Finalists for 2017 National Book Awards Announced

Novelist Jesmyn Ward and New Yorker writer David Grann are among the finalists for this year’s National Book Awards, presented by the National Book Foundation.

The finalists include two previous winners. Ward, whose novel “Sing, Unburied, Sing” is a finalist for the fiction prize, won the award in 2011 for “Salvage the Bones.” Frances FitzGerald, whose book “The Evangelicals” is a finalist for nonfiction, won that prize in 1973 for “Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam.”

Frank Bidart, whose collection “Half-light” is in the running for this year’s poetry prize, is a five-time finalist. Rita Williams-Garcia, whose “Clayton Byrd Goes Underground” is a finalist for the young people’s literature award, was a finalist in 2009 and 2010.

This year’s fiction list — which omits novels by big names such as George Saunders and Joyce Carol Oates — will bring attention to several lesser-known writers. “The Leavers,” for instance, is a debut novel by Lisa Ko about immigration. “Her Body and Other Parties” is a debut story collection by Carmen Maria Machado.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on Nov. 15 in New York. Each finalist receives $1,000. Each winner receives $10,000 and a bronze sculpture.

At the ceremony, Annie Proulx will receive the 2017 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Scholastic’s chairman, president and CEO, Richard Robinson, will receive the 2017 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.

Here is the full list of finalists for the 2017 National Book Awards:


“Dark at the Crossing,” by Elliot Ackerman (Knopf)

“The Leavers,” by Lisa Ko (Algonquin)

“Pachinko,” by Min Jin Lee (Grand Central Publishing)

“Her Body and Other Parties: Stories,” by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf)

“Sing, Unburied, Sing,” by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner)

Fiction judges: Jacqueline Woodson (chair), Alexander Chee, Dave Eggers, Annie Philbrick, Karolina Waclawiak.


“Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge,” by Erica Armstrong Dunbar (Atria)

“The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America,” by Frances FitzGerald (Simon & Schuster)

“The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia,” by Masha Gessen (Riverhead)

“Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” by David Grann (Doubleday)

“Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America,” by Nancy MacLean (Viking)

Judges: Paula J. Giddings (chair), Steve Bercu, Jeff Chang, Ruth Franklin, Valeria Luiselli

Young People’s Literature

“What Girls Are Made Of,” by Elana K. Arnold (Carolrhoda Lab)

“Far from the Tree,” by Robin Benway (HarperTeen)

“I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter,” by Erika L. Sánchez (Knopf for Young Readers)

“Clayton Byrd Goes Underground,” by Rita Williams-Garcia (Amistad)

“American Street,” by Ibi Zoboi (Balzer+Bray)

Judges: Meg Medina (chair), Suzanna Hermans, Brendan Kiely, Kekla Magoon, Alex Sanchez


“Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016,” by Frank Bidart (FSG)

“The Book of Endings,” by Leslie Harrison (University of Akron)

“WHEREAS,” by Layli Long Soldier (Graywolf)

“In the Language of My Captor,” by Shane McCrae (Wesleyan University)

“Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems,” by Danez Smith (Graywolf)

Judges: Monica Youn (chair), Nick Flynn, Jane Mead, Gregory Pardlo, Richard Siken

Publishers submitted 1,529 books for this year’s awards. To be eligible, a book must be published in the United States between Dec. 1, 2016 and Nov. 30, 2017, and must be written by a U.S. citizen.

SOURCE: The Washington Post, Ron Charles