Elizabeth Acevedo, Sigrid Nunez among National Book Award winners

Elizabeth Acevedo after winning the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for her novel "The Poet X."
(Manny Carabel / Getty Images)

The winners of the 2018 National Book Awards were announced at a ceremony in New York on Wednesday night, with almost all of the prestigious literary prizes going to authors of color.

Sigrid Nunez took home the fiction award for “The Friend,” her novel about a woman who inherits a Great Dane after the death of her mentor. Finalists in the category included Lauren Groff (“Florida”) and Rebecca Makkai (“The Great Believers”).

Isabel Allende was presented a pre-announced lifetime achievement award, and she provided a powerful yet entertaining speech. Nick Offerman served as host for the awards gala, which was streamed live on Facebook.


The nonfiction award went to UC Santa Barbara professor Jeffrey C. Stewart for “The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke,” a biography about the first African American Rhodes scholar and key figure in the Harlem Renaissance.

Elizabeth Acevedo was named the winner in the young people’s literature category for her debut novel, “The Poet X,” about a girl in Harlem trying to reconcile her religious upbringing with her newfound love of slam poetry.

The winner in the poetry category was Justin Phillip Reed for his collection “Indecency.” Reed’s prize is the first National Book Award for Coffee House Press, the 34-year-old Minneapolis publisher of poetry, literary fiction and nonfiction.

This was the first year for a new National Book Awards category: translated literature. The winners of that prize were author Yoko Tawada and translator Margaret Mitsutani for “The Emissary.”

Winners of National Book Awards receive a medal, a statue and a $10,000 cash prize (in the translated literature category, the author and translator split the money).