National Book Foundation Announces 2021 Spring Season of NBF Presents

Twenty-two National Book Award–honored authors to appear in a lineup of all virtual programming through June 2021

The National Book Foundation announced its spring NBF Presents lineup of 12 events taking place through June 2021, continuing the programming made possible by a multi-year, $900,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. NBF Presents, which includes all of the Foundation’s public programs, represents the National Book Foundation’s continued commitment to providing widespread access to high-caliber, topical literary programming for readers everywhere. All announced programming for this season will be held exclusively online and at no cost to viewers. Loyalty Bookstores in Washington, DC will return as the season’s bookseller.

National Book Award–honored authors and translators confirmed to appear at NBF Presents events in the spring season include Rumaan Alam, Tommye Blount, Jericho Brown, Kacen Callender, Toi Derricotte, Natalie Diaz, Camonghne Felix, Terrance Hayes, Sophie Hughes, Victoria Jamieson, Laila Lalami, Megha Majumdar, Fernanda Melchor, Omar Mohamed, Tamara Payne, Deesha Philyaw, Douglas Stuart, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, David Treuer, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, Isabel Wilkerson, Charles Yu, and more to come.

This season’s NBF Presents events will consider topics both domestic and international—from the history of Blackness in America to the significance of translated literature—and connect authors and translators writing across fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature with readers around the world.

“We are thrilled to offer a second virtual season of NBF Presents and once again bring engaging and timely arts content to audiences wherever they may be watching.” said Jordan Smith, Interim Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, “Our hope is that the words of these authors resonate with viewers and fuel important community conversations.”

Alongside the NBF Presents events hosted by the Foundation online, the National Book Foundation will present programs with returning partners Tucson Festival of Books and Virginia Festival of the Book to celebrate the most recent crop of 2020 National Book Award–honored authors.

“In planning a fully virtual festival for spring 2021, we knew the work wouldn’t be possible without longstanding supporters and partners,” said Brenda Viner, co-founder of the Tucson Festival of Books. “We’re thrilled to celebrate National Book Award–honored authors each year—especially years like this one—and work alongside the National Book Foundation to amplify outstanding books, support independent book sales, and engage our audiences with thought-provoking conversations.”

The Foundation will also connect with students through its continued college partnerships at Amherst College and Concordia College, as well as pilot curated classroom book distributions aligned with the season’s online programming to select college and university partners in Alabama, Hawai’i, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Washington.

“In such a strange and difficult year, it is a real gift for our students to continue engaging with National Book Award–honored authors and their work through NBF Presents programming,” said Dr. Channa Prakash, Dean of Arts & Sciences at Tuskegee University. “There is no better time than now to foster a life-long love of reading and for all students to benefit from the lessons that great literature teaches us.”

The full list of confirmed spring NBF Presents events can be found below, and an updated NBF Presents calendar is available at the Foundation’s website. These are free events but please RSVP directly at the Foundation or partner website as directed.

 

NBF Presents Spring Schedule

Thursday, January 21, 6:00pm ET
NBF YouTube channel
NBF Presents: Happy Debut Year

To kick off the new year, the Foundation celebrates three 2020 National Book Award–honored authors whose first books made an undeniable impact on the literary landscape. Tommye Blount (Fantasia for the Man in Blue, Finalist, Poetry), Megha Majumdar (A Burning, Longlist, Fiction), and Douglas Stuart (Shuggie Bain, Finalist, Fiction) discuss releasing debuts in 2020, discovering an audience, and what comes next, for them and for contemporary literature. Moderated by MJ Franklin, an editor at the New York Times Book Review.

 

Thursday, February 4, 6:00pm ET
NBF YouTube channel
NBF Presents: Black History Reexamined

In two groundbreaking works, 2020 National Book Award–honored authors Tamara Payne (The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, Winner, Nonfiction) and Isabel Wilkerson (Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent, Longlist, Nonfiction) deconstruct and re-contextualize Black experiences in America—Payne through the lens of the famed civil rights leader Malcolm X, and Wilkerson through centuries of racialized hierarchies. Join Payne and Wilkerson for a conversation on research, race, and re-writing American history.

 

Tuesday, February 16, 8:00pm ET
NBF YouTube channel
NBF Presents: Secrets of the South

Join National Book Award–honored authors Jericho Brown (The Tradition, 2019 Poetry Finalist), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage, 2018 Fiction Longlist), and Deesha Philyaw (The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, 2020 Fiction Finalist) for a conversation on Southern literature and how Black writers are redefining stereotypes of the South, one poem, story, and secret at a time. Moderated by Kiese Laymon, author of, most recently, Heavy: An American Memoir.

