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National Book Awards 2020 shortlists announced

In the US, the shortlists for the 2020 National Book Awards have been announced.

The shortlisted titles in each category are:


  • Leave the World Behind  (Rumaan Alam, Bloomsbury)
  • A Children’s Bible (Lydia Millet, W W Norton)
  • The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (Deesha Philyaw, West Virginia University Press)
  • Shuggie Bain (Douglas Stuart, Picador)
  • Interior Chinatown (Charles Yu, Pantheon)


  • The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X (Les Payne & Tamara Payne, Viking)
  • Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory (Claudio Saunt, W W Norton)
  • My Autobiography of Carson McCullers (Jenn Shapland, Tin House)
  • The Undocumented Americans (Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, One World)
  • How To Make a Slave and Other Essays (Jerald Walker, Ohio State University / Mad Creek)


  • A Treatise on Stars (Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, New Directions)
  • Fantasia for the Man in Blue (Tommye Blount, Four Way Books)
  • DMZ Colony (Don Mee Choi, Wave)
  • Borderland Apocrypha (Anthony Cody, Omnidawn)
  • Postcolonial Love Poem (Natalie Diaz, Faber)

Translated literature

  • High as the Waters Rise (Anja Kampmann, trans by Anne Posten, Catapult)
  • The Family Clause (Jonas Hassen, trans by Khemiri Alice Menzies, Harvill Secker)
  • Tokyo Ueno Station (Yu Miri, trans by Morgan Giles, Tilted Axis Press)
  • The Bitch (Pilar Quintana, trans by Lisa Dillman, World Editions)
  • Minor Detail (Adania Shibli, trans by Elisabeth Jaquette, Text)

Young people’s literature

  • King and the Dragonflies (Kacen Callender, Scholastic)
  • We Are Not Free (Traci Chee, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Every Body Looking (Candice Iloh, Dutton)
  • When Stars Are Scattered (Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed, Faber)
  • The Way Back (Gavriel Savit, Penguin).

Administered by the US National Book Foundation, the winners of each category to receive $10,000, while each finalist receives $1000. Earlier this year Iranian–Australian writer Shokoofeh Azar became the first Australian writer to be longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award for Translated Literature for her novel The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree (trans by Anonymous, Wild Dingo Press).

The winners on the 2020 awards will be announced at a ceremony in New York City on 20 November, where two lifetime achievement awards will also be awarded: writer Walter Mosley will receive the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and late Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy will receive the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.

For more information about this year’s awards, see the National Book Foundation website.


Category: International news