Ah, fall. That homey season of football, falling leaves — and of course, feting the best books of the year. The National Book Foundation did its part this week, rolling out the 50 nominees — 10 each across five categories — for its annual slate of literary awards.

Among the notable names on this year's National Book Award longlists are previous winners (Colson Whitehead and Cynthia Kadohata) and plenty of newcomers to the prize, especially among the poets and nonfiction writers.

They were winnowed from more than 1,700 submissions in 2019, and they're set for another winnowing in less than a month. Judges will halve the books still in contention when they announce the shortlists of finalists on Oct. 8, and just one book in each category will claim the prize at a ceremony in New York City on Nov. 20.

So, without further ado ...


  • Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Fleishman Is in Trouble
  • Susan Choi, Trust Exercise
  • Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Sabrina & Corina: Stories
  • Marlon James, Black Leopard, Red Wolf
  • Laila Lalami, The Other Americans
  • Kimberly King Parsons, Black Light: Stories
  • Helen Phillips, The Need
  • Julia Phillips, Disappearing Earth
  • Ocean Vuong, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
  • Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys


  • Hanif Abdurraqib, Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest
  • Sarah M. Broom, The Yellow House
  • Tressie McMillan Cottom, Thick: And Other Essays
  • Carolyn Forché, What You Have Heard is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance
  • Greg Grandin, The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America
  • Patrick Radden Keefe, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
  • Iliana Regan, Burn the Place: A Memoir
  • Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership
  • David Treuer, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present
  • Albert Woodfox with Leslie George, Solitary


  • Dan Beachy-Quick, Variations on Dawn and Dusk
  • Jericho Brown, The Tradition
  • Toi Derricotte, "I": New and Selected Poems
  • Camonghne Felix, Build Yourself a Boat
  • Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic
  • Ariana Reines, A Sand Book
  • Mary Ruefle, Dunce
  • Carmen Giménez Smith, Be Recorder
  • Arthur Sze, Sight Lines
  • Brian Teare, Doomstead Days

Translated Literature

  • Naja Marie Aidt, When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back: Carl's Book
    Translated by Denise Newman
  • Eliane Brum, The Collector of Leftover Souls: Field Notes on Brazil's Everyday Insurrections
    Translated by Diane Grosklaus Whitty
  • Nona Fernández, Space Invaders
    Translated by Natasha Wimmer
  • Vigdis Hjorth, Will and Testament
    Translated by Charlotte Barslund
  • Khaled Khalifa, Death is Hard Work
    Translated by Leri Price
  • László Krasznahorkai, Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming
    Translated by Ottilie Mulzet
  • Scholastique Mukasonga, The Barefoot Woman
    Translated by Jordan Stump
  • Yoko Ogawa, The Memory Police
    Translated by Stephen Snyder
  • Pajtim Statovci, Crossing
    Translated by David Hackston
  • Olga Tokarczuk, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
    Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

Young People's Literature

  • Kwame Alexander; illustrations by Kadir Nelson, The Undefeated
  • Laurie Halse Anderson, SHOUT
  • Akwaeke Emezi, Pet
  • Cynthia Kadohata, A Place to Belong With illustrations by Julia Kuo
  • 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
  • Hal Schrieve, Out of Salem
  • Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw, Kiss Number 8
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