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Charles Yu, Kacen Callender Among National Book Award Finalists

Witthaya Prasongsin
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The National Book Foundation has announced the 25 finalists for this year's National Book Awards, in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, literature in translation, and young people's literature.

This year's authors are a diverse group that includes several debuts — from Deesha Philyaw and Douglas Stuart in the fiction category, and Tommye Blount and Anthony Cody in poetry.

The awards ceremony will stream live on YouTube on November 18th, and will include two lifetime achievement awards: Edwidge Danticat will present the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to author Walter Mosley, and a posthumous award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community goes to publisher Carolyn Reidy.

As always, interested readers can hear this year's finalists read from their work at a special event at the New School on November 10 (which will also be available online.) You can find the full list — with links to our coverage — by scrolling down, or just click one of the categories to the right.


  • Rumaan Alam, Leave the World Behind
  • Lydia Millet, A Children's Bible
  • Deesha Philyaw, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
  • Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain
  • Charles Yu, Interior Chinatown

  • Nonfiction

  • 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 Shapland, My Autobiography of Carson McCullers
  • Jerald Walker,How to Make a Slave and Other Essays

  • Poetry

  • Mei-mei Berssenbrugge,A Treatise on Stars
  • Tommye Blount, Fantasia for the Man in Blue
  • Don Mee Choi, DMZ Colony
  • Anthony Cody,Borderland Apocrypha
  • Natalie Diaz,Postcolonial Love Poem

  • Translated literature

  • 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

  • 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
  • Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Petra Mayer died on November 13, 2021. She has been remembered by friends and colleagues, including all of us at NPR. The Petra Mayer Memorial Fund for Internships has been created in her honor.

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