National Book Awards 2023: The Longlist of 50 Books

The National Book Awards, one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the United States, have announced the longlist of 50 books for the 2023 edition. The books are divided into five categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, literature in translation, and young people’s literature. The finalists in each category will be revealed on October 3, and the winners will be announced at a ceremony on November 15.

Fiction: Dystopia, History, and Identity

The fiction longlist features 10 novels that explore diverse themes such as dystopia, history, identity, and family. Among the nominees are Viet Thanh Nguyen, who was a finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2016 for his book The Sympathizer, and Tania James, who is also longlisted for the Booker Prize for her historical epic Loot. Other notable authors include Justin Torres, Paul Harding, and Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah.

National Book Awards 2023: The Longlist of 50 Books
National Book Awards 2023: The Longlist of 50 Books

The full fiction longlist is:

  • Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
  • Holler, Child by Latoya Watkins
  • Loot by Tania James
  • Blackouts by Justin Torres
  • This Other Eden by Paul Harding
  • Ponyboy by Eliot Duncan
  • King by Ayana Mathis
  • The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante
  • The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
  • A Man of Two Faces: A Memoir, A History, A Memorial by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Nonfiction: Memoir, Science, and Biography

The nonfiction longlist includes 10 books that cover a wide range of topics such as memoir, science, biography, and history. Some of the books are personal accounts of the authors’ lives and experiences, such as We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I: A Palestinian Memoir by Raja Shehadeh and The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos by Sohrab Ahmari. Others are investigations into historical events and figures, such as The Burning Blue: The Untold Story of Christa McAuliffe and NASA’s Challenger Disaster by Kevin Cook and The Black Cabinet: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt by Jill Watts.

The full nonfiction longlist is:

  • We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I: A Palestinian Memoir by Raja Shehadeh
  • The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos by Sohrab Ahmari
  • The Burning Blue: The Untold Story of Christa McAuliffe and NASA’s Challenger Disaster by Kevin Cook
  • The Black Cabinet: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt by Jill Watts
  • Indigenous Nationhood: Empowering Grassroots Citizens by Pamela Palmater
  • American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783-1850 by Alan Taylor
  • The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson
  • Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe
  • Philip Roth: The Biography by Blake Bailey
  • Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

Poetry: Voice, Vision, and Verse

The poetry longlist showcases 10 collections that demonstrate the power and diversity of contemporary poetry. Some of the poets are well-known and acclaimed, such as Louise Glück, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2020, and Tracy K. Smith, who served as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2017 to 2019. Others are emerging voices that offer fresh perspectives and insights, such as Natalie Diaz, who writes about her Mojave and Latina identity, and Victoria Chang, who explores grief and loss.

The full poetry longlist is:

  • In the Lateness of the World by Carolyn Forché
  • Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz
  • Obit by Victoria Chang
  • Winter Recipes from the Collective by Diane Glancy
  • Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück
  • Wade in the Water by Tracy K. Smith
  • Homie by Danez Smith
  • Ledger by Jane Hirshfield
  • Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky
  • American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes

Literature in Translation: Stories from Around the World

The literature in translation longlist features 10 books that have been translated from various languages into English. The books represent a range of genres and styles, from fiction to nonfiction, from realism to fantasy. Some of the books are set in familiar places and times, such as Paris in the 19th century or New York in the 21st century. Others transport the readers to unfamiliar and exotic worlds, such as ancient China or a futuristic city.

The full literature in translation longlist is:

  • The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili, translated from the German by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin
  • The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder
  • The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar, translated from the Persian by Anonymous
  • Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor, translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes
  • The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, translated from the Dutch by Michele Hutchison
  • The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, translated from the Spanish by Iona Macintyre and Fiona Mackintosh
  • The King of Warsaw by Szczepan Twardoch, translated from the Polish by Sean Gasper Bye
  • The Cheffe: A Cook’s Novel by Marie NDiaye, translated from the French by Jordan Stump
  • The City of Lingering Splendor: A Novel of China’s Last Dynasty by Su Tong, translated from the Chinese by Howard Goldblatt
  • New York, My Village by Uwem Akpan, translated from the Nigerian Pidgin English by the author

Young People’s Literature: Imagination, Adventure, and Identity

The young people’s literature longlist features 10 books that cater to readers of different ages and interests. The books include novels, graphic novels, and nonfiction books that deal with themes such as imagination, adventure, identity, and social justice. Some of the books are inspired by real-life events and people, such as We Are Not Free by Traci Chee, which tells the stories of 14 Japanese American teens who were incarcerated during World War II, and How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity’s Greatest Adventure by John Rocco, which chronicles the history of the Apollo program. Others are based on fantasy and folklore, such as Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko, which follows a girl who is bound to a magical crown prince, and When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, which is a graphic novel about two Somali refugee brothers.

The full young people’s literature longlist is:

  • We Are Not Free by Traci Chee
  • How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity’s Greatest Adventure by John Rocco
  • Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
  • When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
  • King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story) by Daniel Nayeri
  • The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead
  • Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk
  • Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

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