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.

2020 National Book Awards Finalists Announced

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 2020 National Book Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature (YPL) were announced with the Washington Post online. The five Finalists in each category were selected by a distinguished panel of literary experts, and were advanced from the Longlists announced in September. Between the five categories, there are two writers who have been previously honored by the National Book Awards: Lydia Millet who was Longlisted in 2016 and Charles Yu, a 2007 5 Under 35 honoree. Eight of the twenty-five Finalists are debuts.

Publishers submitted a total of 1,692 books for this year’s National Book Awards: 388 in Fiction, 609 in Nonfiction, 254 in Poetry, 130 in Translated Literature, and 311 in Young People’s Literature. Judges’ decisions are made independently of the National Book Foundation staff and Board of Directors; deliberations are strictly confidential.

The Winners will be announced on Wednesday, November 18 at the 71st National Book Awards Ceremony, which will be held exclusively online. Two lifetime achievement awards will also be presented as part of the evening’s ceremony: Walter Mosley will be recognized with the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, presented by Edwidge Danticat, and Carolyn Reidy will posthumously receive the Foundation’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.

Finalists for Fiction:

In Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam, Brooklyn couple Amanda and Clay head out on a family vacation to Long Island, but their trip turns uneasy when the homeowners seek refuge following blackouts in New York City. As the world outside moves towards greater unrest, the group faces their perceptions about each other and the very concept of safety. Civilization’s future is at stake in A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet, who holds a master’s degree in environmental policy. The cast of young characters in Millet’s novel easily fend for themselves as their parents remain indifferent to the devastation of the world around them in allegorical tale that defies rationalizations about climate change. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw draws us into the multifaceted lives of Black women across several generations as they engage in self-discovery and seduction. In Philyaw’s first work of fiction, her characters push the boundaries of thought around morality, Christianity, and their community’s expectations. Set in Glasgow in the 1980s, Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart is an epic portrayal of a working-class family haunted by alcoholism. Each of their experiences are portrayed with great care through the eyes of lonely Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, who finds himself at the margins of his own family. Everyone embodies a role in Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu and protagonist Willis Wu strives to land the best one available to an Asian-American man: Kung Fu Guy. Yu’s novel takes the concept of allegory and uses the familiar landscape of Hollywood tropes to create a nuanced, heartfelt, and stylistically unique portrait of Asian-American identity.

Finalists for Nonfiction:

The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio is a keenly reported work in which former DACA recipient Cornejo Villavicencio profiles undocumented people across the country, focusing on their inner lives and value beyond their status and contributions to the economy. The results of decades of research, The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne is a fully realized portrait of Malcolm X. Pulitzer Prize winner Les Payne set out to interview anyone who had ever known Malcolm X, and after his death in 2018, his daughter and researcher Tamara Payne completed his work. Claudio Saunt turns a historian’s eye on President Jackson’s 1830 Indian Removal Act in Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory. Drawing on firsthand accounts and numerous records produced by the federal government, Saunt reveals how the removal of Native Americans was calculated and connected to the growth of the uniquely American form of capitalism. While interning at the Harry Ransom Center in Texas where the papers of writer Carson McCullers are held, Jenn Shapland discovers letters between Carson McCullers and Swiss writer Annemarie Schwarzenbach that imply a romantic relationship between the two. In My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, Shapland plumbs the depths of the Southern writer’s life as well as her own, addressing how queer love stories are hidden and finally told. Jerald Walker’s collection How to Make a Slave and Other Essays includes reflections on the author’s experiences in academia such as racial profiling by a campus security guard, accounts of discussing race with his children, and contemplations on disability and family, all told with a wry comedic eye and deep honesty.

