The mission of the National Book Foundation and the National Book Awards is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America. Since 1996, independent panels of five writers have chosen the National Book Award winners in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature.
This year’s panelists include; Sharon Draper, who chairs the Young People’s Literature panel of judges; and Ruth Simmons, the first Black president of Brown University, who serves as a Nonfiction judge.
Since 2001 there have been 35 African-American nominees for National Book Awards. AALBC.com is very proud to recognize these authors as they, along was so many others not recognized here, represent the best of American literature.
Troy’s Note: I’ll go on record and predict a win for Woodson. UPDATE: Woodson did go on to win the award!
James McBride, The Good Lord Bird (Fiction) – Winner
Adrian Matejka, The Big Smoke (Poetry) – Finalist
Roger Bonair-Agard, Bury My Clothes (Poetry) – Longlist
Alaya Dawn Johnson, The Summer Prince (Young People’s Literature) Longlist
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones (Fiction) – Winner
Manning Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (Nonfiction) – Finalist
Nikky Finney, Head Off & Split (Poetry) – Winner
Yusef Kamunyakaa, The Chameleon Counch (Poetry) – Finalist
On Nikky Finney’s acceptance speech for the Poetry Award, John Litgow said, “That was the best acceptance speech for anything I’ve ever heard in my life.” I would agree.
Nathaniel Mackey, Splay Anthem (Poetry) – Winner
Walter Dean Myers, Autobiography of My Dead Brother (Young People’s Literature) – Finalist
Thanks to Sherrie Young, the National Book Foundation’s Director of Marketing and Special Projects, for her support in compiling this information.