The 71st Annual National Book Awards The 71st Annual National Book Awards

Made possible with support from NBF sponsors:

Made possible with support from NBF sponsors Made possible with support from NBF sponsors


Program cover, click for ceremony schedule
Ceremony Schedule PDF

The Host

Jason Reynolds photograph by Jati Lindsay
© Jati Lindsay

Jason Reynolds is an award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author. Jason’s many books include Miles Morales: Spider Man, the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), Long Way Down, which received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Coretta Scott King Honor, and Look Both Ways, which was a National Book Award Finalist. His latest book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You is a collaboration with Ibram X. Kendi. Recently named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jason has appeared on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and CBS This Morning. He is on faculty at Lesley University’s Writing for Young People MFA Program. You can find his ramblings at

Lifetime achievement

Jason Reynolds photograph by Jati Lindsay
© Marcia Wilson

Walter Mosley will be recognized with the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, presented by Edwidge Danticat

Jason Reynolds photograph by Jati Lindsay
© Beowulf Sheehan

Carolyn Reidy will posthumously receive the Foundation’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.

Winners & Finalists

Young People’s Literature

Judges for Young People’s Literature
  • Randy Ribay

    Randy Ribay was born in the Philippines and raised in the Midwest. He is the author of After the Shot Drops and An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes. He earned his BA in English Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his Master’s Degree in Language and Literacy from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

  • Neal Shusterman

    Neal Shusterman is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of Bruiser, which was a Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) choice, a YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults pick, and was on twelve state lists; The Schwa Was Here; and the UnWind series, among many other books. He lives in California with his four children.

  • Ebony Elizabeth Thomas

    Ebony Elizabeth Thomas is Associate Professor in the Literacy, Culture, and International Educational Division at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. A former Detroit Public Schools teacher and National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, she is an expert on diversity and representation in children’s literature, youth media, and fan culture. Her most recent book is The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games. (Photo credit: Stuart Greenberg)

  • Joan Trygg, Chair

    Joan Trygg is general manager at Red Balloon Bookshop in Saint Paul, where she has been since 2004. She has been a bookseller for twenty-eight years. She is a creative nonfiction writer and has an MFA from Hamline University.

  • Colleen AF Venable

    Colleen AF Venable is an author, designer, and maker. Her graphic novel series Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye (illustrated by Stephanie Yue) was nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Publication for Kids.

Translated Literature

Judges for Translated Literature
  • Heather Cleary

    Heather Cleary’s translations include Sergio Chejfec’s The Planets and The Dark, both nominated for national awards, and a selection of Oliverio Girondo’s poetry.

  • John Darnielle

    John Darnielle is a writer, composer, guitarist, and vocalist for the band the Mountain Goats. The author of Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality, Darnielle lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife and son.

  • Anne Ishii

    Anne Ishii is a writer, editor and translator, who for the past ten years has worked specifically to achieve visibility and recognition for art and artists that touches on issues of gender and sexuality in the Asian diaspora. In her quest to platform more and better iterations of work from the API diaspora, Anne has worked in publishing and advertising, venture consulting and content strategy, and she is currently the Executive Director of Asian Arts Initiative, a multi-disciplinary community arts center in Philadelphia that engages people of all ages and backgrounds to create and present art that addresses Asian American experience and effects positive change in a broad range of communities and in its immediate neighborhood of Chinatown North. (Photo credit: Lucas Michael)

  • Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson is the owner of East Bay Booksellers in Oakland, California. He has been a judge for the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses Firestarter Award for Fiction and the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Award for Poetry. He has a PhD in Literature, Theology and the Arts from the University of Glasgow.

  • Dinaw Mengestu

    Dinaw Mengestu is the author of three novels, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (2007), How to Read the Air (2010), and All Our Names (2015).


Judges for Poetry
  • Rigoberto González

    Rigoberto González is the author of 17 books of poetry and prose. His awards include the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, a Lambda Literary Award, the Poetry Center Book Award, and Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and USA Rolón fellowships. He is currently director of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey. (Photo credit: Rigoberto González)

  • John Hennessy

    John Hennessy is the author of two poetry collections, Bridge and Tunnel and Coney Island Pilgrims, and his poems appear in The Believer, Best American Poetry, Harvard Review, The New Republic, Poetry, The Poetry Review (UK), Poetry Ireland Review, and other journals and anthologies. He is the co-translator, with Ostap Kin, of A New Orthography, selected poems by Serhiy Zhadan, forthcoming in 2020; Hennessy and Kin won the John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize for Translation from Poetry magazine for work included in this book. A former Amy Clampitt Resident Fellow, Hennessy is the poetry editor of The Common and director of undergraduate creative writing at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. (Photo credit: Anton Kisselgoff)

  • Layli Long Soldier

    Layli Long Soldier holds a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA from Bard College. She has served as a contributing editor of Drunken Boat. Her poems have appeared in The American PoetThe American ReaderThe Kenyon Review Online, and other publications.