Finalists for Poetry:

 

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s thirteenth collection of poems, A Treatise on Stars, implores that we connect with the larger natural and cosmic world. Two Finalists for Poetry are debut collections, Fantasia for the Man in Blue by Tommye Blount and Borderland Apocrypha by Anthony Cody. The title poem in Fantasia for the Man in Blue is a series of poems ranging throughout the book, a quartet that speaks to the experience and threat of police violence upon Black people. The complex and layered collection is drawn from reality, and exemplifies how desire lives in proximity to the danger of being a marginalized body. A work of documentary poetics, Borderland Apocrypha details the history of trauma and survival at the U.S.-Mexico border. Cody utilizes imagery, historic documents, multi-lingual erasure poems, and more to force a reckoning with history’s silence. Deeply rooted in the personal and political, DMZ Colony by Don Mee Choi is structured in eight sections and includes transcriptions of conversations with activist Ahn Hak-sop, her father’s work as a photojournalist, hand-written texts, and more. Choi deftly explores the histories of South Korea and the United States via her return from South Korea in 2016 after years of living in the states. Natalie Diaz‘s second collection, Postcolonial Love Poem, engages with love and history in an anthem of desire against erasure while simultaneously celebrating her survival as an Indigenous queer woman.

Finalists for Translated Literature:

  • Anja Kampmann, High as the Waters Rise
    Translated from the German by Anne Posten
    Catapult

  • Jonas Hassen Khemiri, The Family Clause
    Translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies
    Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers

  • Yu Miri, Tokyo Ueno Station
    Translated from the Japanese by Morgan Giles
    Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House

  • Pilar Quintana, The Bitch
    Translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman
    World Editions

  • Adania Shibli, Minor Detail
    Translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette
    New Directions

Translated from the German by Anne Posten, High as the Waters Rise by Anja Kampmann explores the emotional life of an oil rig worker whose bunkmate fell into the sea and drowned, setting off a chain of events that force his reckoning with the exploitation of natural resources. Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s The Family Clause, translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies, provides insight on one family across a span of only ten days, during which relationships change and memories are brought to the surface. In Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri and translated from the Japanese by Morgan Giles, ghost narrator Kazu visits the park in which he last lived as a homeless man. As the book unfolds, the reader learns more about his earlier years and the ways in which Japan’s modernization pushed many to the margins of society, where they were subsequently ignored. The Bitch by Pilar Quintana is a portrait of a woman wrestling with abandonment, love, and her need to nurture. Translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman, the narrative follows the main character’s adoption of a dog that disappears into the jungle; when the dog returns, she nurses it to health but when it flees once more, there are brutal consequences. Written by Adania Shibli and translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette, Minor Detail is split between two interrelated narratives, the latter half following a young woman’s search to discover more about the tragic murder of a Palestinian teenager in 1949, who died the day she was born.

Finalists for Young People’s Literature:

In King and the Dragonflies, Kacen Callender’s protagonist Kingston James deals with grief, sexual identity, and the perceptions and expectations of family. Traci Chee’s work of historical fiction We Are Not Free follows fourteen teenage narrators whose lives have been changed by the forced removal of people of Japanese ancestry from their homes during World War II and includes photographs and documents from the time period, enhancing this portrait of a harrowing time in our nation’s history. Told in verse, Candice Iloh’s protagonist Ada reckons with her past while her exploration of dance grounds her in her body and points a way forward in Every Body Looking. The graphic novel When Stars Are Scattered is written and illustrated by the Newbery Honor winner Victoria Jamieson and based on interviews with co-author Omar Mohamed. Their work chronicles the years Mohamed spent in a Kenyan refugee camp, where limbo and hope co-exist as he awaits news about resettlement and watches the lives of those around him change. Jewish folklore infuses The Way Back by Gavriel Savit, in which two young people travel into a world of spirits and demons and must find their way home to their nineteenth-century shtetl Tupik in Eastern Europe.

The 71st National Book Awards Ceremony will be streamed on YouTube and also available at the Foundation’s website, www.nationalbook.org. Winners of the National Book Awards receive $10,000 and a bronze medal and statue; Winners and Finalists in the Translated Literature category will split the prize evenly between author and translator; Finalists receive $1,000 and a bronze medal.