 

Friday, February 26, 7:00pm ET – Saturday, February 27, 11:00am ET
Amherst College
NBF Presents: LitFest 2021

The National Book Foundation returns to Amherst College’s annual LitFest for the sixth year running with two events dedicated to 2020 National Book Award–honored authors. The celebrations kick off on Friday, February 26 with novelists Megha Majumdar (A Burning, Longlist, Fiction) and Charles Yu (Interior Chinatown, Winner, Fiction), in conversation moderated by visiting writer Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint. Then, on Saturday, February 27, poets Tommye Blount (Fantasia for the Man in Blue, Finalist, Poetry) and Natalie Diaz (Postcolonial Love Poem, Finalist, Poetry) join John Hennessy, poetry editor of The Common and judge for the 2020 National Book Award for Poetry. Both events are free and open to the public. These programs are supported by Amherst College and The Common magazine.

 

Saturday, March 6, 11:00am MST
Tucson Festival of Books
NBF Presents: Page, Stage, and Screen

2020 National Book Award–honored authors Lydia Millet (A Children’s Bible, Finalist, Fiction), Jenn Shapland (My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, Finalist, Nonfiction), and Charles Yu (Interior Chinatown, Winner, Fiction) come together for a cross-genre discussion on inspiration, reading, and recognition. Presented in partnership with the Tucson Festival of Books.

 

Thursday, March 11, 7:30pm CT
Concordia College
NBF Presents: The National Book Awards at Concordia College

The National Book Foundation’s sixteenth year of partnership with Concordia College features a reading and conversation with National Book Award–honored authors Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (When Stars Are Scattered, 2020 Young People’s Literature Finalist) and David Treuer (The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to Present, 2019 Nonfiction Finalist). Moderated by John Ydstie, a former NPR correspondent. This program is supported by Concordia College and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in honor of Earl Lewis ‘78.

 

Saturday, March 13, 7:00pm ET
Virginia Festival of the Book
NBF Presents: The Work of Fiction

Three 2020 honorees for the National Book Award for Fiction: Rumaan Alam (Leave the World Behind, Finalist), Megha Majumdar (A Burning, Longlist), and Deesha Philyaw (The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, Finalist), discuss their books and fiction’s place in contemporary American culture. Presented in partnership with the Virginia Festival of the Book, this event will be available for free on-demand viewing at VaBook.org.

 

Thursday, March 25, 6:00pm ET
NBF YouTube channel
NBF Presents: Borders of Belonging

To question the “other” in American identity, join National Book Award–honored authors Laila Lalami (The Other Americans, 2019 Fiction Finalist), Nafissa Thompson-Spires (Heads of the Colored People, 2018 Fiction Longlist), and Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (The Undocumented Americans, 2020 Nonfiction Finalist) for a conversation on borders, immigration, and outsiders, and what it means to write one’s self into existence. Moderated by Concepción de León, a New York Times reporter.

 

Thursday, April 22, 6:00pm ET
NBF YouTube channel
NBF Presents: Poetry in Protest

It’s National Poetry Month, and to celebrate, National Book Award–honored authors Toi Derricotte (“I”: New and Selected Poems, 2019 Poetry Finalist), Camonghne Felix (Build Yourself a Boat, 2019 Poetry Longlist), and Terrance Hayes (Lighthead, 2010 Poetry Winner; How to Be Drawn, 2015 Poetry Finalist; American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, 2018 Poetry Finalist) discuss the impact of protest poetry on American literature and American politics. Moderated by Kyle Dacuyan, Executive Director of The Poetry Project.

 

Thursday, May 20, 5:00pm ET
NBF YouTube channel
NBF Presents: The Art of Translation

Hurricane Season is the story of a dead witch set in a small town in Mexico. The book, translated from the Spanish, found a global audience and recognition. 2020 National Book Award Longlist author and translator Fernanda Melchor and Sophie Hughes come together for a conversation on the trust-fall act—and art—of literary translation, and the significance of a reader’s access to international perspectives. Moderated by Shuchi Saraswat, writer, editor, and founder of The Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith.

