A panel of literary experts chose the five finalists in each of four categories — Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. Decisions are made independently of the National Book Foundation, which presents the awards; longlists were announced in September.
This year, each category included one writer previously honored by the National Book Awards: Jesmyn Ward for Fiction, Frances FitzGerald for Nonfiction, Frank Bidart for Poetry, and Rita Williams-Garcia for Young People’s Literature. In addition, four of the 20 finalists were debuts, including Indie Next List number-one pick for November, Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press).
Publishers submitted 1,529 books for this year’s awards: 394 in Fiction, 553 in Nonfiction, 245 in Poetry, and 337 in Young People’s Literature. To be eligible, books must be published in the United States between December 1, 2016, and November 30, 2017, and be written by a U.S. citizen.
The 2017 National Book Award finalists are:
- Elliot Ackerman, Dark at the Crossing (Knopf/Penguin Random House)
- Lisa Ko, The Leavers (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill/Workman Publishing)
- Min Jin Lee, Pachinko (Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group)
- Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties: Stories (Graywolf Press)
- Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)
- Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge (37 INK/Atria/Simon & Schuster)
- Frances FitzGerald, The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America (Simon & Schuster)
- Masha Gessen, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia (Riverhead Books/Penguin Random House)
- David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI (Doubleday/Penguin Random House)
- Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (Viking/Penguin Random House)
- Frank Bidart, Half-light: Collected Poems 1965–2016 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan)
- Leslie Harrison, The Book of Endings (University of Akron Press)
- Layli Long Soldier, WHEREAS (Graywolf Press)
- Shane McCrae, In the Language of My Captor (Wesleyan University Press)
- Danez Smith, Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems (Graywolf Press)
Young People’s Literature
- Elana K. Arnold, What Girls Are Made Of (Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Publishing Group)
- Robin Benway, Far From the Tree (HarperTeen/HarperCollins)
- Erika L. Sánchez, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House)
- Rita Williams-Garcia, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground (Amistad/HarperCollins)
- Ibi Zoboi, American Street (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins)
Winners will be announced on Wednesday, November 15, at the 68th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, where lifetime achievement awards will also be presented to Annie Proulx, who will receive the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and Dick Robinson, who will receive the Foundation’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Contribution to the American Literary Community.