The Emmy-nominated producer and activist will be the master of ceremonies for the 2022 National Book Awards
The National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards, announced Padma Lakshmi, award-winning television host and New York Times bestselling author, will host the 73rd National Book Awards on November 16, 2022.
“The National Book Awards Ceremony is the highlight of our work each year celebrating exceptional literature,” said Ruth Dickey, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. “We are honored that Padma Lakshmi will bring her passion for books, storytellers, and human connection to this year’s in-person Benefit Dinner.”
Lakshmi is the creator, host, and executive producer of the critically acclaimed Hulu series Taste the Nation; host and executive producer of Top Chef; bestselling author of multiple cookbooks, a memoir, and a children’s book; the co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America; and an advocate for immigrants’ rights, women’s rights, and food justice.
On November 16, Lakshmi will serve as master of ceremonies for the National Book Awards Ceremony, where the Winners in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature will be announced. The in-person Ceremony, which will be broadcast live for readers everywhere, will also include the presentation of two lifetime achievement awards. Art Spiegelman will be recognized with the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, presented by Neil Gaiman, and Tracie D. Hall will be presented with the Foundation’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.
In addition to announcing the National Book Award Winners, the Benefit Dinner drives funding for the Foundation’s year-round educational and public programming. For more information about the National Book Awards and Awards-related events, visit nationalbook.org/awards.
ABOUT PADMA LAKSHMI:
Padma Lakshmi is an Emmy-nominated producer, food expert, television host, and New York Times bestselling author. She is the creator, host, and executive producer of the critically acclaimed Hulu series Taste the Nation, which received multiple Critics Choice Real TV Awards in both 2021 and 2022, a 2021 Gotham Award nomination for Breakthrough Series, and the 2022 James Beard Award for Visual Media—Long Form. Taste the Nation is currently gearing up for its third season.
Lakshmi also serves as host and executive producer of Bravo’s two-time Emmy-winning series Top Chef, which has been nominated for 37 Emmys, including her now four-time nomination for Outstanding Host for A Reality or Competition Program. Lakshmi also won the 2022 Critics Choice Real TV Award for Best Show Host for both Taste the Nation and Top Chef.
Lakshmi is the co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America. She is an ACLU Artist Ambassador for immigrants’ rights and women’s rights, and was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme.
By hosting two successful cooking shows—Padma’s Passport and Planet Food—Padma established herself as a food expert early in her career. She also wrote the bestselling Easy Exotic, which won the Best First Book award at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Lakshmi followed this with the publication of her second cookbook, Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day and her memoir, the New York Times bestselling Love, Loss and What We Ate. She later published The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs: An Essential Guide to the Flavors of the World. In 2021, Lakshmi released her first children’s book, the New York Times bestselling Tomatoes for Neela, illustrated by award-winning artist Juana Martinez-Neal.
Lakshmi is a visiting scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She received the 2018 Karma Award from Variety, as well as the 2016 Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
Twenty-five Finalists to contend for National Book Awards in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature
The twenty-five Finalists for the 2022 National Book Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature were announced with the New York Times. The five Finalists in each category were selected by a distinguished panel of judges, and were advanced from the Longlists announced in September with The New Yorker.
Between the five categories, there are six writers and one translator who have been previously honored by the National Book Awards: Gayl Jones, a 1998 Fiction Finalist; Scholastique Mukasonga, a 2019 Translated Literature Finalist; Sharon Olds, a 2002 Poetry Finalist; David Quammen, a 2018 Nonfiction Longlister; Yoko Tawada and Margaret Mitsutani, the 2018 Translated Literature Winners; and Jenny Xie, a 2018 Poetry Finalist. All five of the Finalists for Young People’s Literature are first-time National Book Award honorees. Six of the twenty-five Finalist titles are debuts.
Publishers submitted a total of 1,772 books for this year’s National Book Awards: 463 in Fiction, 607 in Nonfiction, 260 in Poetry, 146 in Translated Literature, and 296 in Young People’s Literature. Judges’ decisions are made independently of the National Book Foundation staff and Board of Directors, and deliberations are strictly confidential.
The Winners will be announced live on Wednesday, November 16 at the invitation-only 73rd National Book Awards Ceremony & Benefit Dinner, in person at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, and broadcast live for readers everywhere. Two lifetime achievement awards will also be presented as part of the evening’s ceremony: Art Spiegelman will be recognized with the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, presented by Neil Gaiman, and Tracie D. Hall will receive the Foundation’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.
Tess Gunty’s debut novel, The Rabbit Hutch, takes place over the course of one week and centers around the residents of a dilapidated affordable housing complex in fictionalized Vacca Vale, Indiana. The Birdcatcher by Gayl Jones follows a coterie of Black American artists in Ibiza—a writer and her closest friend, a sculptor whose husband repeatedly institutionalizes her for attempting to murder him. Jamil Jan Kochai explores characters of the Afghan diaspora living in the United States and modern-day Afghanistan as they wrestle with the effects of war and forced displacement in his story collection, The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories. Set in Milwaukee at the height of the Great Recession, Sarah Thankam Mathews’s debut novel All This Could Be Different tells the story of a young queer immigrant who creates a community for herself while grappling with the oppressive demands of capitalism. In Alejandro Varela’s debut The Town of Babylon, a queer Latinx professor returns to suburban Long Island to care for his parents and struggles to revisit, and reconcile, his past and future.
