Looking for a book to read? Here’s the long list for National Book Awards fiction


The 2021 National Book Awards Longlist: Fiction

By The New Yorker September 17, 2021

Silhouettes of a figure with animals in an abstract forest scenery.

Illustration by Eve Liu

This week, The New Yorker announced the longlists for the 2021 National Book Awards. Earlier, we presented the lists for Young People’s LiteratureTranslated LiteraturePoetry, and Nonfiction.

This year’s longlist for the National Book Award for Fiction includes three début novels: Jakob Guanzon’s “Abundance,” which captures twenty-four hours in the precarious life of a homeless father and son; “The Prophets,” by Robert Jones, Jr., a gay love story set on an antebellum cotton plantation; and the poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers’s “The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois,” a family saga that spans more than a century of African American history.

Four of the ten authors in contention for the prize—Richard Powers, Elizabeth McCracken, Lauren Groff, and Anthony Doerr—have been recognized in the fiction category of the National Book Awards before. Other titles on the list include “Zorrie,” by Laird Hunt, who served as a judge for the award last year; “Intimacies,” by Katie Kitamura, a novel narrated by an unnamed translator at the International Criminal Court; and “Hell of a Book,” by Jason Mott, which turns the book tour, a familiar fixture of the literary-publicity apparatus, into a surreal exploration of race and artistic expression. The full list is below.

Anthony Doerr, “Cloud Cuckoo Land
Scribner / Simon & Schuster

Lauren Groff, “Matrix
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House

Jakob Guanzon, “Abundance
Graywolf Press

Laird Hunt, “Zorrie
Bloomsbury Publishing

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, “The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois
Harper / HarperCollins Publishers

Robert Jones, Jr., “The Prophets
G. P. Putnam’s Sons / Penguin Random House

Katie Kitamura, “Intimacies
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House

Elizabeth McCracken, “The Souvenir Museum: Stories
Ecco / HarperCollins Publishers

Jason Mott, “Hell of a Book
Dutton / Penguin Random House

Richard Powers, “Bewilderment
W. W. Norton & Company

The judges for the prize this year are Luis Alberto Urrea, a professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, a Guggenheim Fellow, and the author of, most recently, “The House of Broken Angels”; Alan Michael Parker, the author of nine poetry collections and four novels, including “Christmas in July”; Emily Pullen, the reader-services coördinator for the New York Public Library; Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, the author of “The Revisioners” and “A Kind of Freedom”; and Charles Yu, the author of “Interior Chinatown,” which won the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction.

The New Yorker offers a signature blend of news, culture, and the arts. It has been published since February 21, 1925.

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