Colson Whitehead’s brutal narrative of a boys’ reform school, “The Nickel Boys,” and Marlon James’ fantasy epic “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” are among the works chosen by judges for the fiction longlist of the National Book Awards.
Others on the list of 10 include Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s acclaimed comic novel “Fleishman Is in Trouble” and the immigrant stories “The Other Americans,” by Laila Lalami, and “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous,” the first novel by the poet Ocean Vuong.
Friday’s announcement caps a week in which the National Book Foundation also unveiled longlists for nonfiction, translation, young people’s literature and poetry. The lists will be narrowed to five in each category on Oct. 8. Winners will be announced during a Nov. 20 dinner ceremony in New York City, when author Edmund White and the CEO of the American Booksellers Association, Oren Teicher, will receive honorary awards.
Based on a real Florida institution, Whitehead’s novel is his first since the acclaimed historical fantasy “The Underground Railroad,” which came out in 2016 and won the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. James is a native of Jamaica and is known for his Booker Prize-winning “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” centered on the attempted 1976 assassination of reggae great Bob Marley. He has said that “Black Leopard, Red Wolf” is the first of a planned trilogy.
The other books on the fiction longlist were Susan Choi’s “Trust Exercise,” Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s “Sabrina & Corina: Stories,” Kimberly King Parsons’s “Black Light: Stories,” Helen Phillips’ “The Need” and Julia Phillips’ “Disappearing Earth.”
This week’s longlists featured works ranging from Iliana Ragan’s memoir “Burn the Place” to books for young people by Kwame Alexander and Jason Reynolds. The lists also were notable for some of the books that didn’t make them, from Saeed Jones’ memoir “How We Fight for Our Lives” to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ novel “The Water Dancer.” Others omitted include Jacqueline Woodson’s novel “Red at the Bone,” Jia Tolentino’s essay collection “Trick Mirror” and Casey Cep’s investigative “Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee.”