Drawing from her own experiences of living with chronic illness and informed by interviews with scientists, doctors, and patients alike, Meghan O’Rourke sheds light on the often-flawed development of modern Western medicine in The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness. In South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation, Imani Perry blends personal history and travel narrative as she traverses the American South in an examination of race, politics, culture, and identity. David Quammen interviewed close to 100 scientists and health officials to record the scientific response to COVID-19—from the frantic efforts to trace the virus’s origins to the development of an effective vaccine—and the ongoing quest to understand the disease’s long-lasting impacts in Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus. In The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir,Ingrid Rojas Contreras travels to her native Colombia with her mother to disinter the remains of her late grandfather—and unravel generations of ancestral history, and the magic within it. His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice, by Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa, illuminates the life of George Floyd, a man whose untimely death ignited protests against police brutality and racial injustice across the United States.
Allison Adelle Hedge Coke examines America’s long history of violence against people, animals, and the Earth in her book-length poem, Look at This Blue. Over seven sections, Punks: New & Selected Poems covers several decades of John Keene’s career and features unpublished and new work that contemplates love, lust, family, Blackness, and queerness. Sharon Olds considers her relationship with her late mother, grapples with her white privilege, and expresses a deep appreciation for the many stages of life and love in her latest collection, Balladz. In Best Barbarian, Roger Reeves interrogates beloved writers and pop culture figures alike, explores racism in the United States and around the world, and investigates the horrors faced by immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border and Black victims of police brutality. Beginning with poems inspired by photojournalist Li Zhensheng’s rare images of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Jenny Xie’s The Rupture Tense recovers ancestral history through an investigation of state-sanctioned memory loss and intergenerational trauma.
A New Name: Septology VI-VII by Jon Fosse and translated from the Norwegian by Damion Searls is a story of two doppelgängers—both painters named Asle living nearly indistinguishable lives—that explores artmaking, friendship, and faith. Translated from the French by Mark Polizzotti, Scholastique Mukasonga’s Kibogo weaves stories of Rwanda’s core mythologies—those of a country faced with drought, famine, and war—in defiance of the colonialists and Christian missionaries determined to suppress and erase them. Two Catholic high school classmates bond over their mutual love of horror stories and become inseparable, near mirror images of each other in Jawbone by Mónica Ojeda and translated from the Spanish by Sarah Booker. In Seven Empty Houses, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, Samanta Schweblin presents seven different empty houses where families are missing people, memories, love, furniture, or intimacy, in an exploration of the universal desire for human connection. In Scattered All Over the Earth by Yoko Tawada and translated from the Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani, protagonist Hiruko is a refugee from Japan—a country that, along with her mother tongue, no longer exists—who teaches her invented language to young immigrants in Denmark.
In Kelly Barnhill’s The Ogress and the Orphans, the children of the Orphan House are determined to defend a kind Ogress who falls under suspicion and uncover the true villain of Stone-in-the-Glen in this fantastical tale about the power of community. Sonora Reyes’s debut novel The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School introduces readers to 16-year-old Yamilet, a queer Mexican American girl, during her first year as a transfer student at a predominantly white and wealthy Catholic school. Tommie Smith’s graphic memoir Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist For Justice, co-written with Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Emmy Award-winning artist Dawud Anyabwile, details both Smith’s childhood and athletic career, culminating in the Mexico City Olympics of 1968 where Smith, winner of the gold medal in the 200-meter sprint, and John Carlos, winner of the bronze medal, raised their fists in protest of racial injustice. Spanning decades and crossing oceans, Sabaa Tahir’s All My Rage follows the story of a working-class Pakistani American family from their origins in Lahore to their present-day life running a motel in Juniper, California. In Maizy Chen’s Last Chance, Lisa Yee’s titular character spends the summer in Last Chance, Minnesota and, as she and her mother care for her ailing grandfather, discovers family secrets that strengthen her own relationship with her culture.
The National Book Foundation will broadcast the National Book Awards Ceremony on YouTube, Facebook, and the Foundation’s website at nationalbook.org/awards. Winners of the National Book Awards receive $10,000 and a bronze medal and statue; Finalists receive $1,000 and a bronze medal; Winners and Finalists in the Translated Literature category will split the prize evenly between author and translator.
The Awards Ceremony is the culminating event in a series of National Book Awards events. The annual National Book Awards Teen Press Conference, hosted by Rita Williams-Garcia, will take place on the morning of Tuesday, November 15 at 92NY. The National Book Awards Finalists Reading, in which all the Finalists will read from their work, will be hosted at New York University on the evening of November 15; this event will be both in-person and online.