National Book Foundation Announces its 2019 5 Under 35 Honorees

September 2019



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.

“Our 2019 5 Under 35 honorees are new authors of extraordinary promise, but their debut books are remarkable achievements for writers at any stage of their career,” said David Steinberger, Chairman of the National Book Foundation’s Board of Directors. “Like the National Book Awards, 5 Under 35 is part of our mission to celebrate the best literature in America, and it’s a privilege to bring more praise and recognition to these wonderful young authors.”

The 2019 honorees’ books include two collections of short stories and three novels. As a group these titles present a global perspective of literature spanning from Houston to Stockholm to Palestine, and address a variety of substantial themes, including addiction, migration, politics, sports, and LGBTQ identities. Their writing has been published by Alaska Quarterly Review, The Awl, BuzzFeed, GQ, Kenyon Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Times, One Story, Oxford American, The Paris Review, and Tin House.

“Our 14th cohort of 5 Under 35 honorees join an important legacy of authors whose debut works reveal a brilliant talent that is only just beginning to shine,” said Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. “We’re so grateful to welcome these exceptional authors to the National Book Foundation family, and we’re delighted to help share these important new voices with readers across the country.”

This year’s 5 Under 35 selectors are 2016 National Book Award Longlister Garth Greenwell, 2018 Finalist Brandon Hobson, 2016 National Book Award Finalist Viet Thanh Nguyen, 2006 Finalist Dana Spiotta, and 2018 Longlister Nafissa Thompson-Spires. 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, Yaa Gyasi, Danielle Evans, Lydia Kiesling, Nam Le, Valeria Luiselli, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Karen Russell, Justin Torres, Claire Vaye Watkins, and Tiphanie Yanique, as well as National Book Award Longlisted authors Molly Antopol and Akwaeke Emezi, National Book Award Finalists Angela Flournoy and Téa Obreht, and 2014 National Book Award Winner Phil Klay.

The honorees each receive a $1,000 prize and will be celebrated at an invitation-only ceremony in New York City on November 18, 2019. 5 Under 35 is sponsored by the Amazon Literary Partnership.


Anelise Chen, So Many Olympic Exertions
Kaya Press
Selected by Dana Spiotta, 2006 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction

Isabella Hammad, The Parisian
Grove Press / Grove Atlantic
Selected by Viet Thanh Nguyen, 2016 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction

Johannes Lichtman, Such Good Work
Simon & Schuster
Selected by Garth Greenwell, 2016 National Book Award Longlist for Fiction

Bryan Washington, Lot: Stories
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House
Selected by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, 2018 National Book Award Longlist for Fiction

Ashley Wurzbacher, Happy Like This
University of Iowa Press
Selected by Brandon Hobson, 2018 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction