You are hereBack to top
National Book Awards 2022
HERE ARE THE 2022 WINNERS OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS
The winners of the five categories are at the top of the list, followed by the full longlist titles and finalists in each category.
The fifty longlist nominees are below, with ten nominees in each category: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People's Literature.
Fiction Winner. An online obituary writer. A young mother with a dark secret. A woman waging a solo campaign against rodents — neighbors, separated only by the thin walls of a low-cost housing complex in the once bustling industrial center of Vacca Vale, Indiana.
Welcome to the Rabbit Hutch. Ethereally beautiful and formidably intelligent, Blandine shares her apartment with three teenage boys she neither likes nor understands, all, like her, now aged out of the state foster care system that has repeatedly failed them, all searching for meaning in their lives.
Nonfiction Winner. An essential, surprising journey through the history, rituals, and landscapes of the American South—and a revelatory argument for why you must understand the South in order to understand America
We all think we know the South. Even those who have never lived there can rattle off a list of signifiers: the Civil War, Gone with the Wind, the Ku Klux Klan, plantations, football, Jim Crow, slavery. But the idiosyncrasies, dispositions, and habits of the region are stranger and more complex than much of the country tends to acknowledge. In South to America, Imani Perry shows that the meaning of American is inextricably linked with the South, and that our understanding of its history and culture is the key to understanding the nation as a whole.
This is the story of a Black woman and native Alabaman returning to the region she has always called home and considering it with fresh eyes. Her journey is full of detours, deep dives, and surprising encounters with places and people. She renders Southerners from all walks of life with sensitivity and honesty, sharing her thoughts about a troubling history and the ritual humiliations and joys that characterize so much of Southern life.
(This book cannot be returned.)
Poetry Winner. A landmark collection of poetry by acclaimed fiction writer, translator, and MacArthur Fellow John Keene, PUNKS: NEW & SELECTED POEMS is a generous treasury in seven sections that spans decades and includes previously unpublished and brand new work. With depth and breadth, PUNKS weaves together historic narratives of loss, lust, and love. The many voices that emerge in these poems--from historic Black personalities, both familial and famous, to the poet's friends and lovers in gay bars and bedrooms--form a cast of characters capable of addressing desire, oppression, AIDS, and grief through sorrowful songs that we sing as hard as we live. At home in countless poetic forms, PUNKS reconfirms John Keene as one of the most important voices in contemporary poetry.
Translated Literature Winner. A blazing new story collection that will make you feel like the house is collapsing in on you, from the 3 time International Booker Prize finalist, "lead[ing] a vanguard of Latin American writers forging their own 21st-century canon.” –O, the Oprah magazine
The seven houses in these seven stories are strange. A person is missing, or a truth, or memory; some rooms are enticing, some unmoored, others empty. But in Samanta Schweblin's tense, visionary tales, something always creeps back inside: a ghost, a fight, trespassers, a list of things to do before you die, a child's first encounter with darkness or the fallibility of parents.
In each story, twists and turns will unnerve and surprise: Schweblin never takes the expected path and instead digs under the skin, revealing surreal truths about our sense of home, of belonging, and of the fragility of our connections with others. This is a masterwork from one of our most brilliant modern writers.
Young People's Literature Winner. Lahore, Pakistan. Then. Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Clouds' Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.
Juniper, California. Now. Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.
Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever. When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.
Fiction Finalist. Pen/Hemingway finalist Jamil Jan Kochai breathes life into his contemporary Afghan characters, moving between modern-day Afghanistan and the Afghan diaspora in America. In these arresting stories verging on both comedy and tragedy, often starring young characters whose bravado is matched by their tenderness, Kochai once again captures “a singular, resonant voice, an American teenager raised by Old World Afghan storytellers.
Fiction Finalist. Gayl Jones, the novelist Toni Morrison discovered decades ago and Tayari Jones recently called her favorite writer, has been described as one of the great literary writers of the 20th century. Now, for the first time in over 20 years, Jones is publishing again. In the wake of her long-awaited fifth novel, Palmares, The Birdcatcher is another singular achievement, a return to the circles of her National Book Award finalist, The Healing.
Set primarily on the island of Ibiza, the story is narrated by the writer Amanda Wordlaw, whose closest friend, a gifted sculptor named Catherine Shuger, is repeatedly institutionalized for trying to kill a husband who never leaves her. The three form a quirky triangle on the white-washed island.
Fiction Finalist. In this contemporary debut novel—an intimate portrait of queer, racial, and class identity —Andrés, a gay Latinx professor, returns to his suburban hometown in the wake of his husband’s infidelity. There he finds himself with no excuse not to attend his twenty-year high school reunion, and hesitantly begins to reconnect with people he used to call friends.
