NEW YORK – Jesmyn Ward, Masha Gessen and Frances Fitzgerald are among this year’s finalists for the National Book Awards.
On Wednesday, the National Book Foundation announced short lists of five each in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, young people’s literature and poetry. Winners will be announced at a Manhattan dinner ceremony on Nov. 15, when Annie Proulx and publisher Dick Robinson of Scholastic will receive honorary prizes.
Fifteen of the 20 nominees are women.
Ward was cited for her haunting, lyrical novel “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” her first work of fiction since winning the National Book Award for “Salvage the Bones.” The other fiction finalists include Elliot Ackerman’s “Dark at the Crossing,” Min Jin Lee’s “Pachinko” and a pair of debut works, Carmen Maria Machado’s “Her Body and Other Parties: Stories” and Lisa Ko’s “The Leavers.”
The nonfiction nominees mostly focused on democracy and racial justice. Gessen was nominated for “The Future is History,” a look into the rise of totalitarianism in her native Russia, and Fitzgerald for “The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America.” The other finalists were Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s “Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge,” David Grann’s “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” and Nancy MacLean’s “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.”
In poetry, the nominees were Frank Bidart’s “Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016,” Leslie Harrison’s “The Book of Endings,” Layli Long Soldier’s “WHEREAS,” Shane McCrae’s “In the Language of My Captor” and Danez Smith’s “Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems.” The finalists in young people’s literature were Elana K. Arnold’s “What Girls Are Made Of,” Robin Benway’s “Far from the Tree,” Erika L. Sanchez’s “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter,” Rita Williams-Garcia’s “Clayton Byrd Goes Underground” and Ibi Zoboi’s “American Street.”
Panels of five judges in each category made their selections from more than 1,500 works submitted overall by publishers. The book foundation released long lists of 10 last month, with Jennifer Egan’s novel “Manhattan Bridge,” Timothy B. Tyson’s nonfiction “The Blood of Emmett Till” and Angie Thomas’ young adult best-seller “The Hate U Give” among those bypassed for the short list. \