Last night the publishing world celebrated the National Book Awards in New York City. Presented by the National Book Foundation, the award ceremony, one of literature’s most prestigious, honors four writers every year, one each for their work in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature.
This year the judges received over 1,500 books for consideration, and from the look of their list of finalists alone, it’s pretty clear that narrowing the pile down to four final winners must’ve been a difficult task. But that said, the winners come as no surprise to most of us. Each winning book earned critical and popular acclaim, proving the vitality and necessity of literature in both our personal lives and public conversations.
Here are the winners:
Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing*
Scribner / Simon & Schuster
Judges: Alexander Chee, Dave Eggers, Annie Philbrick, Karolina Waclawiak, Jacqueline Woodson (Chair)
*This is Ward’s second National Book Award. The first was for her 2011 novel, Salvage the Bones.
Masha Gessen, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House
Judges: Steve Bercu, Jeff Chang, Ruth Franklin, Paula J. Giddings (Chair), Valeria Luiselli
Frank Bidart, Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016
Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers
Judges: Nick Flynn, Jane Mead, Gregory Pardlo, Richard Siken, Monica Youn (Chair)
YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE
Robin Benway, Far from the Tree
HarperTeen / HarperCollins Publishers
Judges: Suzanna Hermans, Brendan Kiely, Kekla Magoon, Meg Medina (Chair), Alex Sanchez
Each winner will receive $10,000, and finalists will receive $1,000.
You can find out more at the National Book Foundation’s website.
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Amy Brady is the Editor-in-Chief of the Chicago Review of Books and Deputy Publisher of Guernica Magazine. Her writing has appeared in Oprah, The Village Voice, Pacific Standard, The New Republic, McSweeney's, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter at @ingredient_x.