Just 25 books can still be called contenders for the 2019 National Book Awards.

The National Book Foundation on Tuesday unveiled the finalists, listing five books each in five categories. And while there are some readily recognizable names among the remaining authors — some with past shortlist appearances and other literary prizes already under their belt — none of them has taken home a National Book Award in these categories before.

That means Edmund White, who has already been announced as winner of this year's lifetime achievement award, will be joined by a host of newcomers when it comes time for the recipients to be announced on Nov. 20 at a ritzy ceremony in New York City.

You'll find the finalists' names below, along with links to NPR's previous coverage where available, by scrolling down or simply jumping to a category.




  • Jericho Brown, The Tradition
  • Toi Derricotte, "I": New and Selected Poems
  • Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic
  • Carmen Giménez Smith, Be Recorder
  • Arthur Sze, Sight Lines

Translated literature

  • Khaled Khalifa, Death Is Hard Work
    Translated from Arabic by Leri Price
  • László Krasznahorkai, Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming
    Translated from Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet
  • Scholastique Mukasonga, The Barefoot Woman
    Translated from French by Jordan Stump
  • Yoko Ogawa, The Memory Police
    Translated from Japanese by Stephen Snyder
  • Pajtim Statovci, Crossing
    Translated from Finnish by David Hackston

Young people's literature

  • Akwaeke Emezi, Pet
  • Jason Reynolds, Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks
  • Randy Ribay, Patron Saints of Nothing
  • Laura Ruby, Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All
  • Martin W. Sandler, 1919: The Year That Changed America
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