2021 National Book Award Winners Announced

In 1950, the National Book Awards were established to celebrate the best writing in America. Since 1989, they have been overseen by the National Book Foundation (NBF), a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to celebrate the best literature in America, expand its audience, and ensure that books have a prominent place in American culture.” The categories include Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature.

Each year, the Foundation assembles twenty-five distinguished writers, translators, critics, librarians, and booksellers to judge the National Book Awards. These judges select a Longlist of ten titles per category and the list is then narrowed to five Finalists, announced this year on October 6. The winner in each category was announced at the Awards Ceremony on November 17.

The Winners


Hell of a Book by Jason Mott
An African-American author sets out on a cross-country book tour to promote his best-selling novel. Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour? What kind of world will he leave behind? Unforgettably told, with characters who burn in your mind, and an electrifying plot, this is the novel Mott has been writing in his head for the last ten years.


All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles
Miles’s book is a poignant story of resilience and of love passed down through generations of women against steep odds. It honors the creativity and resourcefulness of people who preserved family ties even when official systems refused to do so.


Floaters by Martin Espada

Translated Literature

Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin; translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins

Young People’s Literature

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

For more information on the finalists, the foundation, and the awards, click here. To see the full list and what NPR says about them, click here.

Tidelines Editors

(Images and narratives from NBF website)