National Book Awards 2023 longlists: books leave lasting impression

National Book Awards 2023 longlists: books leave lasting impression

by Suswati Basu
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Anticipation mounts as the National Book Foundation reveals the longlists for the 2023 National Book Awards. These prestigious accolades, which encompass categories ranging from fiction and nonfiction to poetry, translated literature, and young people’s literature, shine a spotlight on exceptional literary works that have made a mark in the literary landscape this year.

With over 1,900 books submitted across these diverse categories, this year’s longlists are a testament to the incredible talent and creativity present in the world of publishing. The final winners will be unveiled during an eagerly awaited awards ceremony on November 15th, but until then, let’s delve into the longlisted titles and the remarkable authors who penned them.


The Fiction category showcases a blend of powerful narratives and storytelling finesse. From Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s thought-provoking “Chain-Gang All-Stars” to LaToya Watkins’ poignant “Holler, Child,” these works promise to transport readers to compelling and often thought-provoking worlds. Each author’s unique voice and perspective ensure this category’s longlist is a treasure trove of literary gems.

In two compelling narratives, the profound impact of storytelling on identity, history, and self-discovery is explored. Justin Torres’ “Blackouts” follows an unnamed narrator tasked with continuing his dying mentor’s life’s work, while Eliot Duncan’s semi-autobiographical “Ponyboy” traces a trans-masculine journey from Paris to Berlin, navigating complex relationships.

Read: Booker Prize 2023 longlist: 13 fresh books on our startling reality

Additionally, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s dystopian “Chain-Gang All-Stars” delves into a chilling for-profit prison system, and Paul Harding’s “This Other Eden” uncovers the legacy of a racially integrated fishing community on Malaga Island. Amid this year’s longlist, we find stories that challenge power dynamics, intertwine faith and culture, and honour the voices of marginalised women.


Nonfiction aficionados will be spoiled for choice with this year’s longlist. From Ned Blackhawk’s exploration of Native American history in “The Rediscovery of America” to Kidada E. Williams’ examination of the Reconstruction era in “I Saw Death Coming,” these titles offer a glimpse into the rich tapestry of human experiences, both past and present.


Poetry enthusiasts will find themselves captivated by the verses within this year’s longlist. With collections like John Lee Clark’s “How to Communicate” and Monica Youn’s “From From,” readers can expect to embark on journeys of introspection, emotion, and linguistic beauty.

Translated Literature

In a world increasingly connected through translation, the Translated Literature category celebrates the art of bridging cultures and languages. Works like “Cursed Bunny” by Bora Chung and “No One Prayed Over Their Graves” by Khaled Khalifa, translated into English, offer readers the opportunity to explore foreign lands and perspectives.

  • The Devil of the Provinces by Juan Cárdenas and translated from the Spanish by Lizzie Davis (Coffee House)
  • Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung and translated from the Korean by Anton Hur (Algonquin)
  • Beyond the Door of No Return by David Diop and translated from the French by Sam Taylor (FSG)
  • Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck and translated from the German by Michael Hofmann (New Directions)
  • The Words That Remain by Stênio Gardel and translated from the Portuguese by Bruna Dantas Lobato (New Vessel)
  • No One Prayed Over Their Graves by Khaled Khalifa and translated from the Arabic by Leri Price (FSG)
  • This Is Not Miami by Fernanda Melchor and translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes (New Directions)
  • Abyss by Pilar Quintana and translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman (World Editions)
  • On a Woman’s Madness by Astrid Roemer and tanslated from the Dutch by Lucy Scott (Two Lines)
  • The Most Secret Memory of Men by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr and translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud (Other Press)

Young People’s Literature

The Young People’s Literature category provides a gateway to captivating stories for readers of all ages. From the heartwarming “Big” by Vashti Harrison to the historical insight of “The Lost Year” by Katherine Marsh, these books promise to ignite young imaginations and perhaps even leave lasting impressions.

The longlist announcements are just the beginning of the excitement. In the coming weeks, we will eagerly await the revelation of the finalists in each category, set to be named on October 3. These finalists will vie for the coveted 2023 National Book Awards, and the literary world will be watching with bated breath.

Behind the scenes, diligent judges have been meticulously reviewing the submissions to bring us these longlists. Their expertise and dedication ensure that only the most exceptional works make it to the next stage of consideration.

Drew Barrymore controversy

In response to the resurgence of her talk show “The Drew Barrymore Show” amidst ongoing Hollywood strikes, the 2023 National Book Awards has withdrawn its invitation for Drew Barrymore to host its upcoming annual award ceremony.

In a statement to social media, the National Book Foundation wrote “The National Book Awards is an evening dedicated to celebrating the power of literature, and the incomparable contributions of writers to our culture. In light of the announcement that ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’ will resume production, the National Book Foundation has rescinded Ms. Barrymore’s invitation to host the 74th National Book Awards Ceremony.”

As the literary community eagerly anticipates the awards ceremony, one thing is abundantly clear: the 2023 National Book Awards longlists are a testament to the vibrant and diverse world of literature. These works, authored by a range of voices, offer readers an opportunity to explore, reflect, and connect with the stories that define our world. So, whether you’re a seasoned bookworm or a casual reader, be sure to explore these longlisted titles and embark on literary journeys that promise to be nothing short of extraordinary.

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