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National Book Award shortlist includes 'A Little Life,' 'Fates and Furies,' 'Fortune Smiles'

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Books award season is in full swing. Fresh off of Tuesday’s announcement that Jamaican author Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings won the Man Booker Prize, the National Book Awards shortlists have been announced, for fiction and nonfiction.

Whittled down from 10 contenders, the NBA fiction shortlist now comprises Hanya Yanagihara’s wrenching novel of friendship and childhood trauma A Little Life, Lauren Groff’s portrait of a marriage Fates and Furies, Angela Flournoy’s family saga The Turner House, Adam Johnson’s story collection Fortune Smiles, and Karen E. Bender’s story collection Refund. It’s interesting to note that three of these novels follow their characters across decades, while the other two work within the almost completely opposite medium of stories. Notably absent from the shortlist are Bill Clegg’s tragic novel Did You Ever Have A Family and T. Geronimo Johnson’s Welcome to Braggsville.

On the nonfiction side, finalists are frontrunner Ta-Nehisi Coates, recent recipient of a prestigious MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant for Between the World and Me, photographer Sally Mann’s memoir Hold Still, Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus, Carla Power’s If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran, and Tracy K. Smith’s Ordinary Light.

Head to NPR to see the finalists for poetry and young people’s literature.