The Awards Ceremony is the culminating event in a series of entirely virtual National Book Awards events to be held in the coming months. This year, 5 Under 35, the Foundation’s celebration of emerging fiction writers selected by National Book Award Winners, Finalists, Longlisted authors, and former 5 Under 35 honorees will take place on October 20 in partnership with the Miami Book Fair online. The annual National Book Awards Teen Press Conference will take place on November 16 in partnership with the Miami Book Fair online. The traditional National Book Awards Finalists Reading will again be hosted by The New School on the evening of November 10 in which all the Finalists will read from their work; this event will be online, free, and open to the public.

National Book Foundation Announces 2020 Fall Season of NBF Presents

National Book Awards authors to appear in a lineup of all virtual programming through 2020

The National Book Foundation today announced its fall NBF Presents lineup of events taking place through December 2020, continuing the expanded programming made possible by a multi-year, $900,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This season of NBF Presents, a moniker under which all of the Foundation’s public programs fall, represents a continued commitment to providing widespread access to high-caliber, topical literary programming that reaches readers everywhere, and now is available to stream in their homes. All announced programming for the fall season will be held exclusively online, and continues the Foundation’s ongoing partnerships with the Brooklyn Book Festival, Miami Book Fair, Portland Book Festival, and Texas Book Festival.

National Book Award–honored authors confirmed to appear at NBF Presents events in the fall season include Carol Anderson, Kwame Alexander, Jericho Brown, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Natalie Diaz, Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Marlon James, Ibram X. Kendi, Deesha Philyaw, Jason Reynolds, Richard Rothstein, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, with more to come.

“NBF Presents has given us the opportunity facilitate timely conversations with audiences and readers around the country that we hope will act as entry points to new ways of understanding,” said Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation, “This season, we are fortunate to be able to bring these events to people wherever they find themselves right now, as part of our ongoing institutional commitment to both access to literary programming and uplifting great books, and the thinkers behind them.”

This fall, NBF Presents will feature three programs with National Book Award–honored authors and expert moderators speaking on topics from Black politics and voter suppression to envisioning a new American curriculum. These events will include a question-and-answer session with the audience and book sales supported by Loyalty Bookstores.

“Book sales and independent bookstores are still hurting, and now, more than ever, is the time to foster partnerships with organizations like the National Book Foundation so we’re able to better act as support systems to one another,” said Hannah Oliver Depp, owner of Loyalty Bookstores. “We are thrilled to partner on NBF Presents events and help continue to expand the audience for great authors and their work.”

The Foundation is deeply appreciative of our partners who have joined together to continue engaging readers through literature, despite in-person programming health and safety constraints.

“The relationships we forge with like-minded stakeholders, both locally and on a national level, are critical in furthering the work we all do,” said Lissette Mendez, director of programs at Miami Book Fair, a seven-year-long partner of the Foundation. “It’s an honor to collaborate with the National Book Foundation to amplify our collective reach in providing access to literary culture and eschewing barriers to participation. I can’t think of a more perfect partner, or a more synergistic affiliation.”

In addition to events featuring National Book Foundation–honored authors, the fall season will include a launch event recognizing the 2020-2021 Literature for Justice Reading List. Annual book festival partnerships continue to celebrate the 2020 National Book Award Longlisters and Finalists in advance of the 71st Annual Awards Ceremony in November. Other signature Awards events, including the Foundation’s annual 5 Under 35 Ceremony and the Finalist Reading, which have previously been in-person events held in New York City, will proceed online in partnership with the Miami Book Fair and The New School, respectively. All Award events, including the Ceremony itself on November 18, have previously been ticketed events, and this year, will be free and open to all.