 

Tuesday, June 15, 6:00pm ET
NBF YouTube channel
NBF Presents: Revolutionary Joy

NBF Presents’ season finale recognizes the historical and literary significance of Black trans and nonbinary narratives with National Book Award–honored author Kacen Callender (King and the Dragonflies, 2020 Young People’s Literature Winner), and a discussion on trans and nonbinary stories that make room for both queer pain and joy. More details to come.

 


 

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

To RSVP for events, please visit www.nationalbook.org or the websites of any of our partners.

Watch NBF Presents: A New American Curriculum

National Book Award–honored authors Erica Armstrong Dunbar (Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, Finalist, Nonfiction), Jason Reynolds (Ghost, Finalist, Young People’s Literature; Long Way Down, Longlist, Young People’s Literature; and Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, Finalist, Young People’s Literature), and Tracy K. Smith (Ordinary Light, Finalist, Nonfiction) are invested in the next generation of readers and thinkers. Together, they discuss what a new curriculum can and should look like while the American school system faces ever-increasing challenges of equity and access.

Moderated by Mahogany L. Browne, author, Executive Director of Bowery Poetry Club, and Artistic Director at Urban Word NYC.

NBF Presents is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

To participate in the live chat and submit questions for the Q&A with the authors, please tune in to the conversation directly on YouTube Live.

National Book Foundation Provides Update on Leadership Transition

Following her departure at the end of 2020, Lisa Lucas will become a member of the NBF Board of Directors and Deputy Director Jordan Smith will serve as Interim Executive Director

Following the announcement earlier this year that Lisa Lucas will be stepping down from her role as Executive Director of the National Book Foundation to become Senior Vice President & Publisher of Pantheon and Schocken Books, today the Foundation is sharing the news that Lucas will be joining the Foundation’s Board of Directors, and that Jordan Smith, current Deputy Director, will serve as Interim Executive Director of the Foundation, effective December 18.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to announce these appointments,” said David Steinberger, Chair of the Board of Directors. “Until we complete the formal search process to permanently fill the Executive Director position, we are very fortunate to have such an experienced and proven leader in Deputy Director Jordan Smith, and, of course, we are thrilled to welcome Lisa Lucas in her new capacity as a member of the Foundation’s Board.”

“Having worked alongside Jordan for many, many years, I have complete faith in her ability to ensure that the Foundation’s programs and activities continue to run as smoothly as they are now,” said Lisa Lucas, outgoing Executive Director. “I look forward to seeing all the great work that is to come, and for the opportunity to participate in this next chapter as a member of the Board of Directors.”

“I am grateful to have worked closely with Lisa Lucas and the Board of Directors for the past five years, and to have gained firsthand experience overseeing the Foundation, and maximizing the reach and impact of the work we do,” said Jordan Smith, incoming Interim Executive Director. “I am excited to help shepherd the Foundation during this important transition, and I’m especially pleased to have Lisa’s continued input and connection to our work as part of our Board.”

Smith joined the National Book Foundation in 2016 as Director of Education, and was promoted to Deputy Director in 2019. Prior to her work at the Foundation, Smith spent five years at Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI), where she served as Director of Education. In addition to her work at MoMI, she has worked as an educator and administrator at museums and arts organizations across New York City including the American Folk Art Museum, Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Museum of Modern Art, and Tribeca Film Institute. She holds a BA from Smith College and an MA from New York University.

During her tenure at the Foundation, Smith has been instrumental in growing and expanding programmatic activities, supporting key fundraising initiatives, serving as a supervisor for programs staff and contractual teaching staff, and developing systems around program implementation and tracking that have allowed for more impactful programming, and for the Foundation’s reach to be even greater. One of Smith’s most notable contributions was the design, launch, and oversight of Book Rich Environments, a collaboration with the United States Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, the Urban Libraries Council, and the National Center for Families Learning, which over the past four years has distributed 1.4 million books to young people and families in public housing communities across the country.

Watch Literature for Justice: A Path Forward

The National Book Foundation launches the third and final year of Literature for Justice, a nationwide, book-based campaign that presents an annual reading list to further investigate the carceral system and urge readers forward. The event will feature this year’s committee members Susan Burton, Natalie Diaz, Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Mariame Kaba, and Piper Kerman and selected authors—Dionne Brand (Ossuaries), Nicole R. Fleetwood (Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration), Ruth Wilson Gilmore (Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis and Opposition in Globalizing California), Sarah Haley (No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity), Kelly Lytle Hernández (City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771-1965), and Albert Woodfox (Solitary). Moderated by Naomi Murakawa, author of The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America.

