The Finalists of The National Book Awards 2023

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Paul Harding, Christina Sharpe and Ned Blackhawk are among the 25 authors in five categories

The National Book Awards announced the finalists for its 2023 awards on Tuesday.

The winners will be announced on November 15 at a ceremony in New York. The festivities, which will also be broadcast live for free, were originally supposed to be hosted by Drew Barrymore, whose invitation was canceled after she announced that her talk show would resume amid the Hollywood strikes. He then decided to suspend production. No new hosts have been named, but Oprah Winfrey will appear as a guest.

More than 1,900 books have been submitted for consideration for the awards, including 496 fiction titles and 638 non-fiction titles, according to the National Book Foundation. The finalists will receive $1,000 and a bronze medal (authors and translators will share the prize money in the translated literature category).


Blackouts, by Justin Torres

Torres’ second book, which will be published next week, weaves a fictional biography of a twentieth-century sex researcher with the current story of a young man who promises to complete the researcher’s project. It is rare to find a young writer with a voice whose uniqueness, power and resonance are evident from the first page, or even from the first paragraph, Jeff Turrentine wrote in the Washington Post, reviewing Torres’ debut album, We the Animals. , which has been adapted into a film.

All the stars of the chain gangs, by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

This dystopian novel imagines incarcerated people fighting live on television for a chance at freedom. Ron Charles of the Post wrote that when he read Adjei-Brenyah’s first collection of stories in 2018, he wondered: Could Adjei-Brenyah take a story beyond its bizarre simulation premise to support such a singular mix of wit and fury in a longer format? His new novel, Chain-Gang All-Stars, answers this question with a scathing statement.

This Other Eden by Paul Harding

Harding’s third novel, a finalist in this year’s Booker Prize, is a historical fiction about a mixed-race community living off the coast of Maine. Harding’s finely chiseled prose shows us a community that refuses to see itself through the critical eyes of others, a society made up of people who give their neighbors the same freedom to follow their own path that they claim themselves, the Post critic wrote. Wendy Smith.

The People of the Temple by Aaliyah Bilal

In these short stories, Bilal writes about people from a community of the Nation of Islam that began in the 1970s. There is a debate about whether anyone has written about the experience of African-American Muslims, he told Publishers Weekly. To be very frank, there has been no work like the one I wrote. I felt it was a pioneering effort to distill this world so that all readers could connect with the characters on an emotional level.

The end of the Time of the Drum by Hanna Pylväinen

Pylvainen’s second novel, about an isolated village where a Lutheran pastor tries to convert Sami reindeer herders, is inspired by real events in the 1850s. The book begins with regret and ends with rebellion, he told the Provincetown Independent. I am researching the beginnings of a new religion and its growing difficulties. In what ways did the Sami people use this new form of Christianity to unite?

Non-fiction essays

Fire Weather: A true story of a warmer world, by John Vaillant

Vaillant examines a 2016 forest fire in Alberta, Canada, to explore the broader phenomenon of forest fires and climate change. Becca Rothfeld of the Post wrote: A book about an isolated disaster thus becomes a book about the ecosystems of the boreal forest, the chemistry of combustion, the flammability of Modern furniture, the history of environmental exploitation in Alberta, the climatic conditions at the origin of forest fires. more and more dangerous and ubiquitous, and much more.

translated by Sam Taylor, Beyond the door of no return, by David Diop

Diop’s new novel centers on a botanist who reflects on his time working in Senegal and his attempt to find a woman named Maram who had been sold into slavery. Diop, who won the International Booker Prize in 2021 for The Night All Blood is Black, told Electric Literature: Literature moves where history explains.

translated by Lisa Dillman Abyss, by Pilar Quintana

Set in Cali, Colombia, Quintana’s novel is about the secrets of a family, as understood by her young daughter. Her earlier book, The Bitch, which Dillman also translated, was a nominee for the 2020 National Book Award.

On the madness of a woman, by Astrid Roemer, translated by Lucy Scott

Considered a classic of queer literature, Roemer’s novel, about a woman who flees from her abusive husband to find a new life in the capital of Suriname, has been translated into English for the first time since its publication in 1982.

The words that remain, by Stenio Gardel, translated by Bruna Dantas Lobato

In Gardel’s debut, an old man named Raymond recalls his forbidden teenage romance with his best friend, Cicero. Gardel told Asymptote Journal: Raimundo has a lot in common with me: like him, I grew up in a non-urban area until the age of 17 and I am gay, but we are also different. I was able to go to school from a young age, when he was not, and I never suffered the violence that he suffered. So there is a kind of closeness, but also a distance, between Raimundo and me.

Liliana’s Invincible Summer: a sister’s quest for justice, by Cristina Rivera Garza

Garza, who teaches at the University of Houston, followed in her sister’s footsteps in Mexico City to try to find out more about her life and her untimely death. Garza realizes that his quest is daunting, if not almost impossible, but his determination is unflappable, Erika L. Sanchez wrote in her “Reviews” for the Post. She may never find what she is looking for, but writing about the process is a kind of evocation of the sister she lost.

The Rediscovery of America: Indigenous peoples and the destruction of American history, by Ned Blackhawk

Blackhawk’s ambitious book places Indigenous tribes at the center of this country’s history, including the development of its main political commitments. The history of Native Americans is obviously a very broad topic, both in time and space, as well as in cultural and political diversity, Blackhawk told the Post in April. I think we need continued engagement on these issues, and I would like to see subsequent efforts progress, challenge and perhaps remedy the omissions in this book.

Ordinary notes by Christina Sharpe

Sharpe’s book intertwines criticism, memoirs and history in 248 notes that explore blackness. She told CBC radio: I think the word note gives us the kind of sonic, textual and haptic things about memory. Things of meeting, attention and listening. It was a logic through which I could think about black lives.

My father and I could have been friends: a Palestinian memoir, by Raja Shehadeh

Shehadeh’s memoirs oscillate between the past and the present to explore the legacy of his father, a prominent Palestinian lawyer, assassinated in the 1980s and who left behind a carefully organized archive of legal documents, articles and letters.

Literature in translation

Cursed Rabbit, by Bora Chung, translated by Anton Hur

It is Chung’s first collection of short stories translated into English and has also been shortlisted for the International Booker Prize. In an interview with NPR, Chung said that he borrowed the plot development from European fairy tales, then: I add a Korean reality, the things I see or the things I heard from someone else, and combine them with this kind of magical touch. that.


The finalists are: from unincorporated territory[åmot], by Craig Santos Pérez; Tripas, by Brandon Som; suddenly us, by Evie Shockley; From De, by Monica Youn; and How to Communicate, by John Lee Clark.

Children’s literature

The finalists are: A first time for Everything, by Dan Santat; Does Huda F care?, by Huda Fahmy; Grande, by Vashti Harrison; The Last Year: a story of surviving the Ukrainian famine, by Katherine Marsh; and Reunite, by Kenneth M. Cadow.

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