Over the next few weeks, while caring for his aging parents and navigating the neighborhood where he grew up, Andrés falls into old habits with friends he thought he’d left behind. Before long, he unexpectedly becomes entangled with his first love and is forced to tend to past wounds.
Captivating and poignant; a modern coming-of-age story about the essential nature of community, The Town of Babylon is a page-turning novel about young love and a close examination of our social systems and the toll they take when they fail us.
Fiction Finalist. From a brilliant new voice comes an electrifying novel of a young immigrant building a life for herself—a warm, dazzling, and profound saga of queer love, friendship, work, and precarity in twenty-first century America.
Graduating into the long maw of an American recession, Sneha is one of the fortunate ones. She’s moved to Milwaukee for an entry-level corporate job that, grueling as it may be, is the key that unlocks every door: she can pick up the tab at dinner with her new friend Tig, get her college buddy Thom hired alongside her, and send money to her parents back in India. She begins dating women—soon developing a burning crush on Marina, a beguiling and beautiful dancer who always seems just out of reach.
But before long, trouble arrives. Painful secrets rear their heads; jobs go off the rails; evictions loom. Sneha struggles to be truly close and open with anybody, even as her friendships deepen, even as she throws herself headlong into a dizzying romance with Marina. It’s then that Tig begins to draw up a radical solution to their problems, hoping to save them all.
Fiction Nominee. In this heartrending, lyrical debut work of fiction, Fatimah Asghar traces the intense bond of three orphaned siblings who, after their parents die, are left to raise one another. The youngest, Kausar, grapples with the incomprehensible loss of their parents as she also charts out her own understanding of gender; Aisha, the middle sister, spars with her “crybaby” younger sibling as she desperately tries to hold on to her sense of family in an impossible situation; and Noreen, the eldest, does her best in the role of sister-mother while also trying to create a life for herself, on her own terms.
Fiction Nominee. This blood-chilling debut set in New Mexico’s Navajo Nation is equal parts gripping crime thriller, supernatural horror, and poignant portrayal of coming of age on the reservation.
Rita Todacheene is a forensic photographer working for the Albuquerque police force. Her excellent photography skills have cracked many cases—she is almost supernaturally good at capturing details. In fact, Rita has been hiding a secret: she sees the ghosts of crime victims who point her toward the clues that other investigators overlook.
As a lone portal back to the living for traumatized spirits, Rita is terrorized by nagging ghosts who won’t let her sleep and who sabotage her personal life. Her taboo and psychologically harrowing ability was what drove her away from the Navajo reservation, where she was raised by her grandmother. It has isolated her from friends and gotten her in trouble with the law.
And now it might be what gets her killed.
Fiction Nominee. In the 1970s, Topper and Sanya flee to Miami as political violence consumes their native Kingston. But America, as the couple and their two children learn, is far from the promised land. Excluded from society as Black immigrants, the family pushes on through Hurricane Andrew and later the 2008 recession, living in a house so cursed that the pet fish launches itself out of its own tank rather than stay. But even as things fall apart, the family remains motivated, often to its own detriment, by what their younger son, Trelawny, calls “the exquisite, racking compulsion to survive.”
Fiction Nominee. Set in Newman’s home state of Alaska, Nobody Gets Out Alive is an exhilarating collection about women struggling to survive not just grizzly bears and charging moose, but the raw legacy of their marriages and families.
Alongside stories set in today’s Last Frontier—rife with suburban sprawl, global warming, and opioid addiction—Newman delves into remote wilderness of the 1970s and 80s, bringing to life young girls and single moms in search of a wilder, freer, more adventurous America. The final story takes place in a railroad camp in 1915, where an outspoken heiress stages an elaborate theatrical production in order to seduce the wife of her husband’s employer.
Fiction Nominee. Set against the tropics and megacities of the Americas, Maria, Maria takes inspiration from wild creatures, tarot, and the porous borders between life and death. Motivated by love and its inverse, grief, the characters who inhabit these stories negotiate boldly with nature to cast their desired ends. As the enigmatic community college professor in “Brujería for Beginners” reminds us: “There’s always a price for conjuring in darkness. You won’t always know what it is until payment is due.” This commitment drives the disturbingly faithful widow in “Tijuca,” who promises to bury her husband’s head in the rich dirt of the jungle, and the sisters in “Moksha,” who are tempted by a sleek obsidian dagger once held by a vampiric idol.