  • Diana Khoi Nguyen

    Diana Khoi Nguyen was born in Los Angeles, and is a poet and multimedia artist whose work has appeared widely in literary journals such as Poetry, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, PEN America, and The Iowa Review.

  • Elizabeth Willis

    Elizabeth Willis is the author of six collections of poetry, most recently Alive: New and Selected Poems, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Other books include Address, recipient of the PEN New England/L.L. Winship Prize for Poetry, Meteoric FlowersTurneresque, and The Human Abstract, a National Poetry Series selection. A Guggenheim fellow in poetry, Willis currently teaches at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. (Photo credit: Mary Lou Prince)


Judges for Nonfiction
  • James Goodman

    James Goodman is the author of essays, short stories, book reviews, letters, and three books, Stories of ScottsboroBlackout, and But Where Is the Lamb? He is a former Guggenheim Fellow and Stories of Scottsboro was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is a Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University, Newark, where he teaches close reading, critical thinking, and creative writing in the history department and in the MFA program in creative writing.

  • Yunte Huang

    A Guggenheim Fellow and a professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Yunte Huang is the author of Charlie Chan, which won the Edgar Award and was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. His most recent book, Inseparable was also a finalist for the NBCC award and was named Best Book of the Year by the New York Times, NPR, and Newsweek. He has published articles in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Daily Beast, and others, and has been featured on NPR, CBS, C-SPAN, and others.

  • Hannah Oliver Depp

    Hannah Oliver Depp is the owner of Loyalty Bookstores in Petworth, DC and Silver Spring, MD. Loyalty serves all readers as an intersectional feminist bookstore and programming space. She holds a Masters in English from American University. Oliver Depp is a founding member of the American Booksellers Association’s Committee on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and serves on the boards of, An Open Book Foundation, and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association.

  • David Treuer

    David Treuer is Ojibwe from the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. The author of four previous novels, most recently Prudence, and two books of nonfiction, he has also written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Esquire, Slate, and The Washington Post, among others.

  • Terry Tempest Williams, Chair

    Terry Tempest Williams is the author of sixteen books, including the environmental literature classic, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place; The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks, a New York Times bestseller; and her latest book, Erosion: Essays of Undoing. She is a recipient of a Lannan Literary Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship in creative nonfiction. In 2019, Terry Tempest Williams was given The Robert Kirsch Award, a lifetime achievement prize given to a writer with a substantial contribution to the American West. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is currently writer-in-residence at the Harvard Divinity School. She divides her time between the red rock desert of Utah and Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Judges for Fiction
  • Roxane Gay, Chair

    Roxane Gay’s writing appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2014Best American Short Stories 2012Best Sex Writing 2012A Public SpaceMcSweeney’sTin HouseOxford AmericanAmerican Short FictionVirginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. She is the author of the books AyitiAn Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Bad Feminist, the nationally bestselling Difficult Women and the New York Times bestselling Hunger. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. She has several books forthcoming and is also at work on television and film projects.

  • Cristina Henríquez

    Cristina Henríquez is the author of the novels The Book of Unknown Americans and The World in Half and of the short story collection Come Together, Fall Apart. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, The AtlanticThe Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times Magazine.

  • Laird Hunt

    Laird Hunt is the author of seven novels, with an eighth, Zorrie, forthcoming from Bloomsbury USA in early 2021. He is the winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction, the Grand Prix de Littérature Américaine, The Bridge/Il Ponte Book Award, and was a finalist for both the PEN/Faulkner and the Prix Femina Étranger. A former United Nations press officer, he now lives in Providence where he teaches in Brown University’s Literary Arts Program.

  • Rebecca Makkai

    Rebecca Makkai latest novel, The Great Believers, was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; it was the winner of the ALA Carnegie Medal, the Stonewall Book Award, and the LA Times Book Prize; and it was one of the New York Times Ten Best Books of 2018. Her other books are the novels The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House, and the collection Music for Wartime -- four stories from which appeared in The Best American Short Stories. Rebecca is on the MFA faculties of Sierra Nevada College and Northwestern University. She is Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago.

  • Keaton Patterson

    A lifelong Texan, Keaton Patterson is the lead buyer for Brazos Bookstore in Houston. He holds a MA in American Literature and lives with his wife and son in Pearland.




Baker & Taylor, HarperCollins, the Lynton Family Foundation, Macmillan Publishers, Wiley

Nonprofit/Indie Table Hosts:

Arcadia Publishing, Grove Atlantic, Graywolf Press, W. W. Norton & Company

And Contributions From:

Janklow & Nesbit, the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Foundation