By David Canfield
September 14, 2018 at 10:36 AM EDT
Penguin (2); Algonquin Books

Publishing’s awards season has officially kicked off.

The longlists of 10 contenders have been announced for the 2018 National Book Awards, which encompasses five categories: Fiction; Nonfiction; Young People’s Literature; Poetry; and Translated Literature, a brand-new category.

In the Fiction category, several debuts were recognized, including There There‘s Tommy Orange, Heads of the Colored People‘s Nafissa Thompson-Spires, and Jamel Brinkley’s A Lucky Man. As for the commercial hits to land with the judging committee, Tommy Orange and Oprah’s Book Club pick Tayari Jones (An American Marriage) wrote breakout New York Times best-sellers. 2015 finalist Lauren Groff (The Fates and Furies) is also back in contention for her short story collection, Florida.

The nonfiction field is dominated by deeply reported titles, many of them politically-focused. Carol Anderson’s voter-suppression book One Person, No Vote and Rebecca Solnit’s essay collection on “American crises” Call Them by Their True Names are among those to make the top 10.

In the YA field, standouts include Elizabeth Acevedo’s poetry-novel hybrid The Poet X, which EW raved about earlier this year, and Tahereh Mafi’s A Very Large Expanse of Sea. In the newly-created Translated Literature, meanwhile, books to pay attention to include the International Booker Prize winner Flights (read our review) and the Jhumpa Lahiri-translated Italian novel Trick (read our interview).

See the complete longlists below. And get reading!


  • Jamel Brinkley, A Lucky Man
  • Jennifer Clement, Gun Love
  • Lauren Groff, Florida
  • Daniel Gumbiner, The Boatbuilder
  • Brandon Hobson, Where the Dead Sit Talking
  • Tayari Jones, An American Marriage
  • Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers
  • Sigrid Nunez, The Friend
  • Tommy Orange, There There
  • Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Heads of the Colored People


  • Carol Anderson, One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy
  • Colin G. Calloway, The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation
  • Steve Coll, Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Marwan Hisham and Molly Crabapple, Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War
  • Victoria Johnson, American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic
  • David Quammen, The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life
  • Sarah Smarsh, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth
  • Rebecca Solnit, Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays)
  • Jeffrey C. Stewart, The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke
  • Adam Winkler, We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights

Young People’s Literature

  • Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X
  • M. T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin, The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge
  • Bryan Bliss, We’ll Fly Away
  • Leslie Connor, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
  • Christopher Paul Curtis, The Journey of Little Charlie
  • Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Hey, Kiddo
  • Tahereh Mafi, A Very Large Expanse of Sea
  • Joy McCullough, Blood Water Paint
  • Elizabeth Partridge, Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam
  • Vesper Stamper, What the Night Sings

Translated Literature (new category)

  • Négar Djavadi, Disoriental
    Translated by Tina Kover
  • Roque Larraquy, Comemadre
    Translated by Heather Cleary
  • Dunya Mikhail, The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq
    Translated by Dunya Mikhail and Max Weiss
  • Perumal Murugan, One Part Woman
    Translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan
  • Hanne Ørstavik, Love
    Translated by Martin Aitken
  • Gunnhild Øyehaug, Wait, Blink: A Perfect Picture of Inner Life
    Translated by Kari Dickson
  • Domenico Starnone, Trick
    Translated by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Yoko Tawada, The Emissary
    Translated by Margaret Mitsutani
  • Olga Tokarczuk, Flights
    Translated by Jennifer Croft
  • Tatyana Tolstaya, Aetherial Worlds
    Translated by Anya Migdal


  • Rae Armantrout, Wobble
  • Jos Charles, feeld
  • Forrest Gander, Be With
  • Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin
  • J. Michael Martinez, Museum of the Americas
  • Diana Khoi Nguyen, Ghost Of
  • Justin Phillip Reed, Indecency
  • Raquel Salas Rivera, lo terciario / the tertiary
  • Natasha Trethewey, Monument: Poems New and Selected
  • Jenny Xie, Eye Level