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2016 National Book Award shortlist: Colson Whitehead, Congress member John Lewis, and more

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Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

The 2016 National Book Award nominations are in!

Presented every year by the National Book Foundation, the NBAs are designed to celebrate the best of American literature. They were established in 1950, and in the past they’ve recognized writers like William Carlos Williams, Ralph Ellison, and Marianne Moore.

This year’s nominees include some familiar faces, like Jacqueline Woodson, who won an NBA in 2014 for her children’s memoir in verse, Brown Girl Dreaming, and is nominated this year for her first adult novel in 20 years, Another Brooklyn.

And while most of the 2016 nominees haven’t won the NBA before, many are already well-laureled in the literary world. Rita Dove, nominated for her Collected Poems: 1974–2004, is a former US poet laureate. Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Pulitzer-winning novelist, is nominated for his nonfiction book Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War. And while it may not be an "official" prize, Oprah honored Colson Whitehead’s acclaimed Underground Railroad earlier this year when she chose it for her book club.

One nominee, however, is best known for his work in politics. Congress member and civil rights hero John Lewis is nominated for March: Book Three, the final volume in his graphic novel memoir series.

The full list of nominees is below. The winners will be announced on November 16.




Young People’s Literature