2017 National Book Award Winners Announced

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    BookPeople CEO and owner Steve Bercu and Annie Philbrick, owner of Bank Square Books and Savoy Bookshop & Cafe, at the awards ceremony.
    BookPeople CEO and owner Steve Bercu and Annie Philbrick, owner of Bank Square Books and Savoy Bookshop & Café, at the awards ceremony.

    The 2017 National Book Awards for fiction, nonfiction, young people’s literature, and poetry were announced at a ceremony and benefit dinner on Wednesday, November 15, in New York City.The National Book Foundation (NBF) live-streamed the evening’s ceremony, hosted by actress and activist Cynthia Nixon at Cipriani, on Facebook and the NBF website. The entire ceremony is currently available to watch online.

    A group of judges, consisting of authors, critics, librarians, and booksellers, announced the list of five finalists per category on October 4, and longlists were announced in September. This year, three owners of ABA member bookstores served on the judging panel: for fiction, Annie Philbrick, owner of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Connecticut, and Savoy Bookshop & Café in Westerly, Rhode Island; for nonfiction, Steve Bercu, CEO and owner of BookPeople in Austin, Texas; and for young peoples literature, Suzanna Hermans, co-owner of Oblong Books & Music, with locations in Rhinebeck and Millerton, New York.

    2017 NBA winners book coversThe winners of the 68th annual awards are:

    Fiction: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner)

    Nonfiction: The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen (Riverhead)

    Young People’s Literature: Far From the Tree by Robin Benway (HarperTeen)

    Poetry: Half-light: Collected Poems 1965–2016 by Frank Bidart (FSG)

    2017 National Book Award winners Robin Benway, Masha Gessen, Jesmyn Ward, and Frank Bidart
    2017 National Book Award winners Robin Benway, Masha Gessen, Jesmyn Ward, and Frank Bidart (photo courtesy of National Book Foundation Facebook page)

    This year, winners in three of the four categories — fiction, nonfiction, and young people’s literature — were women. This is Ward’s second National Book Award; she won the fiction award in 2011 for Salvage the Bones (Bloomsbury USA), which was a September 2011 Indie Next List pick. Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing was also a September 2017 Indie Next List pick.

    Publishers submitted 1,529 books for this year’s awards: 394 in fiction, 553 in nonfiction, 337 in young people’s literature, and 245 in poetry. To be eligible for a 2017 National Book Award, a book must have been written by a U.S. citizen and published in the United States between December 1, 2016, and November 30, 2017. Two other awards were presented at the ceremony attended by close to 800 guests: the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, which was presented by actress Anne Hathaway to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx, and the NBF’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, which was presented by former President Bill Clinton to Richard Robinson, president and CEO of Scholastic.

    Following Wednesday’s ceremony, the National Book Foundation flew 27 of the authors honored by this year’s awards to Florida for Miami Book Fair International, where they participated in a series of panels on Friday, November 17, and Saturday, November 18.