But magic isn’t limited to the women who wield it. As Rubio so brilliantly elucidates, animals are powerful magicians too. Subversive pigeons and hungry jaguars are called upon in “Tunnels,” and a lonely little girl runs free with a resurrected saber-toothed tiger in “Burial.” A colorful catalog of gallery exhibits from animals in therapy is featured in “Art Show,” including the Almost Philandering Fox, who longs after the red pelt of another, and the recently rehabilitated Paranoid Peacocks.
Nonfiction Finalist. A silent epidemic of chronic illnesses afflicts tens of millions of Americans: these are diseases that are poorly understood, frequently marginalized, and can go undiagnosed and unrecognized altogether. Renowned writer Meghan O’Rourke delivers a revelatory investigation into this elusive category of “invisible” illness that encompasses autoimmune diseases, post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, and now long COVID, synthesizing the personal and the universal to help all of us through this new frontier.
Drawing on her own medical experiences as well as a decade of interviews with doctors, patients, researchers, and public health experts, O’Rourke traces the history of Western definitions of illness, and reveals how inherited ideas of cause, diagnosis, and treatment have led us to ignore a host of hard-to-understand medical conditions, ones that resist easy description or simple cures. And as America faces this health crisis of extraordinary proportions, the populations most likely to be neglected by our institutions include women, the working class, and people of color.
Nonfiction Finalist. Breathless is the story of SARS-CoV-2 and its fierce journey through the human population, as seen by the scientists who study its origin, its ever-changing nature, and its capacity to kill us. David Quammen expertly shows how strange new viruses emerge from animals into humans as we disrupt wild ecosystems, and how those viruses adapt to their human hosts, sometimes causing global catastrophe. He explains why this coronavirus will probably be a “forever virus,” destined to circulate among humans and bedevil us endlessly, in one variant form or another. As scientists labor to catch it, comprehend it, and control it, with their high-tech tools and methods, the virus finds ways of escape.
Breathless takes you inside the frantic international effort to understand and control SARS-CoV-2 as if we were peering over the shoulders of the brilliant scientists who led the chase.
Nonfiction Finalist. For Ingrid Rojas Contreras, magic runs in the family. Raised amid the political violence of 1980s and '90s Colombia, in a house bustling with her mother’s fortune-telling clients, she was a hard child to surprise. Her maternal grandfather, Nono, was a renowned curandero, a community healer gifted with what the family called “the secrets”: the power to talk to the dead, tell the future, treat the sick, and move the clouds. And as the first woman to inherit “the secrets,” Rojas Contreras’ mother was just as powerful. Mami delighted in her ability to appear in two places at once, and she could cast out even the most persistent spirits with nothing more than a glass of water.
This legacy had always felt like it belonged to her mother and grandfather, until, while living in the U.S. in her twenties, Rojas Contreras suffered a head injury that left her with amnesia. As she regained partial memory, her family was excited to tell her that this had happened before: Decades ago Mami had taken a fall that left her with amnesia, too. And when she recovered, she had gained access to “the secrets.”
Nonfiction Finalist. The events of that day are now tragically familiar: on May 25, 2020, George Floyd became the latest Black person to die at the hands of the police, murdered outside of a Minneapolis convenience store by white officer Derek Chauvin. The video recording of his death set off the largest protest movement in the history of the United States, awakening millions to the pervasiveness of racial injustice. But long before his face was painted onto countless murals and his name became synonymous with civil rights, Floyd was a father, partner, athlete, and friend who constantly strove for a better life.
His Name Is George Floyd tells the story of a beloved figure from Houston's housing projects as he faced the stifling systemic pressures that come with being a Black man in America. Placing his narrative within the context of the country's enduring legacy of institutional racism, this deeply reported account examines Floyd's family roots in slavery and sharecropping, the segregation of his schools, the overpolicing of his community amid a wave of mass incarceration, and the callous disregard toward his struggle with addiction—putting today's inequality into uniquely human terms. READ OUR REVIEW HERE!
Nonfiction Nominee. John A. Farrell’s magnificent biography of Edward M. Kennedy is the first single-volume life of the great figure since his death. Farrell’s long acquaintance with the Kennedy universe and the acclaim accorded his previous books—including his New York Times bestselling biography of Richard Nixon, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize—helped garner him access to a remarkable range of new sources, including segments of Kennedy’s personal diary and his private confessions to members of his family in the days that followed the accident on Chappaquiddick. Farrell is, without question, one of America’s greatest political biographers and a storyteller of deep wisdom and empathy. His book does full justice to this famously epic and turbulent life of almost unimaginable tragedy and triumph.
Nonfiction Nominee. How does time shape consciousness and consciousness, time? Do we live in time, or does time live in us? And how does music, with its patterns of rhythm and harmony, inform our experience of time?
