Home Book Award The 2021 National Book Awards Long List: Nonfiction

The 2021 National Book Awards Long List: Nonfiction


This week, The New Yorker will announce the long lists for the 2021 National Book Awards. So far, we have presented the lists for Children’s Literature, Translated Literature and Poetry. Come back tomorrow morning for Fiction.

Two titles on this year’s long list for the National Book Award for Nonfiction observe the cultural industry churn across American history. The New Yorker “The Free World” by writer Louis Menand, taken from this magazine, brings together personalities (Elvis, Norman Mailer), coteries (Beats, New Critics) and institutions (Black Mountain College, the federal government) who helped the United States become an exporter of culture during the Cold War. Hanif Abdurraqib’s “A Little Devil in America” ​​is a lyrical celebration of black artists, from Merry Clayton to Dave Chappelle, and a scathing critique of how black expression is exploited.

The making of national narratives, especially on the theme of race, is a common theme among the award nominees. In “The Ground Breaking,” Scott Ellsworth argues that the Tulsa Race Massacre has been deliberately erased from the historical record and offers a carefully considered corrective. Deborah Willis, author of “The Black Civil War Soldier,” compiles photographs, letters and personal documents to highlight the little-known experiences of African Americans in the conflict. And “How the Word Is Passed,” by Clint Smith, covers nine sites, such as Angola Prison in Louisiana, Monticello and Lower Manhattan, that shed light on the history of slavery. The full list is below.

Hanif Abdurraqib, “A Little Devil in America: Black Performance Praise Notes
Random House / Random House Penguin

Lucas bessire, “Running out: in search of water on the high plains
Princeton University Press

Grace M. Cho, “It tastes like war: a memory
Feminist press at the City University of New York

Scott Ellsworth, “The inauguration: an American city and its quest for justice
Dutton / Random House Penguin

Nicole eustache, “Covered by Night: A Tale of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America
Liveright / WW Norton & Company

Heather McGhee, “Our sum: what racism costs everyone and how we can thrive together
One World / Random Penguin House

Louis menand, “The Free World: Art and Thought in the Cold War
Farrar, Straus & Giroux / Macmillan editions

Tiya miles, “All She Wore: Ashley’s Sack Journey, A Memory of the Black Family
Random House / Random House Penguin

Clint smith, “How the word got around: taking stock of the history of slavery across America
Little, Brown and Company / Hachette Book Group

Deborah Willis, “The Black Soldier of the Civil War: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship
New York University Press

This year’s category judges are Nell Painter, author of “The history of whitesAnd the Chairman of the Board of Directors of MacDowell; Eula Biss, author of four books, most recently “To have and to be had“; essayist Aaron John Curtis, whose work has been published in The Selkie and by Lominy Books; Kate Tuttle, Boston Editor-in-Chief World book section; and Jerald Walker, professor at Emerson College and author of “How to make a slave and other trials. “


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