US National Book Awards Program Names Its 25 Finalists for 2022

In News by Porter Anderson

The five winners among the US National Book Foundation’s 25 shortlisted finalists are to be named on November 16 in New York City.

At the 2018 National Book Awards prize ceremony, Cipriani Wall Street, New York City. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

See also:
US National Book Awards 2022 Longlist: Fiction
US National Book Awards 2022 Longlist: Nonfiction
US National Book Awards 2022 Longlist: Poetry
US National Book Awards 2022 Longlist: Translation
US National Book Awards 2022 Longlist: Young People’s Literature
‘Maus’ Author Art Spiegelman Honored by US National Book Foundation
ALA’s Tracie Hall Receives the National Book Award’s Literarian Award

Six of 25 Shortlisted Titles are Debuts
Publishers submitted a total 1,722 books for this year’s United States’ National Book Awards, and the shortlists released today (October 4) feature five works each.

The National Book Foundation has announced that its invitation-only prize ceremony will take place on November 16, with the 73rd edition of the program returning to Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, while a broadcast is planned for those not present in person.

Two lifetime achievement awards will be presented along with the prizes for the five category winners. Those lifetime honors go to Maus author Art Spiegelman (Medal for Distinguished Contribution)—with Neil Gaiman presenting the award—and to Tracie D. Hall (the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community).

Six of the 25 shortlisted titles this year are debuts.

Five writers and one translator previously have been honored by the National Book Awards:

  • Gayl Jones, a 1998 fiction finalist
  • Scholastique Mukasonga, a 2019 finalist in translated  literature
  • Sharon Olds, shortlisted in 2002 in poetry
  • David Quammen, a 2018 nonfiction longlistee
  • Yoko Tawada and Margaret Mitsutani, the 2018 translated literature winners

All five of the shortlisted writers in young people’s literature are first-time National Book Award honorees. 

National Book Award 2022 Finalists: Fiction
Writer Title Publisher / Imprint
Tess Gunty The Rabbit Hutch Penguin Random House / Alfred A. Knopf
Gayl Jones The Birdcatcher Beacon Press
Jamil Jan Kochai The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories Penguin Random House / Viking
Sarah Thankam Mathews All This Could Be Different Penguin Random House / Viking
Alejandro Varela The Town of Babylon Astra Publishing House / Astra House

Publishers submitted a total of 463 books for the 2022 National Book Award for fiction. Our report on the longlist is here.

The jurors in fiction are Ben Fountain (chair), Brandon Hobson, Pam Houston, Dana Johnson, and Michelle Malonzo

National Book Award 2022 Finalists: Nonfiction
Writer Title Publisher / Imprint
Meghan O’Rourke The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness Penguin Random House / Riverhead Books
Imani Perry South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation HarperCollins / Ecco
David Quammen Breathless: The Scientific Race To Defeat a Deadly Virus Simon & Schuster
Ingrid Rojas Contreras The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir Penguin Random House / Doubleday
Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa  His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice Penguin Random House / Viking Books

Publishers submitted a total of 607 books for the 2022 National Book Award for nonfiction. Our report on the longlist is here.

The jurors in nonfiction are Carol Anderson, Melissa Febos, Thor Hanson, Janet Webster Jones, and Oscar Villalon (chair).

National Book Award 2022 Finalists: Poetry
Writer Title Publisher / Imprint
Allison Adelle Hedge Coke Look at This Blue Coffee House Press
John Keene Punks: New & Selected Poems Song Cave
Sharon Olds Balladz Penguin Random House / Alfred A. Knopf
Roger Reeves Best Barbarian WW Norton & Company
Jenny Xie The Rupture Tense Graywolf Press

Publishers submitted a total of 260 books for the 2022 National Book Award for poetry. Our report on the poetry longlist is here.

The jurors for poetry are  Kwame Dawes (chair), Juan Felipe Herrera, Keetje Kuipers, January Gill O’Neil, and Mai Der Vang.

National Book Award 2022 Finalists: Translated Literature
Author Title Original Language Translator Publisher / Imprint
Jon Fosse A New Name: Septology VI-VII Norwegian Damion Searls Transit Books
Scholastique Mukasonga Kibogo French Mark Polizzotti Archipelago Books
Mónica Ojeda Jawbone Spanish Sarah Booker Coffee House Press
Samanta Schweblin Seven Empty Houses Spanish Megan McDowell Penguin Random House / Riverhead Books
Yoko Tawada Scattered All Over the Earth Japanese Margaret Mitsutani New Directions

Publishers submitted a total of 146 books for the 2022 National Book Award for translated literature. Our report on the translated literature longlist is here.

The jurors for translated literature are Nick Buzanski, Veronica Esposito, Ann Goldstein (chair), Rohan Kamicheril, and  Russell Scott Valentino.

National Book Award 2022 Finalists: Young People’s Literature
Author Title Publisher / Imprint
Kelly Barnhill The Ogress and the Orphans Workman Publishing / Algonquin Young Readers
Sonora Reyes The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School HarperCollins / Balzer + Bray
Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes, Dawud Anyabwile Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice WW Norton
Sabaa Tahir All My Rage Penguin Random House / Razorbill
Lisa Yee Maizy Chen’s Last Chance Penguin Random House / Random House for Young Readers

Publishers submitted a total of 296 books for the 2022 young people’s literature category. Our report on the young people’s literature longlist is here.

The jurors for this one are Becky Albertalli, Joseph Bruchac, Meghan Dietsche Goel, Jewell Parker Rhodes (chair), and Lilliam Rivera.

As always, the juries’ decisions are made independently of the National Book Foundation staff and board of directors. Deliberations are strictly confidential.

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 176th report on awards-related news published in the 183 days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.

National Book Awards trophies. Image: NBA


More from Publishing Perspectives on the National Book Awards in the United States is here and more on the huge field of international book awards and prizes is here. More from us on the United States’ market is here

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing 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 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.