It began with more than 1,500 books.
With all the works submitted by publishers, the judges for this year’s National Book Awards have had their hands (and bookshelves) full the past few months. But that daunting number of contenders winnowed further Wednesday, as the National Book Foundation announced the finalists for its literary prize — just five works each in four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature.
You can find those shortlists below, paired with links to NPR’s previous coverage for readers to get to know those nominees better.
For now, at least, there are two winners whose names we won’t have to wait on: Annie Proulx, who has already won a National Book Award for The Shipping News, will be honored this year with the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the NBF’s version of a lifetime achievement award. And Dick Robinson, president and CEO of Scholastic, will be receiving the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.
The rest of this year’s winners will be announced on Nov. 15 in New York City.
Erica Armstrong Dunbar: Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge
Frances FitzGerald: The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America
Masha Gessen: The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia
David Grann: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Nancy MacLean: Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America
Frank Bidart: Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016
Leslie Harrison: The Book of Endings
Layli Long Soldier: WHEREAS
Shane McCrae: In the Language of My Captor
Danez Smith: Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems
Elana K. Arnold: What Girls Are Made Of
Robin Benway: Far from the Tree
Erika L. Sánchez: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Rita Williams-Garcia: Clayton Byrd Goes Underground
Ibi Zoboi: American Street