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Ta-Da! The Longlists for the 2019 National Book Awards

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Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

It’s that time of year again!!!!

The National Book Foundation announced all longlists for the 2019 National Book Awards this week, and I could not be more excited. The NBAs are the Academy Awards for books. There are five categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature. And this year’s nominees are AMAZING.

Here’s a rundown of the titles:

Young People’s Literature

Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson, The Undefeated
Versify / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Laurie Halse Anderson, Shout

Viking Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House

Akwaeke Emezi, Pet
Make Me a World / Penguin Random House

Cynthia Kadohata, A Place to Belong
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books / Simon & Schuster

Jason Reynolds, Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books / Simon & Schuster

Randy Ribay, Patron Saints of Nothing
Kokila / Penguin Random House

Laura Ruby, Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins Publishers

Martin W. Sandler, 1919: The Year That Changed America
Bloomsbury Children’s Books / Bloomsbury Publishing

Hal Schrieve, Out of Salem
Triangle Square / Seven Stories Press

Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw, Kiss Number 8
First Second Books / Macmillan Publishers

From the New Yorker announcement: “The judges for the category this year are An Na, the author of four novels, including A Step from Heaven, a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award; Elana K. Arnold, whose novel What Girls Are Made Of was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award; Kristen Gilligan, the co-owner of Tattered Cover Book Store, in Denver; Varian Johnson, the author of The Parker Inheritance and a member of the faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts; and Deborah Taylor, a retired librarian and an adjunct professor of young-adult literature at the University of Maryland.”

Translated Literature

Rioter Pierce Alquist, who is an expert on translated literature, also did a great round-up of the titles here.

The ten titles on the longlist, originally written in ten different languages, include seven novels, two memoirs, and a collection of essays.

Naja Marie Aidt, When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back: Carl’s Book
Translated by Denise Newman
Coffee House Press

Eliane Brum, The Collector of Leftover Souls: Field Notes on Brazil’s Everyday Insurrections
Translated by Diane Grosklaus Whitty
Graywolf Press

Nona Fernández, Space Invaders
Translated by Natasha Wimmer
Graywolf Press

Vigdis Hjorth, Will and Testament
Translated by Charlotte Barslund
Verso Fiction / Verso Books

Khaled Khalifa, Death Is Hard Work
Translated by Leri Price
Farrar, Straus & Giroux / Macmillan Publishers

László Krasznahorkai, Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming
Translated by Ottilie Mulzet
New Directions

Scholastique Mukasonga, The Barefoot Woman
Translated by Jordan Stump
Archipelago Books

Yoko Ogawa, The Memory Police
Translated by Stephen Snyder
Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House

Pajtim Statovci, Crossing
Translated by David Hackston
Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House

Olga Tokarczuk, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House

From the New Yorker announcement: “The judges for the category this year are Keith Gessen, a founding editor of n+1, and the author, most recently, of A Terrible Country; Elisabeth Jaquette, a translator and the executive director of the American Literary Translators Association; Katie Kitamura, whose most recent novel, A Separation, has been translated into sixteen languages; Idra Novey, the author of Those Who Knew, who teaches fiction at Princeton University; and Shuchi Saraswat, who has worked at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, GrubStreet, and an independent bookseller.”


Dan Beachy-Quick, Variations on Dawn and Dusk
Omnidawn Publishing

Jericho Brown, The Tradition
Copper Canyon Press

Toi Derricotte, ‘I’: New and Selected Poems
University of Pittsburgh Press

Camonghne Felix, Build Yourself a Boat
Haymarket Books

Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic
Graywolf Press

Ariana Reines, A Sand Book
Tin House Books

Mary Ruefle, Dunce
Wave Books

Carmen Giménez Smith, Be Recorder
Graywolf Press

Arthur Sze, Sight Lines
Copper Canyon Press

Brian Teare, Doomstead Days
Nightboat Books

From the New Yorker announcement: “The judges for the category this year are Jos Charles, the author of feeld, which was longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award for Poetry; John Evans, the owner of DIESEL, a bookstore in Los Angeles; Vievee Francis, who has written three books of poetry, including Forest Primeval; Cathy Park Hong, the poetry editor of The New Republic and the author of Engine Empire; and Mark Wunderlich, the director of the Bennington Writing Seminars graduate program, whose new book, God of Nothingness, is forthcoming.”


Hanif Abdurraqib, Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest
University of Texas Press

Sarah M. Broom, The Yellow House
Grove Press / Grove Atlantic

Tressie McMillan Cottom, Thick: And Other Essays
The New Press

Carolyn Forché, What You Have Heard is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance
Penguin Press / Penguin Random House

Patrick Radden Keefe, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
Doubleday / Penguin Random House

David Treuer, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House

Greg Grandin, The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America
Metropolitan Books / Macmillan Publishers

Iliana Regan, Burn the Place: A Memoir
Agate Midway / Agate Publishing, Inc.

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership
The University of North Carolina Press

Albert Woodfox with Leslie George, Solitary
Grove Press / Grove Atlantic

From the New Yorker announcement: “The judges for the category this year are Erica Armstrong Dunbar, a professor of history at Rutgers University and a finalist for a 2017 National Book Award; Carolyn Kellogg, an award-winning culture writer and former books editor of the Los Angeles Times; Mark Laframboise, who has worked for more than twenty years at the Politics and Prose bookstore, in Washington, D.C.; Kiese Laymon, the author, most recently, of Heavy: An American Memoir, and a professor of English at the University of Mississippi; and Jeff Sharlet, an editor-at-large for Virginia Quarterly Review, a winner of a National Magazine Award, and an associate professor at Dartmouth College.”


Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Fleishman Is in Trouble
Random House / Penguin Random House

Susan Choi, Trust Exercise
Henry Holt & Company / Macmillan Publishers

Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Sabrina & Corina: Stories
One World / Penguin Random House

Marlon James, Black Leopard, Red Wolf
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House

Laila Lalami, The Other Americans
Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House

Kimberly King Parsons, Black Light: Stories
Vintage / Penguin Random House

Helen Phillips, The Need
Simon & Schuster

Julia Phillips, Disappearing Earth
Alfred A. Knopf / Penguin Random House

Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
Penguin Press / Penguin Random House

Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys
Doubleday / Penguin Random House

From the New Yorker announcement: “This year’s judges for the category were Dorothy Allison, the author of Bastard out of Carolina, a National Book Award finalist; Ruth Dickey, the executive director of Seattle Arts & Lectures; Javier Ramirez, a longtime Chicago indie-book seller and the co-owner of Madison Street Books; Danzy Senna, a recipient of the Whiting Award and the author, most recently, of New People, a New York Times Notable Book; and Jeff VanderMeer, the best-selling author of the Southern Reach Trilogy, whose work has been translated into thirty-eight languages.”

Congratulations to all the nominees! I’m so glad I don’t have to pick, because my head would explode. The shortlists will be announced October 8, and the winners will be announced November 20 at the 70th National Book Awards Ceremony.