Announcing the Fall Season of NBF Presents!

September 2018



This fall, National Book Awards authors to appear at thirteen events in ten states as part of the first year of NBF Presents

The National Book Foundation today announced its fall NBF Presents lineup of over a dozen events to come between September and the end of the year, driven by new grant funding and anchored by a three-year, $900,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. NBF Presents, a program announced earlier this summer, represents a significant expansion of the Foundation’s programming, with new events to take place at libraries, colleges, festivals, conferences, schools, and performance venues across the country. NBF Presents comprises any events produced by NBF, free or ticketed, that are open to the general public. The announcement of the Foundation’s inaugural NBF Presents fall schedule follows the successful rollout of the first NBF Presents project, Notes from the Reading Life, a series presented with the New York Public Library that took place throughout New York City in the spring.


In addition to the continuation of longstanding partnerships in New York City and Miami, this fall, the National Book Foundation is newly partnering with five book festivals, two colleges, and three libraries to bring National Book Awards authors face to face with readers in communities in Oregon, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Georgia, and more.


“With NBF Presents, we are redoubling our efforts to engage with audiences across the country,” said David Steinberger, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation. “The National Book Awards exist to recognize and elevate significant work, and NBF Presents provides the opportunity to further cultivate a connection between Awards writers and their audiences, to continue to grow and support a nation of engaged, passionate readers.”


Authors recognized by the National Book Foundation and confirmed to appear at NBF Presents events in the fall season include Lesley Nneka Arimah, Patricia Bell-Scott, Daniel Borzutzky, Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Masha Gessen, David Grann, Min Jin Lee, Carmen Maria Machado, Nancy MacLean, Shane McCrae, Jason Reynolds, Erika L. Sánchez, Danez Smith, and Ibi Zoboi with more to come. Authors will appear in conversations and on panels built around cultural and literary themes, presenting a unique opportunity for the Foundation and its partners to curate events topically and to make them relevant in various parts of the country, offering the chance for more communities to access and participate in impactful cultural conversations. With new partnerships opening doors to diverse audiences across the nation, NBF Presents hopes to bring more Americans towards literature to probe, discuss, and engage with contemporary books, award-winning authors, and the most pressing issues of our day. Authors will travel to thirteen events in the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, West Coast, and more, amplifying literary discourse and bringing the excitement of the National Book Awards to all types of readers at festivals, campuses, and libraries.


The fall season of NBF Presents will include the return of partnerships with both the Brooklyn Book Festival (BKBF) and Miami Book Fair. At BKBF on September 16, National Book Awards authors Masha Gessen, Min Jin Lee, Shane McCrae, and Erika L. Sánchez will appear on the panel “NBF Presents: A Morning with the National Book Awards” to discuss craft, their work, and the Awards experience. Miami Book Fair will once again extend invitations to all Longlisted authors to take part in an Awards reading at the fair on November 16.


At the Decatur Book Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, the first of the season’s NBF Presents events, a panel on the intersection of democracy and literature will include Daniel Borzutzky, Nancy MacLean, and Jason Reynolds, who will discuss the role of literature in civic education and the importance of literary access to a thriving democracy, pulling from their unique perspectives as writers of different genres.


“We are ecstatic to work with the National Book Foundation this year,” said Julie Wilson, Executive Director of the AJC Decatur Book Festival. “The NBF Presents program highlights critical conversations about literature and our culture, which resonate so well with our attendees. We look forward to working together on more events in the future.”


In addition to appearances at book festivals throughout the country, NBF Presents events will be hosted at libraries and colleges in North Carolina, New Jersey, California, and Texas. In Greensboro, NC, historian Patricia Bell-Scott, whose book The Firebrand and the First Lady was longlisted for Nonfiction in 2016, will be in conversation with Erica Armstrong Dunbar, author of Never Caught, a 2017 Nonfiction Finalist, on a panel titled “Unearthing Histories: A Conversation About Examining Legacies and Finding Truth.” The authors will appear at the Greensboro Public Library as well as North Carolina A&T State University.


“We are so excited to be hosting National Book Awards authors here in Greensboro,” said Brigitte Blanton, Library Director of the Greensboro Public Library. “It’s an incredible opportunity to have access to such prominent writers, and I know our community will be thrilled with the programming we are able to offer in partnership with the NBF Presents series.”


In 2019, the Foundation will continue partnerships with Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts, Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. These recurring campus events, presented under the program title NBA on Campus in years past and the inspiration for the expanded work through NBF Presents, will take place as part of NBF Presents in 2019. Next year’s lineup will also include the Eat, Drink & Be Literary series, presented since 2006 with the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in addition to new events at venues across the country. The complete spring and summer seasons of NBF Presents will be announced in the new year.


