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Colson Whitehead, John Lewis, Rita Dove Among National Book Award Nominees

Andrea Posada Escobar
Getty Images

And so the opening salvo of the National Book Awards has been launched ... gradually.

Over the past four days, the National Book Foundation has been rolling out the lists of nominees for its prestigious literary prize in waves — beginning the week by revealing the nominees for its young people's literature, nonfiction and poetry prizes. On Thursday, the foundation capped the multiday rollout with the release of its longlist of 10 nominees for the fiction prize.

In case you're counting at home, that means 40 works remain in contention for the prize. You can find all of them below, or if you're searching for just one longlist in particular, you can jump to it right here: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature.

Unlike the shortlist for the U.K.-based Man Booker Prize, which was announced Tuesday, the long lists for the National Book Awards still feature their fair share of familiar names — albeit occasionally in different genres than we saw them last. Jacqueline Woodson, who has won an NBA in young people's literature, returns with Another Brooklyn, her first novel for adults in two decades. Viet Thanh Nguyen, who won last year's Pulitzer for his fiction, makes an appearance on the long list for nonfiction for Nothing Ever Dies -- which, like his 2015 novel, delves into the kaleidoscopic legacy of the Vietnam War. And Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, iconic activist and politician, joins his collaborators Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell on the YPL list for their third volume in a graphic memoir series on the civil rights movement.

Still, it's all but impossible to distill a list of 40 works, teeming as they are with all their complexities, down to a few snappy summaries. So instead, we'll leave you with the lists and what to expect next: The finalists will be announced on Oct. 13, and the winners will be announced at a New York gala on Nov. 16.

Until then, happy reading.

National Book Award Longlists


Chris Bachelder,The Throwback Special
Garth Greenwell, What Belongs to You
Adam Haslett, Imagine Me GonePaulette Jiles, News of the World
Karan Mahajan, The Association of Small Bombs
Elizabeth McKenzie,The Portable Veblen
Lydia Millet, Sweet Lamb of Heaven
Brad Watson, Miss Jane
Colson Whitehead, TheUnderground Railroad
Jacqueline Woodson, Another Brooklyn


Andrew J. Bacevich, America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History
Patricia Bell-Scott, The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice
Adam Cohen,Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck
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
Cathy O'Neil,Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy
Andrés Reséndez,The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America
Manisha Sinha, The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition
Heather Ann Thompson, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy


Daniel Borzutzky, The Performance of Becoming Human
Rita Dove, Collected Poems 1974 — 2004
Peter Gizzi, Archeophonic
Donald Hall,The Selected Poems of Donald Hall
Jay Hopler, The Abridged History of Rainfall
Donika Kelly, Bestiary
Jane Mead, World of Made and Unmade
Solmaz Sharif,Look
Monica Youn, Blackacre
Kevin Young, Blue Laws

Young People's Literature

Kwame Alexander,Booked
Kate DiCamillo,Raymie Nightingale
John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell (Artist)March: Book Three
Grace Lin, When the Sea Turned to Silver
Anna-Marie McLemore, When the Moon Was Ours
Meg Medina, Burn Baby Burn
Sara Pennypacker & Jon Klassen (Illustrator), Pax
Jason Reynolds,Ghost
Caren Stelson, Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story
Nicola Yoon, The Sun Is Also A Star

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

Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.