The 25 finalists for this year’s award will be featured at the annual National Book Awards Finalist Reading, hosted by Amber Ruffin, on November 14 at NYU Skirball.
By Helena Olori
The New York Times has revealed the 25 finalists for the 2023 National Book Awards to contend for the prize in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature categories. Five finalists from each category were selected by the panel of judges from the longlist announced in September.
Notably, American writer of Ghanaian descent and New York Times bestselling author of the story collection, Friday Black, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, is listed among the finalists in the fiction category. His debut novel Chain-Gang All-Stars, published by Pantheon Books/Penguin Random House (2023), will contend for the prize alongside Aaliyah Bilal’s Temple Folk, Paul Harding’s This Other Eden, Hanna Pylväinen’s The End of Drum-Time, and Justin Torres’ Blackouts.
Chain-Gang All-Stars, a dystopian novel like Suzanne Collins’ renowned series, The Hunger Games, simulates a private for-profit prison system where prisoners compete for freedom in live-broadcast gladiator-style death matches. Described as an explosive, action-packed novel, the book is already a National Bestseller and was Read with Jenna’s Pick for May 2023.
Another remarkable finalist is Aaliyah Bilal’s debut short story collection, Temple Folk. The book, published by Simon & Schuster, “examines the diversity of the Black Muslim experience in America” as they navigate the complexities of race, religion, economics, politics, sexuality, and resisting societal expectations while confronting personal challenges.
The winners in each category for the 74th National Book Awards will be announced on November 15 at the invitation-only ceremony and benefit dinner at Cipriani Wall Street, featuring special guest Oprah Winfrey. The ceremony will be broadcast live on YouTube, Facebook, and the foundation’s website. The winners will take home a grand sum of $10,000, a bronze medal, and a statue, while finalists will receive $1,000 and a bronze medal.
Tickets for the in-person and live-streamed event can be purchased on NYU Skirball’s website.
See all 25 finalists here.