Submissions Open for the 2021 National Book Awards

March 2021



Twenty-five judges in five categories will review submitted titles and select the five Winners of the 72nd National Book Awards

Today, the National Book Foundation opens submissions for the 72nd National Book Awards. The Foundation also announces its 25 judges for this year’s Awards, in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature.

“The judging process for the National Book Awards is a significant commitment, and we have full confidence that this year’s expert panelists will make their decisions with vigorous discernment,” said Jordan Smith, Interim Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. “Their participation will have a long-lasting impact on writers, the literary community, and readers everywhere.”

This year’s judges include writers, booksellers, academics, critics, directors of literary organizations, librarians and translators from across the country. Panelists include a National Book Award Winner, National Book Award Finalists and Longlisted authors; a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 author; a Pulitzer Prize finalist; a National Book Critics Circle Award winner and finalists; a Michael L. Printz Award honor; multiple Whiting Award winners and Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winners; recipients of MacArthur Fellowships, Guggenheim Fellowships, and United States Artists Fellowships.

The judges for the 2021 National Book Awards will select 50 Longlist titles, 10 per category, which will be announced mid-September. There will be 25 Finalists, to be announced on October 5. Winners in all five categories will be announced at the 72nd National Book Awards on November 17.

You can find the judges’ full bios here.

Fiction panel: Alan Michael Parker, Emily Pullen, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, Luis Alberto Urrea (Chair), Charles Yu

Nonfiction panel: Eula Biss, Aaron John Curtis, Nell Painter (Chair), Kate Tuttle, Jerald Walker

Poetry panel: Don Mee Choi, Natalie Diaz, Matthea Harvey, A. Van Jordan (Chair), Ilya Kaminsky

Translated Literature panel: Jessie Chaffee, Sergio de la Pava, Madhu H. Kaza, Achy Obejas, Stephen Snyder (Chair)

Young People’s Literature panel: Pablo Cartaya, Traci Chee, Leslie Connor, Cathryn Mercier (Chair), Ibi Zoboi