Uncommon Measure explores these questions from the perspective of a young Korean American who dedicated herself to perfecting her art until performance anxiety forced her to give up the dream of becoming a concert solo violinist. Anchoring her story in illuminating research in neuroscience and quantum physics, Hodges traces her own passage through difficult family dynamics, prejudice, and enormous personal expectations to come to terms with the meaning of a life reimagined--one still shaped by classical music but moving toward the freedom of improvisation.
Nonfiction Nominee. Bad Mexicans tells the dramatic story of the magonistas, the migrant rebels who sparked the 1910 Mexican Revolution from the United States. Led by a brilliant but ill-tempered radical named Ricardo Flores Magón, the magonistas were a motley band of journalists, miners, migrant workers, and more, who organized thousands of Mexican workers—and American dissidents—to their cause. Determined to oust Mexico’s dictator, Porfirio Díaz, who encouraged the plunder of his country by U.S. imperialists such as Guggenheim and Rockefeller, the rebels had to outrun and outsmart the swarm of U. S. authorities vested in protecting the Diaz regime. The U.S. Departments of War, State, Treasury, and Justice as well as police, sheriffs, and spies, hunted the magonistas across the country. Capturing Ricardo Flores Magón was one of the FBI’s first cases.
This book is hard to find and may not be available, but we'll try! Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nonfiction Nominee. One spring morning, Kathryn Schulz went to lunch with a stranger and fell in love. Having spent years looking for the right relationship, she was dazzled by how swiftly everything changed when she finally met her future wife. But as the two of them began building a life together, Schulz’s beloved father—a charming, brilliant, absentminded Jewish refugee—went into the hospital with a minor heart condition and never came out. Newly in love yet also newly bereft, Schulz was left contending simultaneously with wild joy and terrible grief.
Those twin experiences form the heart of Lost & Found, a profound meditation on the families that make us and the families we make. But Schulz’s book also explores how disappearance and discovery shape us all. On average, we each lose two hundred thousand objects over our lifetime, and Schulz brilliantly illuminates the relationship between those everyday losses and our most devastating ones. Likewise, she explores the importance of seeking, whether for ancient ruins or new ideas, friends, faith, meaning, or love. The resulting book is part memoir, part guidebook to sustaining wonder and gratitude even in the face of loss and grief. A staff writer at The New Yorker and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Schulz writes with curiosity, tenderness, and humor about the connections between joy and sorrow—and between us all.
Nonfiction Nominee. Called a “chronicler of a world on the move” by The New York Review of Books, Anna Badkhen seeks what separates and binds us at a time when one in seven people has left their birthplace, while a pandemic dictates the direst season of rupture in humankind’s remembering. Her new essay collection, Bright Unbearable Reality, comprises eleven essays set on four continents—roving everywhere from Oklahoma to Azerbaijan—and united by a common thread of communion and longing.
In these essays, Badkhen addresses the human condition in the era of such unprecedented dislocation, contemplates the roles of memory and wonder in how we relate to one another, and asks how we can soberly and responsibly counter despair and continue to develop—or at least imagine—an emotional vocabulary against depravity.
Poetry Finalist. Truths about what we have lost and have yet to lose permeate this book-length poem by American Book Award winner and Fulbright scholar Allison Adelle Hedge Coke. An assemblage of historical record and lyric fragments, these poems form a taxonomy of threatened lives--human, plant, and animal--in a century marked by climate emergency. Look at This Blue insists upon a reckoning with and redress of America's continuing violence toward Earth and its peoples, as Hedge Coke's cataloguing of loss crescendos into resistance.
Poetry Finalist. "At the time of have-not, I look at myself in this mirror," writes Olds in this self-scouring, exhilarating volume, which opens with a section of quarantine poems, and at its center boasts what she calls Amherst Balladz (whose syntax honors Emily Dickinson: "she was our Girl - our Woman - / Man enough - for me") and many more in her own contemporary, long-flowing-sentence rhythm. Olds sings of her childhood, young womanhood, and maturity all mixed up together, seeing an early lover in the one who is about to buried; seeing her white privilege without apology; seeing her mother (whom her readers will recognize) "flushed exalted at Punishment time"; seeing how we've spoiled the earth but carrying a stray indoor spider carefully back out to the garden.
Poetry Finalist. In his brilliant, expansive second volume, Whiting Award–winning poet Roger Reeves probes the apocalypses and raptures of humanity—climate change, anti-Black racism, familial and erotic love, ecstasy and loss.
