The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Thursday, November 26, 2020


National Book Awards names 2020 nominees
Brit Bennett, author of “The Vanishing Half,” in Brooklyn, on April 29, 2020. Bennett's novel about twin Black sisters who decide to take very different paths through life, is among the 10 fiction contenders for this year’s National Book Award. Daniel Dorsa/The New York Times.

by John Williams



NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Two acclaimed debut novels and a story collection whose author died last month are among the 10 fiction contenders for this year’s National Book Award.

The debut novels, which the National Book Foundation announced along with the rest of its fiction longlist Friday, are “A Burning,” by Megha Majumdar, and “Shuggie Bain,” by Douglas Stuart, who had a particularly big week — his book was also named to the shortlist for the Booker Prize Tuesday.

“If I Had Two Wings,” by Randall Kenan, who died at 57 in August, is one of two short story collections on the list, along with “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies,” by Deesha Philyaw. Rumaan Alam’s third novel, “Leave the World Behind,” also made the longlist, as did Brit Bennett’s “The Vanishing Half.”

Isabel Wilkerson (“Caste”) and Jill Lepore (“If Then”) are two familiar names on the longlist for nonfiction. Claudio Saunt’s “Unworthy Republic,” about the dispossession of Native Americans, Frank B. Wilderson III’s “Afropessimism” and Karla Cornejo Villavicencio’s “The Undocumented Americans” were among the nonfiction titles that also made the list.




All 10 of the writers longlisted for poetry are first-time nominees, and two of them are debut authors: Tommye Blount, whose “Fantasia for the Man in Blue” breaks up its title poem about police violence against Black people into a quartet threaded throughout the book, and Anthony Cody, whose “Borderland Apocrypha” uses elements of documentary to write about experiences at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Perumal Murugan’s “The Story of a Goat” is one of the nominees in the translated literature category. The novel, translated from the Tamil by N. Kalyan Raman, is Murugan’s first since he renounced writing in 2015 after being pilloried by right-wing Hindu groups. Not among the contenders is the Dutch novelist Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s “The Discomfort of Evening,” translated by Michele Hutchison and named the winner of this year’s International Booker Prize in August.

The contenders for young people’s literature include Candice Iloh’s “Every Body Looking,” Traci Chee’s “We Are Not Free,” and “When Stars Are Scattered.”

The shortlists of finalists in each category are scheduled to be announced on Oct. 6. The winners, normally announced at an event in New York City, will be unveiled this unusual year during a virtual ceremony on Nov. 18.

© 2020 The New York Times Company










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