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

NBF Presents Fall Schedule

Sunday, October 4, 7:00pm EST
Brooklyn Book Festival

NBF Presents: An Evening with the National Book Awards

Join four authors honored by the 2019 National Book Awards for a conversation on contemporary literature, recognition, and cross-genre Black storytelling. Featuring Kwame Alexander (The Undefeated, Longlist, Young People’s Literature), Jericho Brown (The Tradition, Finalist, Poetry), Marlon James (Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Finalist, Fiction), and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership, Longlist, Nonfiction). Moderated by Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation.

 

Wednesday, October 14, 6:00pm EST
NBF Presents: A New Black Politics?

National Book Award Winners Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me) and Ibram X. Kendi (Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America) and Longlister Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership) kick off the virtual mainstage season of NBF Presents for a conversation on the state of Black politics—offering historical context to the global uprising, Black Lives Matter, and response of Black politicians and organizers. Less than a month until the 2020 presidential election, these authors and thinkers consider where this moment leaves Black voters.

 

Tuesday, October 20, 7:00pm EST
Miami Book Fair

5 Under 35 Ceremony

The National Book Foundation presents the 15th annual 5 Under 35 Ceremony to honor five fiction writers under the age of 35: K-Ming Chang (Bestiary), Naima Coster (Halsey Street), Raven Leilani (Luster), Fatima Farheen Mirza (A Place for Us), and C Pam Zhang (How Much of These Hills Is Gold). Their selectors—2019 National Book Award Winner Susan Choi, 2019 National Book Award Finalist Marlon James, 2018 National Book Award Longlister Tayari Jones, 2018 National Book Award Longlister Tommy Orange, and 2012 5 Under 35 honoree Justin Torres—introduce the debut authors who read an excerpt of their work and participate in a live question-and-answer session with the audience. Presented in partnership with the Miami Book Fair.

 

Thursday, October 29, 6:00pm EST
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.

 

Friday, November 6, 6:00pm ET
Portland Book Festival

NBF Presents: An Evening with the National Book Awards

For the third year running, 2020 Longlisters, Finalists, and potential Winners join for a cross-genre panel conversation, presented in partnership with the Portland Book Festival. More information on this year’s line-up coming soon.

 

Tuesday, November 10, 7:00pm ET
The New School
2020 National Book Awards Finalist Reading

All of the National Book Award Finalists in Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature traditionally gather before the Awards Ceremony to read excerpts from their honored works. This year, the program will happen virtually, presented in partnership with The New School.

 

Saturday, November 14, 3:00pm ET
Texas Book Festival
NBF Presents: An Afternoon with the National Book Awards

2020 Longlisters, and potential Finalists and Winners, Natalie Diaz (Postcolonial Love Poem, Poetry) and Deesha Philyaw (The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, Fiction) discuss their work and recognition in advance of the 71st Annual National Book Awards, presented in partnership with the Texas Book Festival. More information on the line-up coming soon.

 

Wednesday, November 18, 7:00pm ET
The 71st National Book Awards Ceremony

The National Book Foundation presents its lifetime achievement awards to the 2020 honorees, and announces this year’s winners of the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature, Translated Literature, Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction.

 

Wednesday, December 2, 3:00pm ET
Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop 

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 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 then 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)—and a live question-and-answer session with the audience. Presented in partnership with Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop.

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

 

Tuesday, December 15, 6:00pm ET
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) and 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) are invested in the next generation of readers and thinkers, from elementary to secondary or “higher” education. 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.

 

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

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

National Book Foundation Announces the Final Literature for Justice Titles

Presenting the third and final reading list in the Art For Justice–funded program, selected by a five-member committee

The National Book Foundation announced selections in the third and final year of the Literature for Justice program (LFJ). This year the list includes seven titles that shed light on mass incarceration in the United States. Also announced today are the five committee members tasked with selecting the titles and elevating their visibility. This committee works alongside the Foundation as part of Literature for Justice, a three-year campaign that seeks to contextualize the issue of mass incarceration through literature, creating an accessible and thought-provoking collection of books crafted for broad public consumption.

