National Book Awards Names 2019 Finalists

Marlon James’s novel “Black Leopard, Red Wolf,” an epic fantasy about a bounty hunter on the trail of a mysterious boy, on Tuesday was named one of the five fiction finalists for the National Book Award.

James, who won the Man Booker Prize in 2015 for his novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” is up against two debut authors, Kali Fajardo-Anstine, for her story collection “Sabrina & Corina,” and Julia Phillips, for her novel “Disappearing Earth,” about two sisters who are lured into a stranger’s car and disappear in Russia’s remote Kamchatka Peninsula. The two others, both of them previously Pulitzer finalists, are Susan Choi, for “Trust Exercise,” and Laila Lalami, for “The Other Americans.”

The nonfiction finalists include “Solitary,” the memoir of Albert Woodfox, a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement, and “The Yellow House,” Sarah M. Broom’s memoir of her New Orleans family and how its members were scattered after Hurricane Katrina. They will compete with Tressie McMillan Cottom’s “Thick: And Other Essays,” Carolyn Forché’s “What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance” and David Treuer’s “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present.”

The finalists in translated literature include works originally written in Arabic, Finnish, French, Hungarian and Japanese.

All of the winners will be announced on Nov. 20 at an awards ceremony in New York City. Below is a complete list of the 2019 finalists in fiction, nonfiction, translated literature, young people’s literature and poetry.


Susan Choi, “Trust Exercise”

Kali Fajardo-Anstine, “Sabrina & Corina: Stories”

Marlon James, “Black Leopard, Red Wolf”

Laila Lalami, “The Other Americans”

Julia Phillips, “Disappearing Earth”


Sarah M. Broom, “The Yellow House”

Tressie McMillan Cottom, “Thick: And Other Essays”

Carolyn Forché, “What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance”

David Treuer, “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present”

Albert Woodfox with Leslie George, “Solitary”

Translated Literature

Khaled Khalifa, “Death Is Hard Work”

Translated from the Arabic by Leri Price

László Krasznahorkai, “Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming”

Translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet

Scholastique Mukasonga, “The Barefoot Woman”

Translated from the French by Jordan Stump

Yoko Ogawa, “The Memory Police”

Translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder

Pajtim Statovci, “Crossing”

Translated from the Finnish by David Hackston

Young People’s Literature

Akwaeke Emezi, “Pet”

Jason Reynolds, “Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks”

Randy Ribay, “Patron Saints of Nothing”

Laura Ruby, “Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All”

Martin W. Sandler, “1919: The Year That Changed America”


Jericho Brown, “The Tradition”

Toi Derricotte, “I”: New and Selected Poems

Ilya Kaminsky, “Deaf Republic”

Carmen Giménez Smith, “Be Recorder”

Arthur Sze, “Sight Lines”

Follow Alexandra Alter on Twitter: @xanalter.

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