Paul Harding and Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah among National Book Award finalists

Paul Harding, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah and Monica Youn are among the finalists for the 2023 National Book Awards, to be announced in November at a ceremony in New York.

The finalists, announced by the New York Times on Tuesday morning, include 25 writers and translators across the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature and young people’s literature.

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The nominees for fiction include two former five under 35 nominees: Justin Torres, for Blackouts, an exploration of the multigenerational gaps in queer histories based on the real 20th-century studies collected in Sex Variants: A Study of Homosexual Patterns; and Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, whose dystopian novel Chain-Gang All-Stars imagines a private for-profit prison system that stages live-broadcast, gladiator-style death matches for inmates’ freedom.

The other nominees are Aaliyah Bilal’s debut short story collection Temple Folk, which considers the Black Muslim experience in America; the 2010 Pulitzer-winner Paul Harding’s novel This Other Eden, an inventive history of a mixed-race fishing community off the coast of Maine from the 1700s through the early 1900s; and Hanna Pylväinen’s The End of Drum-Time, a romance between a Lutheran minister’s daughter and a native Sámi reindeer herder set in 1850s Scandinavia.

In nonfiction, historian Ned Blackhawk’s The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of US History refigures five centuries of history to argue that Indigenous peoples have played an essential role in the development of American democracy. The journalist John Vaillant’s Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World uses the 2016 Fort McMurray fire in central Canada as a window to a future of climate catastrophe. In We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I: A Palestinian Memoir, the attorney and activist Raja Shehadeh investigates his complicated relationship with his father, a Palestinian human rights activist who was assassinated in 1985; in Liliana’s Invincible Summer: A Sister’s Search for Justice, Cristina Rivera Garza travels to Mexico City to reclaim the case file for her sister’s unsolved murder 30 years ago. And in Ordinary Notes, Christina Sharpe stitches a collage of the Black American experience in 248 notes.

Monica YounMonica Youn. Photograph: Beowulf Sheehan

Youn, a finalist for poetry in 2010 and long-listed in 2016, is nominated for her collection From From, which reflects on anti-Asian violence in the US and puts the question “where are you from from” back on readers. Other nominees include John Lee Clark’s How to Communicate; Evie Shockley’s suddenly we; Brandon Som’s Tripas; and Craig Santos Perez’s From Unincorporated Territory [åmot], the fifth collection in a series dedicated to his homeland of Guåhan (Guam).

The finalists for translated literature include Bora Chung’s Cursed Bunny, translated from Korean by Anton Hur; David Diop’s Beyond the Door of No Return, translated from French by Sam Taylor; Stênio Gardel’s The Words that Remain, translated from Portuguese by Bruna Dantas Lobato; Pilar Quintana’s Abyss, translated from Spanish by Lisa Dillman; and Astrid Roemer’s On a Woman’s Madness, translated from Dutch by Lucy Scott.

Kenneth M Cadow’s debut novel Gather and Huda Fahmy’s graphic novel Huda F Cares? are among the finalists for young people’s literature, along with Vashti Harrison’s picture book Big, Katherine Marsh’s novel The Lost Year and Dan Santat’s graphic memoir A First Time For Everything.

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A panel of judges selected the finalists from 1,931 submissions by publishers – 496 in fiction, 638 in nonfiction, 295 in poetry, 154 in translated literature and 348 in young people’s literature.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on Wednesday, 15 November, at New York’s Cipriani Wall Street, featuring Oprah Winfrey as a special guest. First-place selections receive $10,000, a bronze medal and a statute; all finalists receive $1,000 and a bronze medal. The ceremony will also feature lifetime achievement awards for the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rita Dove and Paul Yamazaki, the principal buyer at City Lights Booksellers and Publishers.

Last year’s winners included Tess Gunty for her debut novel the Rabbit Hutch, set at a low-income housing community in Indiana, and the historian Imani Perry’s South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation.