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'Florida,' 'Heartland' Among National Book Awards Finalists

CCAC North Library

The selections were winnowed down from 1,637 books.

On Wednesday, the National Book Foundation announced the 25 books that remain in the running for the National Book Awards, now in its 69th year.

The writers come from such places as Pittsburgh, Norway, Iran and Poland, and many of them have delved into some of the most pressing conversations of our time: racism, masculinity, addiction, the destruction of indigenous culture, class divides and corporations.

And for the first time since the 1980s, the judges will also honor a work in translation.

"This year, instead of just celebrating the best American literature, we're celebrating the best literature in America," Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation, told NPR.

"We're from everywhere, and we have to celebrate the world we live in," she said.

Chilean writer Isabel Allende will be recognized at the awards dinner in New York with the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

Doron Weber, best known for his "family memoir," Immortal Bird, will receive the foundation's Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.

On Nov. 13, every finalist will read from the pages of his or her book at The New School in New York City. The winners will be announced the next day.


Jamel Brinkley: A Lucky Man

Lauren Groff: Florida

Brandon Hobson: Where the Dead Sit Talking

Rebecca Makkai: The Great Believers

Sigrid Nunez: The Friend


Colin G. Calloway: The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation

Victoria Johnson: American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic

Sarah Smarsh: Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

Jeffrey C. Stewart: The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke

Adam Winkler: We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights


Rae Armantrout: Wobble

Terrance Hayes: American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin

Diana Khoi Nguyen: Ghost Of

Justin Phillip Reed: Indecency

Jenny Xie: Eye Level

Translated Literature

Négar Djavadi: Disoriental

Translated by Tina Kover

Hanne Ørstavik: Love

Translated by Martin Aitken

Domenico Starnone: Trick

Translated by Jhumpa Lahiri

Yoko Tawada: The Emissary

Translated by Margaret Mitsutani

Olga Tokarczuk: Flights

Translated by Jennifer Croft

Young People's Literature

Elizabeth Acevedo: The Poet X

M. T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin: The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge

Leslie Connor: The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle

Christopher Paul Curtis: The Journey of Little Charlie

Jarrett J. Krosoczka: Hey, Kiddo

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sasha Ingber is a reporter on NPR's breaking news desk, where she covers national and international affairs of the day.
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