The full list of confirmed fall NBF Presents events can be found below, with additional details forthcoming. An updated NBF Presents calendar will soon be available at the Foundation’s website.


NBF Presents Fall Schedule


September 2

Decatur Book Festival, Atlanta, GA

Democracy & Literature: A Conversation on Why Books Matter with National Book Awardhonored Authors

Are books and literature critical when it comes to protecting and cultivating our democracy? Come hear from three National Book Award–honored authors as they discuss the roles books have in our society. Can they influence the way we think as citizens? Can they contribute to our civic education? This panel will feature 2016 Poetry Winner Daniel Borzutzky (The Performance of Becoming Human), 2016 Young People’s Literature Finalist, 2017 Young People’s Literature Longlister Jason Reynolds (Ghost & Long Way Down), and 2017 Nonfiction Finalist Nancy MacLean (Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Steal Plan for America). Moderated by Pellom McDaniels III, Ph.D. from Emory University where he is the curator of African American collections in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.  


September 16

Brooklyn Book Festival, Brooklyn, NY

A Morning with the National Book Awards

Come hear from a lineup of 2017 National Book Award–honored authors discussing their work, craft, and why literature matters. The panel includes Nonfiction Winner Masha Gessen (The Future Is History), Fiction Finalist Min Jin Lee (Pachinko), Poetry Finalist Shane McCrae (In the Language of My Captor), and Young People’s Literature Finalist Erika L. Sánchez (I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter). Ken Chen, a poet, lawyer, and the Executive Director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, will moderate this panel.


October 13

Boston Book Festival, Boston, MA

Why Do Awards Matter?

In a world where we’ve seen a diversification of award winners in the US and beyond, what does this mean for the literary landscape and for writers themselves? How far have we come, how far do we have left to go, and how will this change writing and reading in the future? Featured in this conversation will be 2017 National Book Award–honored authors Danez Smith (Poetry Finalist, Don’t Call Us Dead), Carmen Maria Machado (Fiction Finalist, Her Body and Other Parties), and 2017 5 Under 35 honoree Lesley Nneka Arimah (What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky) as they discuss their work, achievements, and what awards and accolades mean for authors and readers.


October 14

Wisconsin Book Festival, Madison, WI

Making Sense of One Another: Literature and Connection  

In a country deeply divided by geography, politics, income, and so many other things, join the National Book Foundation at the Wisconsin Book Festival for a conversation exploring how fiction helps us to understand ourselves, our neighbors, and the world around us. Featuring 2015 National Book Award Fiction Finalist Karen Bender (Refund) and others.


October 15

Greensboro Public Library, Greensboro, NC

Unearthing Histories: A Conversation about Examining Legacies and Finding Truth with Patricia Bell-Scott and Erica Armstrong Dunbar

Join the National Book Foundation and the Greensboro Public Library for an evening with 2016 National Book Award Nonfiction Longlister Patricia Bell-Scott (The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice) and 2017 Nonfiction Finalist Erica Armstrong Dunbar (Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge). These two scholars will come together for a discussion about their work to uncover the truth, cast a new light on lesser-known figures from the archives of American history, tell the stories of the marginalized and forgotten, and to deepen our understanding of the world we live in.


October 16

North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC

History as She Said with Patricia Bell-Scott and Erica Armstrong Dunbar

Join the National Book Foundation and North Carolina A&T State University for a discussion with 2016 National Book Award Nonfiction Longlister Patricia Bell-Scott (The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice) and 2017 Nonfiction Finalist Erica Armstrong Dunbar (Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge). These authors will share their roles in elevating stories that have gone too long untold, explore why the stories of these women have been forgotten, why we need to remember them, and how their livessmall and largehelped to change the world.


October 24

Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, CA

Literature for Justice: Five Books that Will Change the Way We Think About Mass Incarceration
Literature can transform the way we look at the world, deepening our understanding of even the most complex issues of today. Recognizing the strength of the written word, the National Book Foundation is launching its Literature for Justice program, which is designed to bring broad awareness to the issue of mass incarceration in America through the power of books. Every year for the next three years the Foundation will announce a list of five books, selected by a committee of writers and experts, that will humanize, contextualize, and render more real the causes, consequences, and complexities of mass incarceration. Join us for the launch of this program at the Los Angeles Public Library, where committee members, authors, experts, activists, and other well-known figures will help announce these illuminating and urgent works. 2008 and 2013 National Book Award Fiction Finalist Rachel Kushner (The Flamethrowers, Telex From Cuba) and 2016 Nonfiction Finalist Heather Ann Thompson (Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy) and others will join in for the launch. This event is made possible by the Art for Justice Fund.


