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The National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 List!

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Margaret Kingsbury

Contributing Editor

Margaret Kingsbury grew up in a house so crammed with books she couldn’t open a closet door without a book stack tumbling, and she’s brought that same decorative energy to her adult life. Margaret has an MA in English with a concentration in writing and has worked as a bookseller and adjunct English professor. She’s currently a freelance writer and editor, and in addition to Book Riot, her pieces have appeared in School Library Journal, BuzzFeed News, The Lily, Parents,, and more. She particularly loves children’s books, fantasy, science fiction, horror, graphic novels, and any books with disabled characters. You can read more about her bookish and parenting shenanigans in Book Riot’s twice-weekly The Kids Are All Right newsletter. You can also follow her kidlit bookstagram account @BabyLibrarians, or on Twitter @AReaderlyMom.

The National Book Foundation has chosen 5 2017 debut authors for their 5 Under 35 award, and they’re all women!

Since 2006, The National Book Foundation has honored 5 young debut writers with this award, selected by previous National Book Award Finalists. This year’s judges included Sherman Alexie and Lydia Millet, among other renowned writers.

And what a list of finalists! All women and 3 women of color. This isn’t the first time The National Book Foundation has chosen an all woman line-up; they did so in 2013 as well. In fact, in all 11 years of this award, a diverse list of excellent writers has been chosen, which makes this a fantastic list to follow.

The winners are awarded a $1,000 honorarium, and while a small sum, I hope their book sales increase as a result of this honor. And more book deals follow!

Without further ado, here are 2017’s 5 under 35:

Lesley Nneka Arimah, author of What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky: Stories (Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House)

Selector: Chris Bachelder, 2016 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction

Halle Butler, author of Jillian (Curbside Splendor)
Selector: Lydia Millet, 2016 National Book Award Longlist for Fiction

Zinzi Clemmons, author of What We Lose (Viking / Penguin Random House)
Selector: Angela Flournoy, 2015 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction and 5 Under 35 honoree

Leopoldine Core, author of When Watched: Stories (Penguin Books / Penguin Random House) Selector: Karan Mahajan, 2016 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction

Weike Wang, author of Chemistry (Knopf / Penguin Random House)
Selector: Sherman Alexie, 2007 National Book Award Winner for Young People’s Literature

Have you read any of these? What did you think? I’m really drawn to the title What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky; I’ll have to read that one first.