Presented in partnership with Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop and Public Welfare Foundation.

Literature for Justice is supported by the Art for Justice Fund, a sponsored project of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, in partnership with the Ford Foundation.

To participate in the live chat and submit questions for the Q&A with the authors, please tune in to the conversation directly on YouTube Live.

Watch the 2020 National Book Awards Ceremony

On Wednesday, November 18, the National Book Foundation presented the 71st National Book Awards. Awards were given in all five categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People Literature. The evening also included the presentation of two lifetime achievement awards, to Walter Mosley and the late Carolyn Reidy.

If you missed the live event, you can still watch the entire ceremony.

Where to watch the 2020 National Book Awards:

Click here for the Ceremony schedule

Watch the 2020 National Book Awards Teen Press Conference

For the first time ever—the National Book Awards Teen Press Conference is going virtual! Co-presented with the Miami Book Fair and in partnership with the 92nd Street Y, this year’s event will continue a decades-long tradition, bringing the excitement of the most prestigious literary award in the country to New York City’s middle and high school students.

Live online event:
Monday November 16th
10:30am-11:30am ET

Our NYC and Miami school partners have been prepping for the student-generated Q+A with the Finalists for National Book Award in Young People’s Literature and everyone is welcome to watch the livestream on the Miami Book Fair’s website: https://miamibookfaironline.com/event/national-book-foundation-presents-teen-press-conference/

You will need to create an account on the Miami Book Fair website in order to access the event. Once you’ve created an account, you can access the event directly by clicking here.

 

Jason Reynolds. (Photo credit: James J. Reddington)

Hosted by: Jason Reynolds

Jason Reynolds is an award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author. Jason’s many books include Miles Morales: Spider Man, the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), Long Way Down, which received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Correta Scott King Honor, and Look Both Ways, which was a National Book Award Finalist. His latest book, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, is a collaboration with Ibram X. Kendi. Recently named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jason has appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and CBS This Morning. He is on faculty at Lesley University, for the Writing for Young People MFA Program and lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com.

What books will be featured?

FINALISTS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE:

 

Watch the 2020 National Book Awards Finalists Reading

 

Every year, the National Book Foundation partners with The New School’s Creative Writing Program to present readings by each of the National Book Awards Finalists. It’s a special opportunity to hear these celebrated authors together in one place, and you can watch here or directly on YouTube. The 2020 reading features the Finalists in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature and Young People’s Literature.

Jason Reynolds, Author and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, to Host 71st National Book Awards

The award-winning author will be the master of ceremonies for the 2020 National Book Awards

The National Book Foundation announced that Jason Reynolds, acclaimed author, two-time National Book Award Finalist, and current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, will host the 71st National Book Awards on November 18, 2020. In addition, Reynolds will host the Teen Press Conference, in partnership with the Miami Book Fair, on November 16, 2020.

“The National Book Awards events are a continued commitment to literature and its power to transform readers’ lives,” said Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. “Jason Reynolds embodies this commitment, and we are thrilled that he will host this year’s celebration.”

On November 18, Reynolds will serve as master of ceremonies for the National Book Awards that will announce the Winners in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature. The ceremony that evening will also include the presentation of two lifetime achievement awards, to Walter Mosley and the late Carolyn Reidy.

“To be at the forefront of ushering in the celebration of my peers would’ve been a gift at any point in my career. But to do so during this complicated time is nothing short of an honor,” said Jason Reynolds.

Jason Reynolds is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and the 2020-2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Jason’s many books include Miles Morales: Spider Man, the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), Long Way Down, which received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Honor, and Look Both Ways, which was a National Book Award Finalist. His latest book, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, is a collaboration with Ibram X. Kendi. Jason has appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and CBS This Morning. He is on faculty at Lesley University, for the Writing for Young People MFA Program and lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com

Watch NBF Presents: Segregation to Suppression

National Book Award Longlister Richard Rothstein (The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America) investigates government-required neighborhood segregation of Black and white Americans, and Longlister Carol Anderson (One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy) considers the more recent rollbacks on Black voting. Five days out from the 2020 presidential election, join Rothstein and Anderson for a conversation on how government policies inform segregation, housing, and ultimately, voter suppression in America. Moderated by Andre M. Perry, a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings.

To participate in the live chat and submit questions for the Q&A with the authors, please tune in to the conversation directly on YouTube Live.