National Book AwardsThis year’s National Book Awards will be announced on Wednesday, November 18. You can browse the short list and the long list of the finalists in the categories of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, translated literature and young people’s literature at the National Book Award website.

You’ll see that many of the books vying for the top prizes this year reflect themes of diversity, social justice and equity

Each year, the National Book Award’s panel of judges selects a longlist of ten titles per category in each of the five categories. The longlists are then narrowed to five finalists.  Each finalist receives a prize of $1,000, a medal, and a Judge’s citation. Winners receive $10,000 and a bronze sculpture. 

Looking for your next book? You could certainly pick up one of this year’s finalists, or you could browse through the archive of past years’ winners and turn up a wealth of possibilities for your next read.

Back in 1950, Nelson Algren won the National Book Award in Fiction for The Man with the Golden Arm, a novel you can find in our library collection. You can also find a documentary about Algren - Nelson Algren : The End is Nothing , the Road is All -  which recounts milestones in his career:  success following his National Book Award win; the adaptation of The Man with the Golden Arm into an Oscar-nominated film starring Frank Sinatra; the publication of his book Walk on the Wild Side, which inspired Lou Reed’s song by the same title; and the damage done to his career by FBI and CIA surveillance during the Red Scare.

Ten years later, in 1960, Phillip Roth took home the National Board Award in fiction for Goodbye Columbus, which we also have in our collection. That same year, Robert Lowell received the poetry award for his collection Life Stories

In the following decade, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. won the 1979 National Book Award in the non-fiction category for Robert Kennedy and His Times.

Interested in reading more National Book Award winners? You can do a search in HillSearch, the library’s catalog for “National Book Award” to find additional award winners in all categories.

According to the Foundation’s website, The National Book Awards were established in 1950 to celebrate the best writing in America. Since 1989, they have been overseen by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “celebrate the best literature in America, expand its audience, and ensure that books have a prominent place in American culture”. Although other categories have been recognized in the past, the Awards currently honor the best Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature published each year. 

Stay tuned to the newsletter, and we will bring you additional information on this year’s winners. 


Image: National Book Foundation