National Book Awards Shortlist


Winnowed down from longlists of ten titles in each category, The National Book Awards shortlists were announced today on NPR’s Morning Edition.

After her loss last night at the Booker Awards, Hanya Yanagihara sails through to the next round of the NBAs. Lauren Groff, whose book Fates and Furies is the current NPR Morning Edition Book Club pick, also makes the shortlist.

In what many may see as a surprise based on his earlier reception, Bill Clegg did not make the cut to the shortlist with Did You Ever Have a Family.

NPR book experts, providing color commentary on the announcements, highlighted Angela Flournoy’s The Turner House, saying it is a “lovely, lovely book” that picks up on many of the themes in the entire fiction list as it is a domestic drama dealing with financial insecurity, children and parents, and grieving.

In nonfiction there were few surprises as the big names and buzzy books made the second round. NPR commentators remarked that Ta-Nehisi Coates’s best seller, Between the World and Me is a book notable for its “tone of implacable, fatalistic dread.” They also called attention to the two memoirs, written with grace and skill by non-memoirists, photographer Sally Mann and poet Tracy K. Smith.

Poetry also saw many of the big names make the shortlist although one of the few household-name poets of recent years, Jane Hirshfield, did not. NPR’s book experts especially liked Ada Limón’s Bright Dead Things, calling it “a beautiful collection” and saying the lyrical and emotional poems lure one to read them aloud.

The Young People’s Literature list is called the “antidote to Frozen” by the NPR experts. They highlighted Nimona in particular, praising it as a “beautiful, goofy, charming graphic novel” that explores how we talk about girls and women and offers a grand mix of wistfulness and sadness that marks the best of YA literature.

The full shortlists are below. Winners will be announced on Nov. 18th.


Information on the longlist titles here.

Karen E. Bender, Refund: Stories (Counterpoint Press, dist. by Perseus/PGW)

Angela Flournoy, The Turner House (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies (Penguin/Riverhead)

Adam Johnson, Fortune Smiles: Stories (Random House)

Hanya Yanagihara,  A Little Life (RH/Doubleday)


Information on the longlist titles here.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (RH/Spiegel & Grau)

Sally Mann, Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs (Hachette/Little, Brown)

Sy Montgomery, The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness (S&S/Atria; S&S Audio)

Carla Power, If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran (Macmillan/Holt)

Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light: A Memoir (RH/ Knopf; Recorded Books)

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