Exclusive: National Book Awards to be livestreamed by Facebook Live


The National Book Awards, scheduled for Nov. 15 in New York, are to be streamed on Facebook Live on the National Book Foundation’s Facebook page, opening up the gala ceremony to a wide national audience. General admission tickets for the black-tie event, which is an invitation-only fundraiser, cost $1,250.

In the past, the event has been livestreamed on the National Book Awards site, but the switch to Facebook Live will make it something that is more easily shared with friends as it’s happening. Additionally, it’s being produced by Telescope, which uses a three-camera format — in other words, it will be more like watching a televised awards ceremony (and less like a home video shot from the back of the room).

To enhance the feeling of watching a televised awards ceremony, the National Book Foundation, which presents the awards, has created a ballot (download here) for voting for the winners in its four prize categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature.


The ceremony will be hosted by actress Cynthia Nixon. Although she is best known for her Emmy Award-winning role on “Sex and the City,” this year she won a Tony for her portrayal of Birdie in “Little Foxes” on Broadway. Literarily, she starred as poet Emily Dickinson in the 2016 film “A Quiet Passion.”

The ceremony is to begin streaming at 4:20 p.m. PST (that’s 7:20 p.m. on the East Coast), starting with two pre-announced awards: publisher Scholastic CEO Dick Robinson will get the Literarian Award for its contribution to the national literary community, presented by former president Bill Clinton, and writer Annie Proulx will get the lifetime achievement award, presented by actress Anne Hathaway.

After the first two awards, the gala breaks for dinner. Those watching at home or at their local library will see videos of the finalist reading, which is set to take place Nov. 14 in New York.

When the dinner concludes, the livestream will return for the presentation of the prizes.


There are five finalists in four categories.

The finalists in fiction this year are Elliot Ackerman with “Dark at the Crossing,” Lisa Ko with “The Leavers,” Min Jin Lee with “Pachinko,” Carmen Maria Machado with “Her Body and Other Parties” and previous National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward with “Sing, Unburied, Sing.”

The nonfiction finalists are Erica Armstrong Dunbar with “Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge”; Frances FitzGerald with “The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America”; Masha Gessen with “The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia”; David Grann with “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” and Nancy MacLean with “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.”

Finalists in poetry are Frank Bidart with “Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016”; Leslie Harrison with “The Book of Endings”; Layli Long Soldier with “WHEREAS”; Shane McCrae with “In the Language of My Captor” and Danez Smith with “Don’t Call Us Dead.”

Young adult literature finalists are Elana K. Arnold with “What Girls Are Made Of”; Robin Benway with “Far from the Tree”; Erika L. Sánchez with “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter”; Rita Williams-Garcia with “Clayton Byrd Goes Underground” and Ibi Zoboi with “American Street.”

Twitter: @paperhaus