From a group of 40, the finalists for the National Book Awards have been whittled to just half that number. The National Book Foundation released its shortlists Thursday for its annual prize in four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature.
Among the novelists, scholars, poets and illustrators listed below, some — such as Jacqueline Woodson, Viet Thanh Nguyen and Rita Dove — are no strangers to literary laurels. Dove, a former U.S. poet laureate, brings the heft of three decades of poems — while Nguyen has racked up a raft of honors over a career much more brief (so far). Meanwhile, Woodson is now one step from returning to the stage she took in 2014, when she won the National Book Award for young people’s literature, for Brown Girl Dreaming.
Still, the lists feature more than just past awards-season favorites. Solmaz Sharif, a lecturer at Stanford, has earned the nod for her first poetry collection, while it’s Nicola Yoon’s second novel, The Sun Is Also a Star, that made this year’s shortlist for young people’s literature.
Beyond a medal, a statue and adoring gazes, the winning author in each category also receives $10,000. Winners for all four categories will be announced on Nov. 16 in New York City.
In the meantime, one winner has been decided already: Robert A. Caro, who has earned the medal for distinguished contribution to American letters — the National Book Awards’ version of a lifetime achievement honor. The Pulitzer- (and National Book Award- and National Book Critics Circle Award-) winning biographer will receive his award on the same night.
Arlie Russell Hochschild, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War
Andrés Reséndez, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America
Heather Ann Thompson, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy
Daniel Borzutzky, The Performance of Becoming Human
Rita Dove, Collected Poems 1974 – 2004
Peter Gizzi, Archeophonics
Jay Hopler, The Abridged History of Rainfall
Solmaz Sharif, Look
Kate DiCamillo, Raymie Nightingale
John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell, March: Book Three
Grace Lin, When the Sea Turned to Silver
Jason Reynolds, Ghost
Nicola Yoon, The Sun Is Also a Star