaled Khalifa, Death is Hard Work, translated from Arabic by Leri Price (Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers)
  • László Krasznahorkai, Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming, translated from Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet (New Directions)
  • Scholastique Mukasonga, The Barefoot Woman, translated from French by Jordan Stump (Archipelago Books)
  • Yoko Ogawa, The Memory Police, translated Japanese by Stephen Snyder (Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House)
  • Pajtim Statovci, Crossing, translated from Finnish by David Hackston (Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House)
2019 National Book Award Finalists: Poetry
  • Jericho Brown, The Tradition, Copper Canyon Press
  • Toi Derricotte,“I”: New and Selected Poems, University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic, Graywolf Press
  • Carmen Giménez Smith, Be Recorder, Graywolf Press
  • Arthur Sze, Sight Lines, Copper Canyon Press
2019 National Book Award Finalists: Young People’s Literature
  • Akwaeke Emezi, Pet, Make Me a World / Penguin Random House
  • Jason Reynolds, Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books / Simon & Schuster
  • Randy Ribay, Patron Saints of Nothing, Kokila / Penguin Random House
  • Laura Ruby, Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All, Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins Publishers
  • Martin W. Sandler, 1919 The Year That Changed America, Bloomsbury Children’s Books / Bloomsbury Publishing

Each winners of the National Book Awards receives US$10,000 and a bronze medal and statue.

Winners and finalists in the Translated Literature category will split the prize evenly between author and translator.

Finalists each receive $1,000 and a bronze medal.

The Awards Ceremony is the culminating event of National Book Awards Week. The program’s events start on November 18 with “5 Under 35,” the foundation’s celebration of emerging fiction writers selected by National Book Award winners, Finalists, longlisted authors, and former “5 Under 35” honorees.

On November 19, the National Book Awards’ teen press conference will take place at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

On the evening of November 19, all finalists will read from their books at the National Book Awards Finalists Reading at The New School. The Finalists Reading is open to the public; tickets are $10 and are available at The New School site here.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the National Book Awards is here, and on awards programs in general is here

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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