EW favorites Susan Choi and Sarah M. Broom are among this year's big winners.

By David Canfield
November 20, 2019 at 10:30 PM EST
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Henry Holt and Co.; Grove Press

The biggest awards in American books for 2019 have been decided.

On Wednesday night in New York City, recipients of this year’s five prestigious National Book Awards were named, in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Young People’s Literature, Translated Literature, and Poetry.

In Fiction, Susan Choi was considered the frontrunner for her provocative, risky novel set at a performing arts high school, Trust Exercise, and ultimately prevailed. She wins on her first NBA nomination; she’s a previous finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and generated significant attention and praise for this latest effort.

EW called Trust Exercise “a gonzo literary performance one could mistake for a magic trick, duping its readers with glee before leaving them impossibly moved,” in an A- review, back in the spring when it published.

“This book is collaboration more so than any other book I’ve written,” Choi said at the National Book Awards upon accepting her award, before thanking her publishing team. “Given what we’re all facing today, I find it an astonishing privilege what I get to do every day. I get to lead a life centered on books and bring other people into that world.”

In Nonfiction, Sarah M. Broom triumphed with her debut book, The Yellow House, a richly detailed memoir of her family’s history in New Orleans East, pre- and post-Hurricane Katrina. She beat out such oft-published authors as Carolyn Forché (What You Have Heard Is True) and David Treuer (The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee). Broom appeared on EW’s Hot Summer Debut Authors roundtable for The Yellow House, saying, “The entire act of being the baby child of 12 and telling this story felt like a major transgression. It took me a really long time to give myself permission to write the story.”

Other winners Wednesday night included Martin W. Sandler (1919 The Year That Changed America) for Young People’s Literature; Arthur Sze (Sight Lines) for Poetry; and László Krasznahorkai and his book Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming’s translator, Ottilie Mulzet, for Translated Literature.

See the full list below.

FICTION

NONFICTION

POETRY

TRANSLATED LITERATURE

  • Khaled Khalifa, Death Is Hard Work
    Translated from the Arabic by Leri Price
    Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan Publishers
  • WINNER: László Krasznahorkai, Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming
    Translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet
    New Directions
  • Scholastique Mukasonga, The Barefoot Woman
    Translated from the French by Jordan Stump
    Archipelago Books
  • Yoko Ogawa, The Memory Police
    Translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder
    Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House
  • Pajtim Statovci, Crossing
    Translated from the Finnish by David Hackston
    Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE

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