The 2018 National Book Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Young People’s Literature, Poetry, and Translated Literature were announced at a ceremony and benefit dinner on Wednesday, November 14, in New York City. The National Book Foundation (NBF) live-streamed the evening’s ceremony, hosted by actor and author Nick Offerman at Cipriani, on Facebook and the NBF website. The entire ceremony is currently available to watch online.
A group of judges, consisting of authors, critics, librarians, and booksellers, announced the list of five finalists per category on October 10, and longlists were announced in September. This year’s judging panel included four independent booksellers: Rachel Cass, head buyer at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Massachusetts, served on the Nonfiction panel; Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas, on the Young People’s Literature panel; Stephen Sparks, co-owner of Point Reyes Books in Point Reyes Station, California, on the Poetry panel; and Karen Maeda Allman, author events co-coordinator at the Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, on the Translated Literature panel.
The winners of the 69th annual awards are:
- Fiction: The Friend by Sigrid Nunez (Riverhead Books)
- Nonfiction: The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke by Jeffrey C. Stewart (Oxford University Press)
- Young People’s Literature: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperTeen)
- Poetry: Indecency by Justin Phillip Reed (Coffee House Press)
- Translated Literature: The Emissary by Yoko Tawada (trans. Margaret Mitsutani) (New Directions Publishing)
This year, publishers submitted 1,637 books for the awards: 368 in Fiction, 546 in Nonfiction, 325 in Young People’s Literature, 256 in Poetry, and 142 in Translated Literature. To be eligible for the 2018 Awards, books must be published in the United States between December 1, 2017, and November 30, 2018, and be written by a U.S. citizen.
Notably, 2018 is the inaugural year for the National Book Foundation’s Translated Literature Award; translated literature has not been formally recognized by the National Book Foundation’s awards program since the 1980s. In addition, the winning book in the Young People’s Literature category, The Poet X, was a Spring 2018 Kids’ Indie Next List pick and Acevedo’s debut novel.
Two other awards were presented at the ceremony: the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, which was presented to iconic Chilean American novelist Isabel Allende, and the NBF’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, which was presented to Doron Weber, vice president of programs and program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.