October 27

Texas Book Festival, Austin, TX

An Afternoon with the National Book Awards

On the heels of bringing in a new group of honored authors at the upcoming 2018 National Book Awards, the Foundation continues to celebrate 2017 at the Texas Book Festival. Nonfiction Finalist David Grann (Killers of the Flower Moon) and Young People’s Literature Finalist Ibi Zoboi (American Street), and others will discuss their work, craft, and why literature matters.


November 11

Portland Book Festival, Portland, OR

An Evening with the National Book Awards

Awards season is here at last! Just four days before the 2018 National Book Awards, you’ll have a chance to join the National Book Foundation at the Portland Book Festival to hear from a panel of 2018 Awards Finalists and Longlisted authors (and maybe even forthcoming Winners!). The panel will include writers honored in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature. They’ll be discussing their work, craft, and why literature matters for an evening that encapsulates the excellence of literature in America.  Panelists to be announced following the Longlist announcement.


November 13

The New School, New York City, NY

2018 National Book Awards Finalists Reading

Each fall, on the night before the National Book Awards, all of the Finalists gather at the New School to read from their honored titles at a signature Awards event that is open to the public. The 2018 reading will feature the Finalists in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Young People’s Literature, and the newly added category of Translated Literature. Hosted by Buzzfeed AM to DM’s Isaac Fitzgerald and Saeed Jones. Tickets are $10 to attend. This event is made possible by the New School.


November 16

Miami Book Fair, Miami, FL

An Evening with the National Book Awards Winners, Finalists, and Longlisters

Fresh from the 2018 National Book Awards, join the National Book Foundation at the Miami Book Fair for a special evening that highlights the best of contemporary literature in America. Every 2018 National Book Award Longlister, Finalist, and Winner is invited to Miami for a super-sized Awards reading—the first chance to hear from these honored authors following the whirlwind of the National Book Awards. The reading will feature recognized works from all Awards categories, including Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Young People’s Literature, and—for the first time—the new Translated Literature category. Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, will moderate the evening. This event is made possible by the generosity of the James L. Knight Foundation.


November 18

Houston Public Library, Houston, TX

Author in Focus: James Baldwin and His Literary Legacy

James Baldwin, whose remarkable work represents a significant contribution to the literary world, should be taught and read by all Americans. Yet this literary legend and four-time National Book Award Finalist is too often overlooked in our reading lists, lesson plans, and home libraries. Join the National Book Foundation at the Houston Public Library as it launches a new program celebrating the literary legacy and seminal works of James Baldwin and encouraging readers of today to pick up his books. The program will include a screening of the critically acclaimed film I Am Not Your Negro, and will include a discussion with noteworthy authors and Baldwin scholars (panelists to be announced) addressing the importance of Baldwin and his work’s lasting relevance.  This event was made possible by The Ford Foundation and Velvet Film.


December 5

Rutgers University, Camden, NJ

Democracy and Literature: A Conversation about Why Books Matter with National Book Awards Authors

What do authors see as the role of literature and books in our democracy? Through their writing, do authors actively work to influence the way we think? Do they see their work contributing to our civic education? Come hear National Book Award–honored authors discuss the role of books in exploring the themes and issues that are critical to protecting democracy. Panelists to be announced.


Unless otherwise noted, all programs made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


For times and locations for events, please visit or the websites of any of our partners.




The mission of the National Book Foundation is to celebrate the best literature in America, expand its audience, and ensure that books have a prominent place in American culture. 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; NBF Presents, which brings NBA authors to universities, libraries, festivals, and conferences across the country; Literature for Justice, a project that uses literature to contextualize and humanize the issue of mass incarceration in America; Author in Focus, a series comprised of panels, lectures, and film screenings designed to connect a broad audience with the works of seminal NBF-honored authors, beginning with James Baldwin in 2018; the Innovations in Reading Prize, awarded to individuals and institutions that have developed innovative means of creating and sustaining a lifelong love of reading; the Why Reading Matters conference, an opportunity for writers, activists, educators, librarians, and nonprofit leaders to explore innovative ways to celebrate literature and expand its influence; Book Rich Environments, a partnership with HUD, the US Department of Education, the Urban Libraries Council, and the National Center for Families Learning, which has provided nearly 700,000 books to children and families in public housing authorities around the country; the Teen Press Conference, an opportunity for students to interview the current National Book Award Finalists in Young People’s Literature; Raising Readers, an adult-focused reading initiative to empower adults who work with and raise children to expand their own love of books and reading; and BookUp, a writer-led, after-school reading club for middle-school students.


The National Book Awards 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, including Ralph Ellison, Louise Erdrich, Jonathan Franzen, Denis Johnson, Flannery O’Connor, Adrienne Rich, and Jesmyn Ward.