These seven titles will serve as the foundation for LFJ’s third year of programming that will include events featuring these authors and committee members, and the selected books are part of a larger, overarching campaign that now includes 17 titles over the course of the program’s three years. Due to the pivot to virtual programming, this year’s committee unanimously elected to highlight seven books, rather than five. Literature for Justice has been made possible by a three-year grant from the Art for Justice Fund, a sponsored project of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, in partnership with the Ford Foundation.

“Literature for Justice has been an inspiring addition to the Foundation’s work, and we are grateful to be able to elevate and champion these essential texts,” said Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. “Sharing the reading lists and the work of thought leaders in the carceral space has expanded the narrative of how books can spark dialogue and contribute to national conversations. We are proud to share another year of Literature for Justice reading as the world’s attention turns to mass incarceration and its systemic roots.”

The 2020-2021 annual Literature for Justice committee is comprised of five esteemed authors who are also experts and leaders within the space of mass incarceration: Susan Burton founded A New Way of Life Reentry Project in 1998, dedicating her life to helping other women break the cycle of incarceration. Her memoir Becoming Ms. Burton, a 2019-2020 Literature for Justice selected title, received a 2018 NAACP Image Award and the inaugural Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice. Natalie Diaz, a recently announced 2020 National Book Award Longlister for Poetry, is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. She is the Director of the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands, and the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University. Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of African American Studies at Princeton University. Glaude is the author of several books including Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. Mariame Kaba is an organizer, educator, and curator who is active in movements for racial, gender, and transformative justice. She is the founder and director of Project NIA, a grassroots organization with a vision to end youth incarceration. Piper Kerman is the author of the memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, which was adapted into an Emmy Award-winning original series for Netflix. Kerman collaborates with nonprofits, philanthropies, and other organizations working in the public interest and serves on the board of directors of the Women’s Prison Association.

“The National Book Foundation works to ensure that books are a central part of our shared culture,” said David Steinberger, Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation. “In addition to its reading list and associated programming, Literature for Justice provides an opportunity to further the Foundation’s efforts to reach readers everywhere through its distribution of LFJ-recognized titles into prisons and facilities across the country.”

These distributions will continue this year through a new partnership with the Million Book Project. This year’s LFJ book selections include poetry, an exploration of art in prisons, reported scholarly works with a localized focus, and the revolutionary autobiography, Assata, by Assata Shakur.

Dionne Brand’s Ossuaries is a book-length poem that follows a central protagonist, Yasmine, as she travels across borders, both physicalAlgeria, Cuba, Canada, the United States—and conceptual, including music and art. Art is the focal point of Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration by Nicole R. Fleetwood, in which Fleetwood bases her narrative on “carceral aesthetics” from interviews with currently and formerly incarcerated artists and family members. The works of the artists, many of which are published for the first time in this volume, underscore the possibilities of art as both an outlet and a radical re-envisioning.

Two titles on this year’s reading list examine California’s position as one of the epicenters of mass incarceration. Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California by Ruth Wilson Gilmore illuminates the exponential growth of California prisons beginning in the early 1980s. Gilmore provides the context of how California’s policies and economy of surplus fueled an expensive, and expansive, prison system, providing a model for the United States and world. In City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771–1965 by last year’s LFJ committee member, Kelly Lytle Hernández details the linkage between colonization and mass incarceration and how the histories of native elimination, immigrant exclusion, and Black disappearance spurred incarceration rates in Los Angeles.

Part collective history and part memoir, Solitary tells the story of a Black Panther Party member, Albert Woodfox, who spent four decades in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit. Woodfox was released in February 2016. Solitary, written by Woodfox with Leslie George, was a National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction in 2019.

The list also highlights two landmark titles surrounding the carceral system’s relationship to Black women. No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity by Sarah Haley depicts the stories of Southern Black women incarcerated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries whose systems of captivity predated Jim Crow laws. Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur recounts her life of activism, experience within the carceral system, and escape from prison in 1979. She was given political asylum by Cuba, where she now resides.