The poems in Best Barbarian roam across the literary and social landscape, from Beowulf’s Grendel to the jazz musician Alice Coltrane, from reckoning with immigration at the U.S.–Mexico border to thinking through the fraught beauty of the moon on a summer night after the police have killed a Black man.
Daring and formally elegant, Best Barbarian asks the reader: “Who has not been an entryway shuddering in the wind / Of another’s want, a rose nailed to some dark longing and bled?”
Poetry Finalist. Shaped around moments of puncture and release, The Rupture Tense registers what leaks across the breached borders between past and future, background and foreground, silence and utterance. In polyphonic and formally restless sequences, Jenny Xie cracks open reverberant, vexed experiences of diasporic homecoming, intergenerational memory transfer, state-enforced amnesia, public secrecies, and the psychic fallout of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Across these poems, memory—historical, collective, personal—stains and erodes. Xie voices what remains irreducible in our complex entanglements with familial ties, language, capitalism, and the histories in which we find ourselves lodged.
Poetry Nominee. From a visionary writer praised for her captivating work on Black history and experience comes a poetry collection exploring personal, political, and artistic frontiers, journeying from her family's history as "Afropioneers" in the American West to shimmering glimpses of transcendent, liberated futures.
In poems that range from wry, tongue-in-cheek observations about contemporary life to more nuanced meditations on her ancestors—some of the earliest Black pioneers to settle in the western United States after Reconstruction—Golden Ax invites readers to re-imagine the West, Black womanhood, and the legacies that shape and sustain the pursuit of freedom.
Poetry Nominee. Confronted with a terminal cancer diagnosis, Jay Hopler--author of the National Book Award-finalist The Abridged History of Rainfall--got to work. The result of that labor is Still Life, a collection of poems that are heartbreaking, terrifying, and deeply, darkly hilarious. In an attempt to find meaning in a life ending right before his eyes, Hopler squares off against monsters real and imagined, personal and historical, and tries not to flinch. This work is no elegy; it's a testament to courage, love, compassion, and the fierceness of the human heart. It's a violently funny but playfully serious fulfillment of what Arseny Tarkovsky called the fundamental purpose of art: a way to prepare for death, be it far in the future or very near at hand.
Poetry Nominee. The mythology of the ancient Egyptians was oriented toward resurrection through the preservation of the human body in mummification. Shenoda juxtaposes this reverence for the human body as sacred matter and a pathway to eternal life with the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European fascination with ingesting Egyptian human remains as medicine and using exhumed Egyptian mummies as paper, paint, and fertilizer. Today Egyptian human remains are displayed in museums. Much of Mummy Eaters is written as a call and response, in the Coptic tradition, between the imagined ancestor and the author as descendant.
Poetry Nominee. Shelley Wong's debut, As She Appears, foregrounds queer women of color in their being and becoming. Following the end of a relationship that was marked by silence, a woman crosses over and embodies the expanse of desire and self-love. Other speakers transform the natural world and themselves, using art and beauty as a means of sanctuary and subversion. With both praise and precision, Wong considers how women inhabit and remake their environment. The ecstatic joys of Pride dances and late-night Chinatown meals, conversations with Frida Kahlo, trees that "burst into glamour," and layers of memory permeate these poems as they travel through suburban California, perfumed fashion runways, to a Fire Island summer. Wong writes in the space where so many do not appear as an invitation for queer women of color to arrive in love, exactly as they are.
Poetry Nominee. Quincy Troupe writes poetry in great waves. The words are just notes. It's the music you make with them that matters. He's not a wordsmith, he's a shaman conjuring long repetitive lines, cadences of looking across the sea towards Africa and haunted by the legacy of slavery and racism, or of remembering fellow conjurers, poets and musical artists, celebrating, always celebrating, but never only that.
Troupe is a generous and gregarious poet in this giant offering that includes many new poems, as well as a selection chosen from across his eleven previously published volumes. What's remarkable is the constancy, the energy, and how he's always looking right at you in the here and now, and at the same time sees something over your shoulder that others don't see yet, maybe a distant storm gathering over the waters, something we're going to need to rise up and face soon enough.
Translated Literature Finalist. Asle is an aging painter and widower who lives alone on the west coast of Norway. His only friends are his neighbor, Åsleik, a traditional fisherman-farmer, and Beyer, a gallerist who lives in the city. There, in Bj rgvin, lives another Asle, also a painter but lonely and consumed by alcohol. Asle and Asle are doppelgängers--two versions of the same person, two versions of the same life. Written in melodious and hypnotic "slow prose," A New Name is the final installment of Jon Fosse's Septology, "a major work of Scandinavian fiction" (Hari Kunzru) and an exquisite metaphysical novel about love, art, God, friendship, and the passage of time.
