2023 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 2023 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.

2023 Fiction Finalists

Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
The explosive, hotly-anticipated debut novel from The New York Times-bestselling author of Friday Black, about two top women gladiators fighting for their freedom within a depraved private prison system not so far-removed from America’s own.

Temple Folk by Aaliyah Dilal
A groundbreaking debut short story collection portraying the lived experiences of Black Muslims grappling with faith, family, and freedom in America

This Other Eden by Paul Harding
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Tinkers, a novel inspired by the true story of Malaga Island, an isolated island off the coast of Maine that became one of the first racially integrated towns in the Northeast.

The End of Drum-Time by Hanna Pylvainen
In 1851, at a remote village in the Scandinavian tundra, a Lutheran minister known as Mad Lasse tries in vain to convert the native Sámi reindeer herders to his faith. But when one of the most respected herders has a dramatic awakening and dedicates his life to the church, his impetuous son, Ivvár, is left to guard their diminishing herd alone. 

Blackouts by Justin Torres
Out in the desert in a place called the Palace, a young man tends to a dying soul, someone he once knew briefly but who has haunted the edges of his life: Juan Gay. Playful raconteur, child lost and found and lost, guardian of the institutionalized, Juan has a project to pass along, one built around a true artifact of a book and its devastating history. 

2023 Nonfiction Finalists

The Rediscovery of America by Ned Blackhawk
The most enduring feature of U.S. history is the presence of Native Americans, yet most histories focus on Europeans and their descendants. This long practice of ignoring Indigenous history is changing, however, with a new generation of scholars insists that any full American history address the struggle, survival, and resurgence of American Indian nations.

Liliana’s Invincible Summer by Cristina Rivera Garza
“In this gut-wrenching blend of memoir and reportage, Rivera Garza (No One Will See Me Cry), a Hispanic studies professor at the University of Houston, investigates her younger sister Liliana’s 1990 murder by an abusive ex-boyfriend, who remains at large.” (Publisher’s Weekly)

Ordinary Notes by Christina Sharpe
Told through a series of 248 notes, this volume explores profound questions about loss and the shapes of Black life that emerge in the wake of it, touching upon such themes as language, beauty, memory, history and literature.

We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I by Raja Shehadeh
A subtle psychological portrait of the author’s relationship with his father during the twentieth-century battle for Palestinian human rights.

Fire Weather by John Vaillant
In May 2016, the city of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, burned to the ground, forcing 88,000 people to flee their homes. It was the largest evacuation ever of a city in the face of a forest fire, raising the curtain on a new age of increasingly destructive wildfires. This book is a suspenseful account of one of North America’s most devastating forest fires–and a stark exploration of our dawning era of climate catastrophes.

2023 Poetry Finalists

How to Communicate by John Lee Clark
from unincorporated territory [amot] by Craig antos Perez
suddenly we by Evie Shockley
Tripas by Brandon Som
From From by Monica Youn

2023 Translated Literature

Cursed Bunny by Bora Chng, Anton Hur
Beyond the Door of No Return by David Diop, Sam Taylor
The Words That Remain by Stenio Gardel, Bruna Dantas Lobato
Abyss by Pilar Quintana, Lisa Dillman
On a Woman’s Madness by Astrid Roemer, Lucy Scott

2023 Young People’s Literature

Gather by Kenneth M. Cadow
Huda F Cares? by Huda Fahmy
Big by Vashti Harrison
The Lost Year by Katherine Marsh
A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat

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 in October. A winner in each category will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on November 15, 2023.

Tidelines Editors

(Image credit: National Book Award, CMPL)