Credit: Simon and Schuster; Algonquin Books; Viking

At the 2017 National Book Awards, Jesmyn Ward won her second prize in the Fiction category for Sing, Unburied, Sing and celebrated Russian journalist Masha Gessen took home the Nonfiction trophy.

The National Book Foundation convened Wednesday night to present its prestigious awards for the best in books for 2017. The finalists in the four main categories — Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature — had been previously announced, with shortlisted books including Jennifer Egan’s novel Manhattan Beach, Kevin Young’s prescient history of hoaxes Bunk, and Angie Thomas’ YA phenomenon The Hate U Give among the many high-profile titles to miss the cut.

Ward, who’d previously won the National Book Award for Salvage the Bones, competed in Fiction once again, opposite first-time contenders Elliot Ackerman, Min Jin Lee, Carmen Maria Machado, and Lisa Ko, the latter two of whom were included for their debuts. Over in Nonfiction, several books tackling the current political climate were cited as finalists, including Gessen’s The Future Is History and Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains.

The 2017 National Book Awards were hosted by Emmy- and Tony-winning actress Cynthia Nixon, and took place in New York. See the full list of winners below.


  • Elliot Ackerman, Dark at the Crossing
  • Lisa Ko, The Leavers
  • Min Jin Lee, Pachinko
  • Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties: Stories
  • WINNER: Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing


  • Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge
  • Frances FitzGerald, The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America
  • WINNER: Masha Gessen, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia
  • David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
  • Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America


  • WINNER: Frank Bidart, Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016
  • Leslie Harrison, The Book of Endings
  • Layli Long Soldier, WHEREAS
  • Shane McCrae, In the Language of My Captor
  • Danez Smith, Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems

Young People’s Literature

  • Elana K. Arnold, What Girls Are Made Of
  • WINNER: Robin Benway, Far from the Tree
  • Erika L. Sánchez, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
  • Rita Williams-Garcia, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground
  • Ibi Zoboi, American Street