National Book Foundation Announces Update to the National Book Awards Eligibility Criteria

February 2024



The National Book Foundation (NBF) announced an expansion of the eligibility criteria for the National Book Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. In addition to authors who hold US citizenship, authors who maintain their primary, long-term home in the United States, US territories, or Tribal lands will now be eligible for consideration. The updated criteria will go into effect on March 13, when submissions open for the 75th National Book Awards.

“The Foundation is eager to take this key step towards ensuring that the National Book Awards are welcoming to all writers living and working in the United States,” said Ruth Dickey, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. “As we reflect on the rich 75-year history of the National Book Awards and look to the future, we believe that the National Book Awards must celebrate the widest possible array of voices and stories published in the United States in order to continue bringing essential works to readers and communities across the country.”

The new criteria announced today will sunset the petition process for non-US citizens instituted in 2018, which expanded eligibility in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature to include authors actively pursuing, or unable to pursue, US citizenship. The National Book Award for Translated Literature, first introduced in 2018, has never had a citizenship requirement for author or translator. While the petition process marked a necessary and important step away from the long-standing citizenship requirement, the Foundation recognizes the importance of removing procedural hurdles for non-US citizens.

“The fundamental mission of the National Book Foundation is to celebrate the best literature published in the United States, and to ensure that books remain at the forefront of our vibrant culture,” said David Steinberger, Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation. “We believe in the value of all stories, and it is our hope that by further opening our existing submissions process, the National Book Awards will be more reflective of the US literary landscape and better able to recognize the immense literary contributions of authors that consider the United States their home.”

The updated eligibility criteria read as follows:

To be eligible for the National Book Awards, books must be published by US publishers located in the United States. The publication date must be within the eligibility period of December 1, 2023 and November 30, 2024.

For the Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature Awards, authors must either hold US citizenship or maintain their primary, long-term home in the United States, US territories, or Tribal lands, regardless of immigration status, at the commencement of the eligibility period for the current Awards cycle. For the Translated Literature Award, there are no citizenship or residency requirements for either author or translator.

Submissions for the 2024 National Book Awards will open on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. The judges for the 2024 National Book Awards, also to be announced on March 13, will select 50 Longlist titles, 10 per category, which will be announced mid-September, and 25 Finalists, to be announced on Tuesday, October 1, 2024. Winners in all five categories will be announced at the 75th National Book Awards on Wednesday, November 20, 2024. The complete list of deadlines and guidelines can be found at the Foundation’s website.

(Photo credit: Nathalie Schueller)