Translated Literature Finalist. In four beautifully woven parts, Mukasonga spins a marvelous recounting of the clash between ancient Rwandan beliefs and the missionaries determined to replace them with European Christianity.
When a rogue priest is defrocked for fusing the gospels with the martyrdom of Kibogo, a fierce clash of cults ensues. Swirling with the heady smell of wet earth and flashes of acerbic humor, Mukasonga brings to life the vital mythologies that imbue the Rwandan spirit. In doing so, she gives us a tale of disarming simplicity and profound universal truth.
Kibogo’s story is reserved for the evening’s end, when women sit around a fire drinking honeyed brew, when just a few are able to stave off sleep. With heads nodding, drifting into the mist of a dream, one faithful storyteller will weave the old legends of the hillside, stories which church missionaries have done everything in their power to expunge.
To some, Kibogo’s tale is founding myth, celestial marvel, magic incantation, bottomless source of hope. To white priests spritzing holy water on shriveled, drought-ridden trees, it looms like red fog over the village: forbidden, satanic, a witchdoctor’s hoax. All debate the twisted roots of this story, but deep down, all secretly wonder – can Kibogo really summon the rain?
Translated Literature Finalist. Fernanda and Annelise are so close they are practically sisters: a double image, inseparable. So how does Fernanda end up bound on the floor of a deserted cabin, held hostage by one of her teachers and estranged from Annelise?
When Fernanda, Annelise, and their friends from the Delta Bilingual Academy convene after school, Annelise leads them in thrilling but increasingly dangerous rituals to a rhinestoned, Dior-scented, drag-queen god of her own invention. Even more perilous is the secret Annelise and Fernanda share, rooted in a dare in which violence meets love. Meanwhile, their literature teacher Miss Clara, who is obsessed with imitating her dead mother, struggles to preserve her deteriorating sanity. Each day she edges nearer to a total break with reality.
Translated Literature Finalist. Welcome to the not-too-distant future: Japan, having vanished from the face of the earth, is now remembered as “the land of sushi.” Hiruko, its former citizen and a climate refugee herself, has a job teaching immigrant children in Denmark with her invented language Panska (Pan-Scandinavian): “homemade language. no country to stay in. three countries I experienced. insufficient space in brain. so made new language. homemade language.”
As she searches for anyone who can still speak her mother tongue, Hiruko soon makes new friends. Her troupe travels to France, encountering an umami cooking competition; a dead whale; an ultra-nationalist named Breivik; unrequited love; Kakuzo robots; red herrings; uranium; an Andalusian matador. Episodic and mesmerizing scenes flash vividly along, and soon they’re all next off to Stockholm.
With its intrepid band of companions, Scattered All Over the Earth (the first novel of a trilogy) may bring to mind Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or a surreal Wind in the Willows, but really is just another sui generis Yoko Tawada masterwork.
Translated Literature Nominee. Ibn Arabi’s Small Death is a sweeping and inventive work of historical fiction that chronicles the life of the great Sufi master and philosopher Ibn Arabi. Known in the West as “Rumi’s teacher,” he was a poet and mystic who proclaimed that love was his religion. Born in twelfth-century Spain during the Golden Age of Islam, Ibn Arabi traveled thousands of miles from Andalusia to distant Azerbaijan, passing through Morocco, Egypt, the Hijaz, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey on a journey of discovery both physical and spiritual. Witness to the wonders and cruelties of his age, exposed to the political rule of four empires, Ibn Arabi wrote masterworks on mysticism that profoundly influenced the world. Alwan’s fictionalized first-person narrative, written from the perspective of Ibn Arabi himself, breathes vivid life into a celebrated and polarizing figure.
Translated Literature Nominee. In Seasons of Purgatory, the fantastical and the visceral merge in tales of tender desire and collective violence, the boredom and brutality of war, and the clash of modern urban life and rural traditions. Mandanipour, banned from publication in his native Iran, vividly renders the individual consciousness in extremis from a variety of perspectives: young and old, man and woman, conscript and prisoner. While delivering a ferocious social critique, these stories are steeped in the poetry and stark beauty of an ancient land and culture.
Translated Literature Nominee. Funny and doom-drenched, The Employees chronicles the fate of the Six-Thousand Ship. The human and humanoid crew members complain about their daily tasks in a series of staff reports and memos. When the ship takes on a number of strange objects from the planet New Discovery, the crew becomes strangely and deeply attached to them, even as tensions boil toward mutiny, especially among the humanoids.
Olga Ravn’s prose is chilling, crackling, exhilarating, and foreboding. The Employees probes into what makes us human, while delivering a hilariously stinging critique of life governed by the logic of productivity. It was shortlisted for the the Ursula K. Le Guin Prize.
