The finalists for this year’s National Book Awards have been announced, including nominations for Lauren Groff, Robert Jones Jr and Anthony Doerr.
The 25 finalists are spread over five categories: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, translated literature and young people’s literature.
The fiction category contains Groff, who has previously been nominated twice before, for her acclaimed 272-page novel Matrix about female ambition in the 12th century. She will face off against Pulitzer-winner Doerr, nominated in 2014, for his novel Cloud Cuckoo Land, which is set over 700 years; Laird Hunt for his drama Zorrie; Jason Mott’s Hell of a Book and Jones’s debut The Prophets, which tells of black queer love in a slave plantation.
The non-fiction category features Hanif Abdurraqib and his book A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance, a collection of essays about black culture in America. The other nominees are Grace M Cho’s Tastes Like War, which is about food and mental health; Tiya Miles’s All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake; Nicole Eustace’s Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America; and Lucas Bessire’s Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains.
The poetry finalists include Desiree C Bailey’s What Noise Against the Cane; Martín Espada’s Floaters; Douglas Kearney’s Sho; Hoa Nguyen’s A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure; and Jackie Wang’s The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void. This year’s poetry category features four poets of colour.
The nominees for translated literature are Elisa Shua Dusapin for Winter in Sokcho, which was translated from the French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins; Ge Fei for Peach Blossom Paradise, which was translated from the Chinese by Canaan Morse; Nona Fernández for The Twilight Zone, which was translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer Graywolf; Benjamín Labatut for When We Cease to Understand the World, which was translated from the Spanish by Adrian Nathan West; and Samar Yazbek for Planet of Clay, which was translated from the Arabic by Leri Price.
The finalists for young people’s literature are Shing Yin Khor for The Legend of Auntie Po; Malinda Lo for Last Night at the Telegraph Club; Kyle Lukoff for Too Bright to See; Kekla Magoon for Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People; and Amber McBride for Me (Moth) Feiwel and Friends.
The 72nd National Book Awards ceremony will take place on 17 November. As with last year, it will be held exclusively online. Last year’s winner for fiction was Charles Yu, for his novel Interior Chinatown.