National Book Awards Announces Its 2021 Nominees – The New York Times

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This year’s fiction longlist includes Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, a 2020 nominee in the poetry category, as well as Richard Powers, who also made the Booker Prize shortlist this week.
Clockwise from top left: This year’s National Book Awards nominees include Katie Kitamura, Darcie Little Badger, Maria Stepanova, Forrest Gander and Hanif Abdurraqib.


The 10 nominees for this year’s National Book Award in fiction include four authors who have been finalists for the prize before and one debut novelist who made last year’s poetry longlist.
She is Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, whose novel, “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois,” focuses on a young Black woman who tracks her family’s history to a Georgia town where her ancestors were enslaved. Jeffers was longlisted in 2020 for her book of poetry, “The Age of Phillis.”
The four authors previously shortlisted for fiction are Lauren Groff, nominated this year for “Matrix”; Anthony Doerr for “Cloud Cuckoo Land”; Elizabeth McCracken for “The Souvenir Museum”; and Richard Powers for “Bewilderment,” the one National Book Award nominee this year who is also a Booker Prize finalist.
The other authors longlisted for fiction include Laird Hunt for “Zorrie,” Katie Kitamura for “Intimacies” and Jason Mott for “Hell of a Book,” as well as two other debut novelists: Jakob Guanzon, whose book “Abundance” follows a father and son for 24 hours after they are evicted on New Year’s Eve from their trailer, and Robert Jones Jr., whose novel “The Prophets” is a love story between two enslaved men on a plantation in the Deep South.
The 10 nonfiction contenders include one author longlisted in 2019, Hanif Abdurraqib, this time for his book “A Little Devil in America,” as well as two books that examine the legacy of slavery in the United States. Clint Smith visited nine sites connected to slavery for his book “How the Word Is Passed,” while Tiya Miles, in her book “All That She Carried,” explores the history of a family through a cotton sack, embroidered with a list of mementos given from mother to daughter as they were about to be sold apart.
In the poetry category, all but one are first-time nominees, the exception being Forrest Gander for “Twice Alive.” Several of the longlisted collections deal with loss, and two explore what it means to feel like a foreigner in the United States. They are “The Wild Fox of Yemen,” by Threa Almontaser, who shifts between family histories of Yemen and stories of America after Sept. 11, and “Ghost Letters,” in which Baba Badji probes what it means to be Senegalese, Black and in the United States.
On the longlist for young people’s literature, two coming-of-age stories look at issues of gender and sexuality. Malinda Lo’s “Last Night at the Telegraph Club” centers on a 17-year-old in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the Red Scare as she falls in love for the first time. In Kyle Lukoff’s “Too Bright to See,” readers follow a transgender child named Bug during the summer before middle school, which a reviewer for The New York Times described as the “story of what it’s like to realize the gender you were assigned at birth is not the one you actually are.”
The nominees for translated literature include books originally published in Korean, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, French and German. Two of them focus on political violence, including “Peach Blossom Paradise,” written by Ge Fei and translated from Chinese by Canaan Morse, which follows a young woman during the Hundred Days Reform, and “The Twilight Zone,” by Nona Fernández and translated from Spanish by Natasha Wimmer, which reflects on Pinochet’s regime in Chile.
Two others, “When We Cease to Understand the World” by Benjamín Labatut and translated by Adrian Nathan West, and “In Memory of Memory” by Maria Stepanova and translated by Sasha Dugdale, were finalists for this year’s International Booker Prize.
The shortlists for the National Book Awards will be made public on Oct. 5. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on Nov. 17.
Below is a complete list of the 2021 nominees in all five categories.
Anthony Doerr, “Cloud Cuckoo Land
Lauren Groff, “Matrix
Jakob Guanzon, “Abundance
Laird Hunt, “Zorrie
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, “The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois
Robert Jones Jr., “The Prophets
Katie Kitamura, “Intimacies
Elizabeth McCracken, “The Souvenir Museum: Stories
Jason Mott, “Hell of a Book
Richard Powers, “Bewilderment
Hanif Abdurraqib, “A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance
Lucas Bessire, “Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains
Grace M. Cho, “Tastes Like War: A Memoir
Scott Ellsworth, “The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice
Nicole Eustace, “Covered With Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America
Heather McGhee, “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together
Louis Menand, “The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War
Tiya Miles, “All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake
Clint Smith, “How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America
Deborah Willis, “The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship
Threa Almontaser, “The Wild Fox of Yemen
Baba Badji, “Ghost Letters
Desiree C. Bailey, “What Noise Against the Cane
CM Burroughs, “Master Suffering
Andrés Cerpa, “The Vault
Martín Espada, “Floaters
Forrest Gander, “Twice Alive
Douglas Kearney, “Sho
Hoa Nguyen, “A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure
Jackie Wang, “The Sunflower Cast A Spell To Save Us From The Void
Maryse Condé, “Waiting for the Waters to Rise
Translated from the French by Richard Philcox
Elisa Shua Dusapin, “Winter in Sokcho
Translated from the French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins
Ge Fei, “Peach Blossom Paradise
Translated from the Chinese by Canaan Morse
Nona Fernández, “The Twilight Zone
Translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer
Bo-Young Kim, “On the Origin of Species and Other Stories
Translated from the Korean by Joungmin Lee Comfort and Sora Kim-Russell
Benjamín Labatut, “When We Cease to Understand the World
Translated from the Spanish by Adrian Nathan West
Elvira Navarro, “Rabbit Island: Stories
Translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney
Judith Schalansky, “An Inventory of Losses
Translated from the German by Jackie Smith
Maria Stepanova, “In Memory of Memory
Translated from the Russian by Sasha Dugdale
Samar Yazbek, “Planet of Clay
Translated from the Arabic by Leri Price
Safia Elhillo, “Home Is Not a Country
Shing Yin Khor, “The Legend of Auntie Po
Darcie Little Badger, “A Snake Falls to Earth
Malinda Lo, “Last Night at the Telegraph Club
Kyle Lukoff, “Too Bright to See
Kekla Magoon, “Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People
Amber McBride, “Me (Moth)
Anna-Marie McLemore, “The Mirror Season
Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Floyd Cooper, “Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre
Paula Yoo, “From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial That Galvanized the Asian American Movement
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