Translated Literature Nominee. In August, 1992, a boy and his mother flee the war in Yugoslavia and arrive in Germany. Six months later, the boy’s father joins them, bringing a brown suitcase, insomnia, and a scar on his thigh. Saša Stanišic’s Where You Come From is a novel about this family, whose world is uprooted and remade by war: their history, their life before the conflict, and the years that followed their escape as they created a new life in a new country.
Blending autofiction, fable, and choose-your-own-adventure, Where You Come From is set in a village where only thirteen people remain, in lost and made-up memories, in coincidences, in choices, and in a dragons’ den. Translated by Damion Searls, it’s a novel about homelands, both remembered and imagined, lost and found. A book that playfully twists form and genre with wit and heart to explore questions that lie inside all of us: about language and shame, about arrival and making it just in time, about luck and death, about what role our origins and memories play in our lives.
Translated Literature Nominee. The Nobel Prize–winner’s richest, most sweeping and ambitious novel yet follows the comet-like rise and fall of a mysterious, messianic religious leader as he blazes his way across eighteenth-century Europe.
In the mid-eighteenth century, as new ideas—and a new unrest—begin to sweep the Continent, a young Jew of mysterious origins arrives in a village in Poland. Before long, he has changed not only his name but his persona; visited by what seem to be ecstatic experiences, Jacob Frank casts a charismatic spell that attracts an increasingly fervent following. In the decade to come, Frank will traverse the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires with throngs of disciples in his thrall as he reinvents himself again and again, converts to Islam and then Catholicism, is pilloried as a heretic and revered as the Messiah, and wreaks havoc on the conventional order, Jewish and Christian alike, with scandalous rumors of his sect’s secret rituals and the spread of his increasingly iconoclastic beliefs. The story of Frank—a real historical figure around whom mystery and controversy swirl to this day—is the perfect canvas for the genius and unparalleled reach of Olga Tokarczuk. Narrated through the perspectives of his contemporaries—those who revere him, those who revile him, the friend who betrays him, the lone woman who sees him for what he is—The Books of Jacob captures a world on the cusp of precipitous change, searching for certainty and longing for transcendence.
Young People's Literature Finalist. Stone-in-the-Glen, once a lovely town, has fallen on hard times. Fires, floods, and other calamities have caused the people to lose their library, their school, their park, and even their neighborliness. The people put their faith in the Mayor, a dazzling fellow who promises he alone can help. After all, he is a famous dragon slayer. (At least, no one has seen a dragon in his presence.) Only the clever children of the Orphan House and the kindly Ogress at the edge of town can see how dire the town’s problems are.
Then one day a child goes missing from the Orphan House. At the Mayor’s suggestion, all eyes turn to the Ogress. The Orphans know this can’t be: the Ogress, along with a flock of excellent crows, secretly delivers gifts to the people of Stone-in-the-Glen.
But how can the Orphans tell the story of the Ogress’s goodness to people who refuse to listen? And how can they make their deluded neighbors see the real villain in their midst?
Young People's Literature Finalist. Sixteen-year-old Yamilet Flores prefers to be known for her killer eyeliner, not for being one of the only Mexican kids at her new, mostly white, very rich Catholic school. But at least here no one knows she’s gay, and Yami intends to keep it that way.
After being outed by her crush and ex-best friend before transferring to Slayton Catholic, Yami has new priorities: keep her brother out of trouble, make her mom proud, and, most importantly, don’t fall in love. Granted, she’s never been great at any of those things, but that’s a problem for Future Yami.
The thing is, it’s hard to fake being straight when Bo, the only openly queer girl at school, is so annoyingly perfect. And smart. And talented. And cute. So cute. Either way, Yami isn’t going to make the same mistake again. If word got back to her mom, she could face a lot worse than rejection. So she’ll have to start asking, WWSGD: What would a straight girl do?
Young People's Literature Finalist. On October 16, 1968, during the medal ceremony at the Mexico City Olympics, Tommie Smith, the gold medal winner in the 200-meter sprint, and John Carlos, the bronze medal winner, stood on the podium in black socks and raised their black-gloved fists to protest racial injustice inflicted upon African Americans. Both men were forced to leave the Olympics, received death threats, and faced ostracism and continuing economic hardships.
In his first-ever memoir for young readers, Tommie Smith looks back on his childhood growing up in rural Texas through to his stellar athletic career, culminating in his historic victory and Olympic podium protest.
