2015 National Book Awards

2015 National Book Awards Judges

Fiction Judges

Daniel Alarcón is the author of numerous books, including the novel At Night We Walk in Circles, which was a finalist for the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award, and the forthcoming graphic novel City of Clowns, with illustrator Sheila Alvarado. He is Executive Producer of Radio Ambulante, a Spanish language audio journalism project, and teaches at the Columbia University School of Journalism. www.danielalarcon.com 

Jeffery Renard Allen is Professor of English at Queens College of the City University of New York and an instructor in the Writing Program at The New School and New York University. Allen is the author of five books, most recently the novel Song of the Shank; the novel Rails Under My Back, which won the Chicago Tribune's Heartland Prize for Fiction, and the short story collection Holding Pattern, which won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. www.jefferyrenardallen.com

Sarah Bagby is owner of Watermark Books & Café in Wichita, Kansas and, for many years, a book reviewer for KMUW, an NPR affiliate. In addition, she reviews for industry journals and for Watermark’s newsletter. She serves on the American Booksellers Association Board of Directors and is past president of the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association.

Laura Lippman has published more than 20 works of crime fiction—12 in the Tess Monaghan series, eight stand-alone novels, and a collection of short stories. Her work has won multiple awards and has been translated into more than 20 languages. She lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her husband David Simon and their daughter. www.lauralippman.com

David L. Ulin is the author, most recently, of the novella Labyrinth. His other books include The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time, and the Library of America's Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology, which won a California Book Award. He is the book critic and former book editor of the Los Angeles Times.

Nonfiction Judges

Diane Ackerman is the author of 24 books of nonfiction and poetry, including the bestsellers A Natural History of the Senses, The Zookeeper's Wife, and most recently The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us, which received the 2015 PEN Henry David Thoreau Award for Nature Writing. www.dianeackerman.com

Patricia Hill Collins is Distinguished University Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park.  She is the author of eight books, including Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism and On Intellectual Activism. In 2008, she became the 100th President of the American Sociological Association. www.socy.umd.edu/facultyprofile/Collins/Patricia%20Hill

John D'Agata is the author of Halls of Fame, About a Mountain, and The Lifespan of a Fact, and editor of The Next American Essay, The Lost Origins of the Essay, and the forthcoming The Making of the American Essay.  The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Howard Foundation, and Guggenheim Foundation, he teaches creative writing at the University of Iowa, where he directs the MFA in Nonfiction Writing Program.

Paul Holdengräber is founder and director of LIVE from The New York Public Library, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Over the past decade, Holdengräber has curated, interviewed, and hosted over 600 programs, offering cognitive theater at the Library and other venues, as well as speaking with a wide variety of thinkers and writers, including Salman Rushdie, Patti Smith, and Mike Tyson. He holds a doctorate in comparative literature from Princeton University.

Adrienne Mayor is a research scholar in classics and the history of science at Stanford University. She has written five books, including The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, which was a 2009 National Book Award Finalist and won a 2010 Independent Publisher Book Award for Biography. Her work has been translated into ten languages. She is a regular contributor to the award-winning history of science website Wonders and Marvels.

Poetry Judges

Sherman Alexie is a poet, writer, and filmmaker. He has published 24 books, including The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven and the 2009 collection of short stories and poems War Dances, which won the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. His first young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, won the 2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature. His screenplay, Smoke Signals, won the Audience Award and Filmmaker Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. www.shermanalexie.com

Willie Perdomo is the author of The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry; Smoking Lovely, winner of the PEN Beyond Margins Award; and Where a Nickel Costs a Dime, a finalist for the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award.  He is currently a member of the VONA/Voices faculty and is an instructor in English at Phillips Exeter Academy. He is also a former instructor for BookUp, the National Book Foundation’s program for middle school students. www.willieperdomo.com

Katha Pollitt writes the award-winning column “Subject to Debate” for The Nation magazine. She is the author of two books of poetry, including Antarctic Traveller, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1982, and The Mind-Body Problem. She is also the author of the nonfiction works Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism; Learning to Drive: And Other Life Stories; Virginity or Death!: And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time; and Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights.

Tim Seibles is the author of five collections of poetry, including Fast Animal, which won the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize and was a 2012 National Book Award Poetry Finalist. His honors include an Open Voice Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. He teaches at Old Dominion University, and has taught at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program and at Cave Canem.

Jan Weissmiller received an MFA in Poetry from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She was the winner of The Loess Hills Poetry Prize in 1999 for her collection In Divided Light and is an editor of A Poetry Criticism Reader (University of Iowa Press, 2006).  She was the first full-time employee of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City.   In 2008, she and fellow poet Jane Mead bought the store from the original owner, James Harris.  

