The 2017 National Book Award finalists

The awards given to winners at the National Book Awards in 2016.
The awards given to winners at the National Book Awards in 2016.
(Carolyn Kellogg / Los Angeles Times)

If there’s anything to be learned from the National Book Award finalists announced today, it’s that the long lists were entirely indicative of where the short lists would go. Women dominated the fiction long list 8-2, and now dominate the shortlist 4-1. And the weighty issues of American politics continue to dominate nonfiction, a category that in years past has included biography and memoir.

With three finalist titles, independent press Graywolf has a standout presence. It’s the only triple finalist; all other individual publishers and imprints have only one book among the 20 finalists.

The biggest surprise may be found in young people’s literature, where popular favorite “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas didn’t make the finalist cut. However, Angeleno Robin Benway did, with her YA novel “Far From the Tree.”


The five finalists in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature are below.


“Dark at the Crossing” by Elliot Ackerman (Knopf)

“The Leavers” by Lisa Ko (Algonquin Books)

“Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee (Grand Central Publishing)

“Her Body and Other Parties: Stories” by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press)

“Sing, Unburied, Sing” by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner)


“Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge” by Erica Armstrong Dunbar (37 Ink)

“The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America” by Frances FitzGerald (Simon & Schuster)

“The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia” by Masha Gessen (Riverhead)

“Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” by David Grann (Doubleday)

“Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America” by Nancy MacLean (Viking)


“Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016” by Frank Bidart (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

“The Book of Endings” by Leslie Harrison (University of Akron Press)

“Whereas” by Layli Long Soldier (Graywolf Press)

“In the Language of My Captor” by Shane McCrae (Wesleyan University Press)

“Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems” by Danez Smith (Graywolf Press)


“What Girls Are Made Of” by Elana K. Arnold (Carolrhoda Lab)

“Far From the Tree” by Robin Benway (HarperTeen)

“I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” by Erika L. Sánchez (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)

“Clayton Byrd Goes Underground” by Rita Williams-Garcia (Amistad)

American Street” by Ibi Zoboi (Balzer + Bray)

See the long lists in young people’s literature, poetry, nonfiction and fiction.

The fundraising gala where the winners will be announced takes place Nov. 15 in New York.



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