Sponsored by The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
The National Book Awards, among the most prestigious literary prizes, are going global.
Starting this year, the National Book Foundation will recognize works in translation, opening up a distinctly American literary award to writers working in other languages. The new category marks a radical departure for awards, which began in 1950 “to celebrate the best of American literature.”
Since 1950 the National Book Foundation has awarded the National Book Award to authors such as Colson Whitehead, William Faulkner, Beverly Cleary, and Jesmyn Ward. The Foundation also runs several programs for readers and writers, including the BookUp after-school reading program. In March 2016 the Foundation hired Guernica publisher Lisa Lucas as executive director. We talked to Lucas about how she runs the Foundation day to day.
It’s Black History Month! To celebrate, many readers are declaring a #ReadingBlackout—reading only books by Black authors for the month. (The hashtag reportedly originated with BookTuber Denise D. Cooper, who’s reading only Black authors for a full year.)
So we’ve picked out one book by and/or about African Americans to recommend for each day of February. Black authors wrote some of our favorite works in the literary canon, but we wanted to make this list contemporary—all books published within the last five years—and offer up some books for readers of every age. We also included a range of nonfiction, memoir, literary fiction, and genre fiction (with science-fiction, romance, graphic novels, and more) to properly showcase the diversity of African American authors writing today.