Young People’s Literature Judges

John Joseph Adams is the series editor of Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy. He is also the editor of the bestselling anthologies The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination and The Living Dead, which was nominated for a World Fantasy Award and named one of the "Best Books of the Year" by Publishers Weekly. In 2011, he was a finalist for the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor, Short Form. He is also editor of Lightspeed magazine, which won the Hugo Award in 2014 for Best Semiprozine. www.johnjosephadams.com 

Teri Lesesne is a professor in the Department of Library Science at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, where she teaches courses in literature for children and young adults. A former middle school English teacher, Teri is the Executive Director of ALAN, the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English. She is the author of three books for reading professionals.

Laura McNeal holds an MA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and is the author of Dark Water, a 2010 Finalist for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature, and You Can’t Leave Me Now: Three Stories of True Crime.  She and her husband Tom McNeal are the authors of Crooked, Zipped, Crushed, and The Decoding of Lana Morris.  Her forthcoming novel, The Incident on the Bridge, will be published by Knopf in the spring of 2016. www.mcnealbooks.com

G. Neri is the Coretta Scott King honor-winning author of Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty and is a recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award for his free-verse novella, Chess Rumble. His novels include Knockout Games, Surf Mules, and the Horace Mann Upstander Award-winning Ghetto Cowboy. His forthcoming novel, Tru & Nelle, about the childhood friendship between Harper Lee and Truman Capote, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the March of 2016. www.gneri.com

Eliot Schrefer is the New York Times bestselling author of Endangered and Threatened, both Finalists for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature. His novels have also been named “Editor’s Choice” in the New York Times, best of the year by NPR, and have won the Green Earth Book Award and the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award. He lives in New York City, where he is also on the faculty of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s MFA in Creative Writing. www.eliotschrefer.com


New Yorker Page-Turner

New York, NY (August 25, 2015) The National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards, will partner with The New Yorker to exclusively reveal this year’s National Book Awards Longlists, ten books each in the categories of Young People's Literature, Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction, selected by four panels of expert judges independent of the Foundation and The New Yorker.

“We are very pleased to be working with the National Book Foundation to highlight some of the best writing in America this year,” said New Yorker editor David Remnick. “Great writing is a hallmark of both institutions.”

The Longlist announcements will be revealed on newyorker.com:

Previous Longlist announcements were made in partnership with The Daily Beast and The New York Times.

The New Yorker and the National Book Awards are natural partners,” said the Foundation’s chairman, David Steinberger, CEO of Perseus Books Group. “This collaboration affords us a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the long, fruitful relationship between New Yorker writers and the Awards.”

While this is the first time the National Book Awards and The New Yorker have formally partnered, there is a long history of New Yorker writers being recognized by the National Book Foundation. The past three Winners of the Award in Nonfiction, Katherine Boo, George Packer, and Evan Osnos, for example, are all known for their work in The New Yorker.

The National Book Award Finalists will be announced on October 14th; Winners will be announced at a gala dinner and ceremony in New York on November 18th. For more information on the Awards and a list of this year’s judges, visit www.nationalbook.org.

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The National Book Foundation's mission is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America. In addition to the National Book Awards, for which it is best known, the Foundation's programs include 5 Under 35, a celebration of emerging fiction writers selected by former National Book Award Finalists and Winners; the National Book Awards Teen Press Conference, an opportunity for New York City students to interview the current National Book Award Finalists in Young People's Literature; NBA on Campus, a partnership that brings National Book Award authors to colleges across the country; the Innovations in Reading Prize, awarded to individuals and institutions that have developed innovative means of creating and sustaining a lifelong love of reading; and BookUp, a writer-led, after-school reading program for middle-school students.

The National Book Award is one of the nation's most prestigious literary prizes and has a stellar record of identifying and rewarding quality writing. In 1950, William Carlos Williams was the first Winner in Poetry, the following year William Faulkner was honored in Fiction, and so on through the years.  Many previous Winners of the National Book Award are now firmly established in the canon of American literature, such as Sherman Alexie, Louise Erdrich, Jonathan Franzen, Denis Johnson, Joyce Carol Oates, and Adrienne Rich.

The New Yorker is a national weekly magazine that offers a signature mix of reporting and commentary on politics, foreign affairs, business, technology, popular culture, and the arts, along with humor, fiction, poetry, and cartoons. Founded in 1925, The New Yorker publishes the best writers of its time and has received more National Magazine Awards than any other magazine, for its groundbreaking reporting, authoritative analysis, and creative inspiration. The New Yorker takes readers beyond the weekly print magazine with the web, mobile, tablet, social media, and signature events.