23 National Book Award Finalists 2021

Every year, the National Book Foundation awards National Book Awards in the genres of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, young people's literature, and translated literature. This year's five finalists in each category were announced in October and the winners will be announced on Wednesday, November 17. Nearly 2,000 books were nominated by publishers for the prestigious prizes. Learn more about the awards here.

Read our interview with 2021 National Book Award fiction judge Margaret Wilkerson Sexton from our blog archives.

If you haven't already found your favorite book of the year, there's still time. Check out one of the finalists for a phenomenal read!


Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land Book eBook 

Lauren Groff, Matrix Book eBook

Laird Hunt, Zorrie Book eBook 

Robert Jones, Jr., The Prophets Book eBook 

Jason Mott, Hell of a Book Book


Hanif Abdurraqib, A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance Book eBook

Lucas Bessire, Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains

Grace M. Cho, Tastes Like War: A Memoir Book 

Nicole Eustace, Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America Book 

Tiya Miles, All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake Book 


Desiree C. Bailey, What Noise Against the Cane Book 

Martín Espada, Floaters Book 

Douglas Kearney, Sho Book 

Hoa Nguyen, A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure Book 

Jackie Wang, The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void Book 

Translated Literature 

Elisa Shua Dusapin, Winter in Sokcho
Translated from the French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins  Book

Ge Fei, Peach Blossom Paradise
Translated from the Chinese by Canaan Morse Book 

Nona Fernández, The Twilight Zone
Translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer Book 

Benjamín Labatut, When We Cease to Understand the World
Translated from the Spanish by Adrian Nathan West  Book eBook 

Samar Yazbek, Planet of Clay
Translated from the Arabic by Leri Price

Young People’s Literature 

Shing Yin Khor, The Legend of Auntie Po  Book eBook  

Malinda Lo, Last Night at the Telegraph Club Book eBook 

Kyle Lukoff, Too Bright to See Book eBook 

Kekla Magoon, Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People (Coming soon to QPL)

Amber McBride, Me (Moth) Book