25 finalists for National Book Awards revealed

25 finalists for National Book Awards revealed

The National Book Foundation announced the 25 finalists for its 72nd annual National Book Awards, with five nods each in the fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature and young people’s literature categories.

The winners will be revealed at a virtual ceremony Nov. 17, marking the second year in a row that the event has been held online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The National Book Awards have always been a unique — and sizeable — event, with authors, publishers, and guests traveling from all over the country to attend,” the National Book Foundation said in a previous press release announcing the virtual ceremony in September. “Given the current reality of the ongoing global pandemic, this year’s National Book Awards Ceremony will be a fully virtual event to best protect the health and safety of the book community.”

Titles on the National Book Awards shortlist, published by the New York Times on Tuesday, were drawn from a total of 1,892 submissions and were chosen by panels of literary experts. The Awards will also honor Karen Tei Yamashita and Nancy Pearl with lifetime achievement awards during the live presentation in November.

A full list of nominees can be found below and on the National Book Awards website.


Anthony Doerr, “Cloud Cuckoo Land”
Scribner / Simon & Schuster

Lauren Groff, “Matrix”
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House

Laird Hunt, “Zorrie”
Bloomsbury Publishing

Robert Jones, Jr., “The Prophets”
G. P. Putnam’s Sons / Penguin Random House

Jason Mott, “Hell of a Book”
Dutton / Penguin Random House


Hanif Abdurraqib, “A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance
Random House / Penguin Random House

Lucas Bessire, “Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains
Princeton University Press

Grace M. Cho, “Tastes Like War: A Memoir
Feminist Press at the City University of New York

Nicole Eustace, “Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America”
Liveright / W. W. Norton & Company

Tiya Miles, “All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake”
Random House / Penguin Random House


Desiree C. Bailey, “What Noise Against the Cane”
Yale University Press

Martín Espada, “Floaters”
W. W. Norton & Company

Douglas Kearney, “Sho”
Wave Books

Hoa Nguyen, “A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure”
Wave Books

Jackie Wang, “The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void”
Nightboat Books

Translated Literature:

Elisa Shua Dusapin, “Winter in Sokcho”
Translated from the French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins
Open Letter

Ge Fei, “Peach Blossom Paradise”
Translated from the Chinese by Canaan Morse
New York Review Books

Nona Fernández, “The Twilight Zone”
Translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer
Graywolf Press

Benjamín Labatut, “When We Cease to Understand the World”
Translated from the Spanish by Adrian Nathan West
New York Review Books

Samar Yazbek, “Planet of Clay”
Translated from the Arabic by Leri Price
World Editions

Young People’s Literature:

Shing Yin Khor, “The Legend of Auntie Po”
Kokila / Penguin Random House

Malinda Lo, “Last Night at the Telegraph Club”
Dutton Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House

Kyle Lukoff, “Too Bright to See”
Dial Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House

Kekla Magoon, “Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People”
Candlewick Press

Amber McBride, “Me (Moth)”
Feiwel and Friends / Macmillan Publishers