Perhaps you're an avid reader — or you're just stuck at home and suddenly have more time to read. Either way, if you're looking for reading recommendations, why not start with one of the 50 works contending for a National Book Award?
The National Book Foundation released its annual book award longlists over the past few days, ending with fiction on Friday, featuring work from seasoned and debut writers alike, as well as a collection of short stories from an author who died last month.
There are 10 nominees in each of five categories — fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature and young people's literature. The finalists will be whittled from this list and announced Oct. 6.
The winners, typically announced at a live ceremony in New York City, will be revealed in a virtual event on Nov. 18. At the ceremony, the National Book Foundation will also present American novelist Walter Mosley with a medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
The two debut fiction novel nominees are A Burning by Megha Majumdar, and Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, which was also named to the shortlist for the Booker Prize on Tuesday. Also in the running are two short story collections — If I Had Two Wings by Randall Kenan, who died in August at age 57, and The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, the debut collection from Deesha Philyaw.
In nonfiction, Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson is nominated for the prize with her book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Historian Jill Lepore is a repeat nominee, with her new book If Then.
The 10 poets on this year's poetry longlist are all first-time contenders for the National Book Awards, with work from two debut authors: Fantasia for the Man in Blue by Tommye Blount, and Borderland Apocrypha by Anthony Cody.
View the nominees for each of the five categories below.
Young People's Literature
Rumaan Alam, Leave the World Behind
Christopher Beha, The Index of Self-Destructive Acts
Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half
Randall Kenan, If I Had Two Wings
Megha Majumdar, A Burning
Lydia Millet, A Children's Bible
Deesha Philyaw, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain
Vanessa Veselka, The Great Offshore Grounds
Charles Yu, Interior Chinatown
Michelle Bowdler, Is Rape a Crime?: A Memoir, an Investigation, and a Manifesto
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, The Undocumented Americans
Jill Lepore, If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future
Les Payne and Tamara Payne, The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X
Claudio Saunt, Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory
Jenn Shapland, My Autobiography of Carson McCullers
Jonathan C. Slaght, Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World's Largest Owl
Jerald Walker, How to Make a Slave and Other Essays
Frank B. Wilderson III, Afropessimism
Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
Rick Barot, The Galleons
Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, A Treatise on Stars
Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Travesty Generator
Tommye Blount, Fantasia for the Man in Blue
Victoria Chang, Obit
Don Mee Choi, DMZ Colony
Anthony Cody, Borderland Apocrypha
Eduardo C. Corral, Guillotine
Natalie Diaz, Postcolonial Love Poem
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, The Age of Phillis
Shokoofeh Azar, The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree. Translated from the Persian by Anonymous.
Linda Boström Knausgård, The Helios Disaster. Translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles.
Anja Kampmann, High as the Waters Rise. Translated from the German by Anne Posten.
Jonas Hassen Khemiri, The Family Clause. Translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies.
Fernanda Melchor, Hurricane Season. Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes.
Yu Miri, Tokyo Ueno Station. Translated from the Japanese by Morgan Giles.
Perumal Murugan, The Story of a Goat. Translated from the Tamil by N. Kalyan Raman
Cho Nam-Joo, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982. Translated from the Korean by Jamie Chang.
Pilar Quintana, The Bitch. Translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman.
Adania Shibli, Minor Detail. Translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette.
Young People's Literature
Kacen Callender, King and the Dragonflies
Traci Chee, We Are Not Free
Evette Dionne, Lifting as We Climb: Black Women's Battle for the Ballot Box
Eric Gansworth, Apple (Skin to the Core)
Candice Iloh, Every Body Looking
Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, When Stars Are Scattered
Marcella Pixley, Trowbridge Road
John Rocco, How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity's Greatest Adventure
Gavriel Savit, The Way Back
Aiden Thomas, Cemetery Boys
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
Corrected: September 17, 2020 at 8:00 PM AKDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly said the National Book Foundation released the longlists for its awards on Friday. The lists for the five categories were announced throughout the week. The story also said the virtual awards ceremony will be Nov. 11. The event is scheduled for Nov. 18. In addition, the story had said Isabel Wilkerson had been nominated in the past. This is her first nomination for the National Book Awards.