In the States: National Book Foundation Names Its ‘5 Under 35’ Winners

In News by Porter Anderson

The winners of the United States’ ‘5 Under 35’ honors are 34 or  younger and are chosen by selectors for the National Book Foundation.

Winners of the National Book Foundation’s 2023 ‘5 Under 35’ honors in the United States are, from left, Mateo Askaripour (image: Andrew Askaripour); Chelsea Hicks (image: David Cyprian Hicks); Morgan Talty (image: Tin House); Jenny Xie (image: Cheryl Chan); and Ada Zhang (image: Chloe Chang). All images provided by National Book Foundation

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

Honoring the Winners: May 25
As Publishing Perspectives readers will remember, the United States’  National Book Foundation operates not only the National Book Awards program but also a “5 Under 35” competition—the name meaning that it recognizes five fiction writers 34 or younger, “whose debut work promises to leave a lasting impression on the literary landscape.”

Each member of this quintet of winners is selected by at least one National Book Award winner, finalist, or longlisted author who was previously recognized, her- or himself, by the “5 Under 35” program, and the honored writers may be from any part of the world.

This year, the five authors are to be applauded at an event in New York City on May 25. In a first, the event will be open to the public, and is presented in partnership with the Brooklyn Museum, on the site of which can be found tickets for sale.

David Steinberger

In a prepared statement, the foundation chair David Steinberger says, “Since it was established in 2006, the ‘5 Under 35’ program has identified writers whose debut titles suggest careers of great promise.

“These exceptional young writers have already made their mark on the literary world with their first published works of fiction, and it’s our honor to welcome them into the National Book Foundation family and celebrate their work for years to come.”

You’ll note that the selector is listed with each of the five awards below.

Ruth Dickey

Ruth Dickey, executive director of the foundation, says, “We’re grateful to this year’s selectors for reading widely and eagerly to recognize this cohort of five exceptional authors and their memorable debuts.

“It’s a privilege to spotlight these exciting new voices in contemporary fiction, and we look forward to celebrating their talent.”

Publishing Perspectives readers know that there are two major young-author awards of this caliber in addition to the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35.”

Both the Welsh and English honors carry substantial cash awards. The National Book Foundation’s honors do not carry a purse.

The 2023 ‘5 Under 35’ Award Winners

Mateo Askaripour, Black Buck (HarperCollins / Mariner Books)

  • Selected by Robert Jones, Jr., a 2021 National Book Award finalist

Chelsea T. Hicks, A Calm & Normal Heart (Unnamed Press)

  • Selected by Louise Erdrich, a 2012 National Book Award Winner, 1999 and 2001 finalist

Morgan Talty, Night of the Living Rez (Tin House Books)

  • Selected by Karen Russell, a 2009 5 Under 35 honoree

Jenny Xie, Holding Pattern (Penguin Random House / Riverhead Books)

  • Selected by Kirstin Valdez Quade, a 2014 5 Under 35 honoree

Ada Zhang, The Sorrows of Others (A Public Space)

  • Selected by Jamil Jan Kochai, a 2022 National Book Award finalist

Previous winners of the “5 Under 35” accolade include Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Lesley Nneka Arimah, K-Ming Chang, Anelise Chen, Naima Coster, Danielle Evans, Yaa Gyasi, Isabella Hammad, Lydia Kiesling, Raven Leilani, Johannes Lichtman, Valeria Luiselli, Fatima Farheen Mirza, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Karen Russell, Claire Vaye Watkins, Bryan Washington, Ashley Wurzbacher, Tiphanie Yanique, and C Pam Zhang.

Also among the past winners are National Book Award longlisted authors Molly Antopol and Brit Bennett; National Book Award finalists Akwaeke Emezi, Angela Flournoy, and Téa Obreht; 2014 National Book Award winner Phil Klay; and 2020 National Book Award winner Charles Yu.

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

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 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.