2021 National Book Awards Longlists Announced

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Arvyn Cerézo

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Arvyn Cerézo is an arts and culture writer/reporter with bylines in Book Riot, Publishers Weekly, South China Morning Post, PhilSTAR Life, the Asian Review of Books, and other publications. You can find them on and @ArvynCerezo on Twitter.

The National Book Foundation has announced the longlists for the 2021 National Book Awards on September 15–17. As with last year, the awards are divided into five categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature.

The judging panel for this year’s edition of the National Book Awards includes Alan Michael Parker, Emily Pullen, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, Luis Alberto Urrea, and Charles Yu for Fiction; Eula Biss, Aaron John Curtis, Nell Painter, Kate Tuttle, and Jerald Walker for Nonfiction; Don Mee Choi, Natalie Diaz, Matthea Harvey, A. Van Jordan, and Ilya Kaminsky for Poetry; Jessie Chaffee, Sergio de la Pava, Madhu H. Kaza, Achy Obejas, and Stephen Snyder for Translated Literature; and Pablo Cartaya, Traci Chee, Leslie Connor, Cathryn Mercier, and Ibi Zoboi for Young People’s Literature.

The 2021 longlists are as follows:


This year’s fiction longlist consists of “writers at all stages of their careers.” The longlisted works are:


For nonfiction, the longlist showcases “emerging and established writers, and represents an exceptionally wide range of subjects and genres, from American culture and politics, environmentalism, history, current social issues, to works of memoir, and beyond,” according to the National Book Foundation. Here are their books:


In the poetry category, nine of the 10 poets are first-time nominees except Forrest Gander, whose collection Be With was longlisted in 2018 in the said category. The longlisted titles are:

Translated Literature

The 10 books in this category were originally published in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Korean, Russian, and Spanish. Here are the nominated titles:

Young People’s Literature

This category features “titles across genres, topics, and styles with authors based across the United States,” per the news release. The contenders are:

Twenty-five finalists will be announced on October 5, and winners for each category will be revealed on November 17 in an in-person awards ceremony in New York City. The winners will each receive $10,000 while each finalist will take home $1,000.

The event will also have “virtual elements” that includes a full broadcast.

The National Book Awards, which was first held in 1950, are given to outstanding works of literature by American writers. They have been bestowed to authors such as William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, John Irving, Alice Walker, Jesmyn Ward, and Colson Whitehead.

Browse Book Riot’s archives for more literary awards news, including the Booker Prize.