NEW YORK — Stories of race, class, and climate change had been one of the fiction finalists Tuesday for its 71st annual National Book Awards.
The National Book Foundation, which presents the awards, also declared five functions in all five categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translation, and young people’s literature. None of the writers have been finalists before, though novelist Lydia Millet was around the fiction longlist of 10. Eight of those finalists were mentioned for their introduction work.
In paring the classes from last month’s longlists, judges left some of this year’s most talked-about novels, such as Brit Bennett’s book”The Vanishing Half” and Isabel Wilkerson’s history of racism from the U.S., “Caste.” A couple of the so-called”Big Five” publishers were closed out completely: Hachette Book Group and Simon & Schuster, though an honorary award will be awarded posthumously to Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy, who expired in May.
Millet’s”A Children’s Bible,” tells of a bunch of young people made to face an ecological disaster while the adults turn off. Other publications in the fiction group comprise Deesha Philyaw’s multigenerational story of Black girls”The Secret Lives of Church Ladies,” Rumaan Alam’s subtle and terrifying”Leave the World Behind,” Douglas Stuart’s working-class family saga”Shuggie Bain,” along with Charles Yu’s satire of stereotypes and Hollywood, “Interior Chinatown.”
In nonfiction, “The Dead Are Arising” marks the second time in recent years a Malcolm X biographer was posthumously mentioned by awards judges. In 2011, Manning Marable expired before the launch of”Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Pulitzer Prize. “The Dead Are Arising” was co-authored by Tamara Payne along with her daddy Les Payne, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who perished in 2018.
Finalists for young people’s literature are Kacen Callender’s”King along with the Dragonflies,” Traci Chee’s”We Aren’t Free,” Candice Iloh’s”Each Body Searching,” Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed’s”When Stars Are Scattered,” and Gabriel Savit’s”Back.”
Winners in each of the competitive classes receive $10,000, together with the money split equally between the writer and translator for the greatest interpreted publication. Judging panels of writers, critics, and others in the bookselling community chosen finalists from almost 1,700 books submitted by publishers.
Winners will be announced during an internet service Nov. 18, with honorary awards to be introduced to Reidy and also to writer Walter Mosley.