The National Book Critics’ Circle has announced its finalists for the best books of 2017, dividing them into six categories of five nominees each.
In the fiction field, the category is led by newly-minted National Book Award winner Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward, and EW’s best book of 2017, Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West. Rounding out the category are Alice McDermott’s The Ninth Hour, Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, and Joan Silber’s Improvement. Last year, Louise Erdrich won the big prize for LaRose.
Other notable finalists include Roxane Gay, cited in the Autobiography category for her harrowing memoir Hunger; Masha Gessen, who recently won the National Book Award for her acclaimed nonfiction book The Future Is History; and poet Kevin Young, nominated this time for his brilliant and prescient work of criticism, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News.
In addition, Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties has been named the recipient of the John Leonard Prize, which recognizes outstanding debuts in any genre.
Check out the full list of finalists below.
Mohsin Hamid, Exit West (Riverhead)
Alice McDermott, The Ninth Hour (FSG)
Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (Knopf)
Joan Silber, Improvement (Counterpoint)
Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing (Scribner)
Jack Davis, Gulf: The Making of An American Sea (Liveright/Norton)
Frances FitzGerald, The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America (Simon & Schuster)
Masha Gessen, The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia (Riverhead)
Kapka Kassabova, Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe (Graywolf)
Adam Rutherford, A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived (The Experiment)
Caroline Fraser, Prairie Fires: The Life and Times of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Henry Holt)
Edmund Gordon, The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography (Oxford)
Howard Markel, The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek (Pantheon)
William Taubman, Gorbachev: His Life and Times (Norton)
Kenneth Whyte, Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times (Knopf)
Thi Bui, The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir (Abrams)
Roxane Gay, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (Harper)
Henry Marsh, Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery (St. Martins)
Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, The Girl From the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia (Penguin)
Xioulu Guo, Nine Continents: A Memoir In and Out of China (Grove)
Nuar Alsadir, Fourth Person Singular (Oxford University Press)
James Longenbach, Earthling (Norton)
Layli Long Soldier, Whereas (Graywolf)
Frank Ormsby, The Darkness of Snow (Wake Forest University Press)
Ana Ristović, Directions for Use (Zephyr Press)
Carina Chocano, You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks, & Other Mixed Messages (Mariner)
Edwidge Danticat, The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story (Graywolf)
Camille Dungy, Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History (W.W. Norton)
Valeria Luiselli, Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions (Coffee House)
Kevin Young, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News (Graywolf)