Young People's Literature Finalist. Maizy has never been to Last Chance, Minnesota . . . until now. Her mom’s plan is just to stay for a couple weeks, until her grandfather gets better. But plans change, and as Maizy spends more time in Last Chance and at the Golden Palace—the restaurant that’s been in her family for generations—she makes some discoveries. For instance:
You can tell a LOT about someone by the way they order food. People can surprise you. Sometimes in good ways, sometimes in disappointing ways. And the Golden Palace has secrets...
Young People's Literature Nominee. Hoodie Rosen's life isn't that bad. Sure, his entire Orthodox Jewish community has just picked up and moved to the quiet, mostly non-Jewish town of Tregaron, but Hoodie's world hasn't changed that much. He's got basketball to play, studies to avoid, and a supermarket full of delicious kosher snacks to eat. The people of Tregaron aren’t happy that so many Orthodox Jews are moving in at once, but that’s not Hoodie’s problem.
That is, until he meets and falls for Anna-Marie Diaz-O’Leary—who happens to be the daughter of the obstinate mayor trying to keep Hoodie’s community out of the town. And things only get more complicated when Tregaron is struck by a series of antisemitic crimes that quickly escalate to deadly violence. As his community turns on him for siding with the enemy, Hoodie finds himself caught between his first love and the only world he’s ever known.
Young People's Literature Nominee. In the realm of Awara, where gods, monsters, and humans exist side by side, Miuko is an ordinary girl resigned to a safe, if uneventful, existence as an innkeeper’s daughter.
But when Miuko is cursed and begins to transform into a demon with a deadly touch, she embarks on a quest to reverse the curse and return to her normal life. Aided by a thieving magpie spirit and continuously thwarted by a demon prince, Miuko must outfox tricksters, escape demon hunters, and negotiate with feral gods if she wants to make it home again.
With her transformation comes power and freedom she never even dreamed of, and she’ll have to decide if saving her soul is worth trying to cram herself back into an ordinary life that no longer fits her… and perhaps never did.
Young People's Literature Nominee. Bree can’t wait for her first day at her new middle school, Enith Brigitha, home to the Mighty Manatees—until she’s stuck with the only elective that fits her schedule, the dreaded Swim 101. The thought of swimming makes Bree more than a little queasy, yet she’s forced to dive headfirst into one of her greatest fears. Lucky for her, Etta, an elderly occupant of her apartment building and former swim team captain, is willing to help.
With Etta’s training and a lot of hard work, Bree suddenly finds her swim-crazed community counting on her to turn the school’s failing team around. But that’s easier said than done, especially when their rival, the prestigious Holyoke Prep, has everything they need to leave the Mighty Manatees in their wake.
Can Bree defy the odds and guide her team to a state championship, or have the Manatees swum their last lap—for good?
Young People's Literature Nominee. New York City, 1922. Nicolás Caraveo, a 17-year-old transgender boy from Wisconsin, has no interest in the city’s glamor. Going to New York is all about establishing himself as a young professional, which could set up his future—and his life as a man—and benefit his family.
Nick rents a small house in West Egg from his 18-year-old cousin, Daisy Fabrega, who lives in fashionable East Egg near her wealthy fiancé, Tom—and Nick is shocked to find that his cousin now goes by Daisy Fay, has erased all signs of her Latine heritage, and now passes seamlessly as white.
Nick’s neighbor in West Egg is a mysterious young man named Jay Gatsby, whose castle-like mansion is the stage for parties so extravagant that they both dazzle and terrify Nick. At one of these parties, Nick learns that the spectacle is all meant to impress a girl from Jay’s past—Daisy. And he learns something else: Jay is also transgender.
As Nick is pulled deeper into the glittery culture of decadence, he spends more time with Jay, aiming to help his new friend reconnect with his lost love. But Nick's feelings grow more complicated when he finds himself falling hard for Jay's openness, idealism, and unfounded faith in the American Dream.
Young People's Literature Nominee. Lotus Bloom just wants to express herself--with her violin, her retro style, and her peaceful vibe, not to mention her fabulous hair. This school year, Lotus is taking her talent and spirit to the seventh grade at a new school of the arts. The one where she just might get to play under the famous maestro, a violin virtuoso and conductor of the orchestra. But Lotus's best friend, Rebel, thinks Lotus should stay at their school. Why should this fancy new school get all the funding and pull the brightest kids out? Rebel wants Lotus to help her protest, but Lotus isn't sure. If she's going to be in the spotlight, she'd rather it be for her music.
Then, when boys throw paper wads and airplanes into Lotus's afro, Lotus finds herself in trouble for a dress code violation. Lotus must choose--should she stay quiet and risk her beloved hair, or put aside her peaceful vibe and risk everything to fight back?