National Book Awards 2016 Finalists Announced

The 2016 National Book Awards finalists have been announced and include two Pulitzer Prize winners and two previous National Book Award winners.

According to the National Book Foundation’s official website, the National Book Award, which is an American literary prize, was established in 1950. Every year, 20 judges are selected, including five from each of the four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature. Typically, the judges are published writers who are doing great work in their preferred genre. However, in 2013, the judging panel was opened up to literary critics, librarians, and booksellers.

To be considered for the National Book Award, the book must have been written by an American citizen and published by an American publisher between December 1 of the previous year and November 30 of the current year. After all of the entries have been received, the judges spend the summer reading the titles. In mid-September, 10 books from each category is announced, and then that number is narrowed down to five, which are announced in mid-October.

On the night before the awards ceremony, each of the finalists receive $1,000, a medal, and a citation from the panel at a private Medal Ceremony. The winner from each category is then announced at the National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner, where each winner receives $10,000 and a bronze sculpture. Along with the winners, each finalist becomes a permanent member of the National Book Foundation family.

Writers who have won the award include William Faulkner, Marianne Moore, Ralph Ellison, John Cheever, Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, Robert Lowell, Walker Percy, John Updike, Katherine Anne Porter, Norman Mailer, Lillian Hellman, Elizabeth Bishop, Saul Bellow, Donald Barthelme, Flannery O’Connor, Adrienne Rich, Thomas Pynchon, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Alice Walker, Charles Johnson, E. Annie Proulx, and Colum McCann.

On Thursday, October 6, the National Book Foundation announced the top five finalists from each category. Check out the finalists below.


Chris Bachelder, The Throwback Special

Paulette Jiles, News of the World

Karan Mahajan, The Association of Small Bombs

Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad

Jacqueline Woodson, Another Brooklyn

Judges: James English, Karen Joy Fowler, T. Geronimo Johnson, Julie Otsuka, Jesmyn Ward


Arlie Russell Hochschild, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

Viet Thanh Nguyen, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War

Andres Resendez, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America

Heather Ann Thompson, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

Judges: Cynthia Barnett, Masha Gessen, Greg Grandin, Ronald Rosbottom


Daniel Borzutzky, The Performance of Becoming Human

Rita Dove, Collected Poems 1974 – 2004

Peter Gizzi, Archeophonics

Jay Hopler, The Abridged History of Rainfall

Solmaz Sharif, Look

Judges: Mark Bibbins, Jericho Brown, Katie Ford, Joy Harjo, Tree Swenson

Young People’s Literature

Kate DiCamillo, Raymie Nightingale

John Lewis, Andrew Aydin & Nate Powell, March: Book Three

Grace Lin, When the Sea Turned to Silver

Jason Reynolds, Ghost

Nicola Yoon, The Sun Is Also a Star

Judges: William Alexander, Valerie Lewis, Ellen Oh, Katherine Paterson, Laura Ruby

According to the New York Times, the 2016 Literarian Award will be awarded to Cave Canem, a writer’s center, and the lifetime achievement award will be presented to Robert A. Caro, author of The Power Broker.

The 2016 National Book Awards winners will be announced during a ceremony in New York on Nov. 16.

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