The National Book Awards Finalists Hath Arrived

Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Publishers

Book-prize season continues to chug along despite [gestures at general state of the world]. Today, the finalists for the National Book Awards were announced, winnowing the longlists down by half. In the fiction category, a panel of judges chaired by Roxane Gay read 388 submissions to get to today’s five finalists. They include Rumaan Alam for Leave the World Behind, the story of a white family renting a swanky house in the Hamptons when a knock at the door — the home’s Black owners — changes everything. Also on the list is Douglas Stuart for Shuggie Bain, which was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize this year. Rounding out the list of finalists are Lydia Millet, Deesha Philyaw, and Charles Yu. Here’s the list of finalists for each National Book Award category. Winners will be announced on November 18 in a virtual ceremony, the final for departing National Book Foundation executive director Lisa Lucas.

Fiction Finalists

  • Rumaan Alam, Leave the World Behind
  • Lydia Millet, A Children’s Bible
  • Deesha Philyaw, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
  • Douglas StuartShuggie Bain
  • Charles YuInterior Chinatown 

Nonfiction Finalists

  • Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, The Undocumented Americans
  • Les Payne and Tamara Payne, The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X
  • Claudio Saunt, Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory
  • Jenn ShaplandMy Autobiography of Carson McCullers
  • Jerald Walker, How to Make a Slave and Other Essays

Poetry Finalists

  • Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, A Treatise on Stars
  • Tommye BlountFantasia for the Man in Blue
  • Don Mee ChoiDMZ Colony
  • Anthony CodyBorderland Apocrypha
  • Natalie DiazPostcolonial Love Poem

Translated Literature Finalists

  • Anja Kampmann, High as the Waters Rise. Translated from the German by Anne Posten
  • Jonas Hassen Khemiri, The Family Clause. Translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies
  • Yu Miri, Tokyo Ueno Station. Translated from the Japanese by Morgan Giles
  • Pilar Quintana, The Bitch. Translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman
  • Adania Shibli, Minor Detail. Translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette

Young People’s Literature Finalists

  • Kacen Callender, King and the Dragonflies
  • Traci Chee, We Are Not Free
  • Candice Iloh, Every Body Looking
  • Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, When Stars Are Scattered
  • Gavriel Savit, The Way Back
The National Book Awards Finalists Hath Arrived