2022 National Book Award Shortlist Announced

Seabrookers are readers and it is likely many of you have read or at least heard of the books that made this year’s National Book Award shortlist. You can check the list below to see if any of your 2022 favorites made the cut.

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.

2022 Fiction Finalists

The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty
Set over one sweltering week in July and culminating in a bizarre act of violence that finally changes everything, The Rabbit Hutch is a savagely beautiful and bitingly funny snapshot of contemporary America, a gorgeous and provocative tale of loneliness and longing, entrapment and, ultimately, freedom.

­­­­­The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories by Jamil Jan Kochai
Pen/Hemingway finalist Jamil Jan Kochai ​breathes life into his contemporary Afghan characters, moving between modern-day Afghanistan and the Afghan diaspora in America. In these arresting stories verging on both comedy and tragedy, often starring young characters whose bravado is matched by their tenderness, Kochai once again captures “a singular, resonant voice, an American teenager raised by Old World Afghan storytellers.”

The Birdcatcher by Gayl Jones
A study in Black women’s creative expression, and the intensity of their relationships, this work from Jones shows off her range and insight into the vicissitudes of all human nature – rewarding longtime fans and bringing her talent to a new generation of readers.

All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews
A beautiful and capacious novel rendered in singular, unforgettable prose, All This Could Be Different is a wise, tender, and riveting group portrait of young people forging love and community amidst struggle, and a moving story of one immigrant’s journey to make her home in the world.

The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela
Captivating and poignant; a modern coming-of-age story about the essential nature of community, The Town of Babylon is a page-turning novel about young love and a close examination of our social systems and the toll they take when they fail us.

2022 Nonfiction Finalists

The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness by Meghan O’Rourke
A landmark exploration of one of the most consequential and mysterious issues of our time: the rise of chronic illness and autoimmune diseases.

South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation by Imani Perry
This is the story of a Black woman and native Alabaman returning to the region she has always called home and considering it with fresh eyes. Her journey is full of detours, deep dives, and surprising encounters with places and people. She renders Southerners from all walks of life with sensitivity and honesty, sharing her thoughts about a troubling history and the ritual humiliations and joys that characterize so much of Southern life.

Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus by David Quammen
The story of the worldwide scientific quest to decipher the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, trace its source, and make possible the vaccines to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Breathless takes you inside the frantic international effort to understand and control SARS-CoV-2 as if we were peering over the shoulders of the brilliant scientists who led the chase.

The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Interweaving family stories more enchanting than those in any novel, resurrected Colombian history, and her own deeply personal reckonings with the bounds of reality, Rojas Contreras writes her way through the incomprehensible and into her inheritance. The result is a luminous testament to the power of storytelling as a healing art and an invitation to embrace the extraordinary.

His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa
Drawing upon hundreds of interviews with Floyd’s closest friends and family, his elementary school teachers and varsity coaches, civil rights icons, and those in the highest seats of political power, Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa offer a poignant and moving exploration of George Floyd’s America, revealing how a man who simply wanted to breathe ended up touching the world.

2022 Poetry finalists

Look at This Blue by Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
Punks: New & Selected Poems by John Keene
Balladz by Sharon Olds
Best Barbarian by Roger Reeves
The Rupture Tense by Jenny Xie

2022 translated literature finalists

A New Name: Septology VI-VII by Jon Fosse
Kibogo by Scholastique Mukasonga
Jawbone by Mónica Ojeda
Seven Empty Houses by Samanta Schweblin
Scattered All Ove the Earth by Yoko Tawada

2022 Young People’s Literature

The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill
The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes
Victory Stand! by Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes, Dawud Anyabwile
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
Maizy Chen’s Last Chance by Lisa Yee

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 4. A winner in each category will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on November 16, 2022.

Tidelines Editors

(Image credit: National Book Award)