2020-2021 Reading List Selected by this year’s LFJ committee:

Dionne Brand, Ossuaries
McClelland & Stewart / Penguin Random House Canada

Nicole R. Fleetwood, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration
Harvard University Press 

Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California
University of California Press

Sarah Haley, No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity
University of North Carolina Press

Kelly Lytle Hernández, City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771–1965 
University of North Carolina Press

Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography 
Lawrence Hill Books / Chicago Review Press

Albert Woodfox with Leslie George, Solitary
Grove Press / Grove Atlantic

The National Book Foundation Announces 2020 5 Under 35 Honorees

The National Book Foundation announced its annual 5 Under 35 honorees, a se­­lection of five fiction writers under the age of 35 whose debut work promises to leave a lasting impression on the literary landscape. Each honoree was selected by a National Book Award Winner, Finalist, or Longlisted author, or by an author previously recognized by the 5 Under 35 program.

“Since its inception in 2006, 5 Under 35 has highlighted exciting new voices with the goal of championing young authors at the start of their careers,” said David Steinberger, Chair of the National Book Foundation’s Board of Directors. “As we bring these authors into the fold, we are proud of this program’s continued tradition of uplifting unique and unforgettable debut work and introducing new readers to the next generation of ground-breaking authors.”

Throughout their vivid debuts, these five authors tackle family dynamics, identity, mythology, race, and the many meanings of discovery. For the first time in 5 Under 35 history, all of the honorees are women of color. The 2020 cohort has been longlisted by the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and the Booker Prize; and shortlisted for the Kirkus Prize for Fiction and the Lambda Literary Awards. Honorees’ writing has been published by the New York Times, The Cut, Granta, The Paris Review Daily, Kweli, The Yale Review, and more.

“We are so thankful for our expert selectors who read with enthusiasm and skilled discernment,” said Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. “5 Under 35 continues to showcase outstanding craft and storytelling, and we are thrilled to welcome these five remarkable authors to the National Book Foundation family. We couldn’t be more honored to witness their limitless potential.”

This year’s 5 Under 35 selectors are 2019 National Book Award Winner Susan Choi, 2019 National Book Award Finalist Marlon James, 2018 National Book Award Longlister Tayari Jones, 2018 National Book Award Longlister Tommy Orange, and 2012 5 Under 35 honoree Justin Torres. Their decisions are made independently of the National Book Foundation staff and Board of Directors; deliberations are strictly confidential.

Previous Honorees include Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Brit Bennett, Anelise Chen, Yaa Gyasi, Danielle Evans, Isabella Hammad, Lydia Kiesling, Nam Le, Johannes Lichtman, Valeria Luiselli, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Karen Russell, Bryan Washington, Claire Vaye Watkins, Ashley Wurzbacher, and Tiphanie Yanique, as well as National Book Award Finalists Akwaeke Emezi, Angela Flournoy, and Téa Obreht, and 2014 National Book Award Winner Phil Klay.

This year, the 5 Under 35 Ceremony will be presented exclusively digitally on October 20, in partnership with the Miami Book Fair. The honorees each receive a $1,000 prize. 5 Under 35 is sponsored by the Amazon Literary Partnership.

The 2020 5 Under 35 Honorees are:

K-Ming Chang, Bestiary
One World / Penguin Random House
Selected by Justin Torres, 2012 5 Under 35 Honoree

Naima Coster, Halsey Street
Little A / Amazon Publishing
Selected by Tayari Jones, 2018 National Book Award Longlist for Fiction

Raven Leilani, Luster
Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers
Selected by Susan Choi, 2019 National Book Award Winner for Fiction

Fatima Farheen Mirza, A Place for Us
SJP for Hogarth / Penguin Random House
Selected by Tommy Orange, 2018 National Book Award Longlist for Fiction

C Pam Zhang, How Much of These Hills Is Gold
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House
Selected by Marlon James, 2019 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction