National Book Awards 2021

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Enjoy the finalists and winners  of the National Book Awards for 2021, as voted by the National  Book Foundation. 


Finalist
Hanif Abdurraqib
Description: A Little Devil in America unravels all modes and methods of black performance, in this moment when black performers are coming to terms with their value, reception, and immense impact on America. Abdurraqib examines how black performance happens in specific moments in time and space--midcentury Paris, the moon, or a cramped living room in Columbus, Ohio. At the outset of this project, Abdurraqib became fascinated with clips of black minstrel entertainers like William Henry Lane, better known as Master Juba. Knowing there was something more complicated and deep-seated in the history and legacy of minstrelsy, Abdurraqib uncovered questions and tensions that help to reveal how black performance pervades all areas of American society. A Little Devil in America considers, critques, and praises performance in music, sports, writing, comedy, grief, games, and love.-- From statement provided by publisher.
Call Number: 791.089 Abd
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Hoa Nguyen
Description: "A new collection of poetry by Hoa Nguyen"-- Provided by publisher.
Call Number: 811 Ngu
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Winner
Tiya Miles
Description: "Sitting in the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture is a rough cotton bag, called "Ashley's Sack," embroidered with just a handful of words that evoke a sweeping family story of loss and of love passed down through generations. In 1850s South Carolina, just before nine-year-old Ashley was sold, her mother, Rose, gave her a sack filled with just a few things as a token of her love. Decades later, Ashley's granddaughter, Ruth, embroidered this history on the bag--including Rose's message that "It be filled with my Love always." Historian Tiya Miles carefully follows faint archival traces back to Charleston to find Rose in the kitchen where she may have packed the sack for Ashley. From Rose's last resourceful gift to her daughter, Miles then follows the paths their lives and the lives of so many like them took to write a unique, innovative history of the lived experience of slavery in the United States. The contents of the sack--a tattered dress, handfuls of pecans, a braid of hair, "my Love always"--speak volumes and open up a window on Rose and Ashley's world. As she follows Ashley's journey, Miles metaphorically "unpacks" the sack, deepening its emotional resonance and revealing the meanings and significance of everything it contained. These include the story of enslaved labor's role in the cotton trade and apparel crafts and the rougher cotton "negro cloth" that was left for enslaved people to wear; the role of the pecan in nutrition, survival, and southern culture; the significance of hair to Black women and of locks of hair in the nineteenth century; and an exploration of Black mothers' love and the place of emotion in history."-- Provided by publisher.
Call Number: 306.362 Mil
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Anthony Doerr
Description: In the besieged city of Constantinople in 1453, in a public library in Lakeport, Idaho, today, and on a spaceship bound for a distant exoplanet decades from now, an ancient text provides solace and the most profound human connection to characters in peril. They all learn the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to the paradise of Cloud Cuckoo Land, a better world. Twelve-year-old Anna lives in a convent where women toil all day embroidering the robes of priests. She learns to read from an old Greek tutor she encounters on her errands in the city. In an abandoned priory, she finds a stash of old books. One is Aethon's story, which she reads to her sister as the walls of Constantinople are bombarded by armies of Saracens. Anna escapes, carrying only a small sack with bread, salt fish-and the book. Outside the city walls, Anna meets Omeir, a village boy who was conscripted, along with his beloved pair of oxen, to fight in the Sultan's conquest. His oxen have died; he has deserted. In Lakeport, Idaho, in 2020, Seymour, a young activist bent on saving the earth, sits in the public library with two homemade bombs in pressure cookers--another siege. Upstairs, eighty-five-year old Zeno, a former prisoner-of-war, and an amateur translator, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon's adventures. Konstance, encased on a spaceship decades from now, has never lived on our beloved Earth. Alone in a vault with sacks of Nourish powder and access to 'all the information in the world,' she knows Aethon's story through her father. She has never set foot on our planet. Anna, Omeir, Seymour, Zeno, and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders who find resourcefulness and hope in the midst of gravest danger. Their lives are gloriously intertwined. Doerr’s dazzling imagination transports us to worlds so dramatic and immersive that we forget, for a time, our own.
Call Number: FIC Doe
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Nicole Eustace
Description: An immersive tale of the killing of a Native American man and its far-reaching consequences for Colonial America. In 1722, on the eve of a conference between the Five Nations of the Iroquois and British-American colonists, two colonial fur traders brutally attacked an Indigenous hunter in colonial Pennsylvania. The crime set the entire mid-Atlantic on edge, with many believing that war was imminent. Frantic efforts to resolve the case created a contest between Native American forms of justice, centered on community, forgiveness, and reparations, and an ideology of harsh reprisal, based on British law, that called for the killers' execution. Nicole Eustace reconstructs the crime and its aftermath, taking us into the worlds of Euro-Americans and Indigenous peoples in this formative period. Eustace's account provides a new understanding of Indigenous forms of justice, with lessons for our era.-- From statement provided by publisher.
Call Number: 364.1523 Eus
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Winner
Martain Espada
Description: "From the winner of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize come masterfully crafted narratives of protest, grief, and love. In this collection, Martain Espada bears witness to confrontation with anti-immigrant bigotry as a tenant lawyer years ago, and now sings the praises of Central American adolescents playing soccer in an internment camp founded on that same bigotry. He knows that times of hate also call for poems of love--even in the voice of a Galaapagos tortoise. Whether celebrating the visions of fallen dreamers and poets or condemning the devastation of Hurricane Maria and official negligence in his father's Puerto Rico, Espada invokes ferocious, incandescent spirits"-- Provided by publisher.
Call Number: 811 Esp
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Winner
Jason Mott
Description: In Jason Mott's Hell of a Book, a Black author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Hell of a Book and is the scaffolding of something much larger and urgent: since Mott's novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour. As these characters' stories build and build and converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art and money, it's also about the nation's reckoning with a tragic police shooting playing over and over again on the news. And with what it can mean to be Black in America.
Call Number: LP FIC Mot
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Winner
Malinda Lo
Description: "Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can't remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father--despite his hard-won citizenship--Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day"-- Provided by publisher.
Call Number: YA FIC Lo
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Amber McBride
Description: Moth, who lost her family in an accident, and Sani, who is battling ongoing depression, take a road trip that has them chasing ghosts and searching for ancestors, which helps them move forward in surprising, powerful and unforgettable ways.
Call Number: YA FIC Mcb
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Fei Ge, Canaan Morse
Description: "In 1898, China experienced one hundred days of utopia, after a cabal of reformist intellectuals persuaded the young emperor to enact sweeping changes intended to modernize the country and bring about the "Great Unity." Their movement ended in blood and the crowning of two more dictators, but not before it whetted an appetite for revolution all across the country - an appetite that would eventually consume millions of lives. One such life belongs to Xiumi, the young daughter of a wealthy landowner and former government official who goes insane over a painting, then mysteriously disappears. Days later, Xiumi's mother welcomes to the estate a young man who carries a grand but brutal vision in his heart and a gold cicada in his pocket. When his plans collapse, Xiumi inherits his vision, just as she herself begins fighting the Confucian social mores that view women as property. On her wedding day, she becomes a pawn in a series of violent transactions carried out by men who think they are building paradise; as each one fails, she attempts to repay them in kind by spearheading a movement of her own. Her campaign for change is always a fight to win control of her own body; and the cost of even that is nearly total."--Provided by publisher.
Call Number: FIC Ge
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Samar Yazbik, Leri Price
Description: Rima, a young girl from Damascus, longs to walk, to be free to follow the will of her feet, but instead is perpetually constrained. She finds refuge in a fantasy world full of colored crayons, secret planets, and The Little Prince, reciting passages of the Qur'an like a mantra as everything and everyone around her is blown to bits. Since Rima hardly ever speaks, people think she's crazy, but she is no fool--the madness is in the battered city around her. One day while taking a bus through Damascus, a soldier opens fire and her mother is killed. Rima, wounded, is taken to a military hospital before her brother leads her to the besieged area of Ghouta--where, between bombings, she writes her story.
Call Number: FIC Yaz
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Kekla Magoon
Description: In this history of the Black Panther Party, Kekla Magoon introduces readers to the Panthers' community activism, grounded in the concept of self-defense, which taught Black Americans how to protect and support themselves in a country that treated them like second-class citizens.-- From statement provided by publisher.
Call Number: YA 323.1196 Mag
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Lucas Bessire
Description: An ethnography of water conservation on the Great Plains, this book provides an account of High Plains aquifer decline through an exploration of the different ways in which heartland residents inhabit and understand the imminent depletion of groundwater. It offers a vividly sketched look into the lives and stories of this community, based on interviews with members of the community such as fellow farmers and state regulators, woven together with historical data, journalistic documentation, and Bessire's personal reflections of his family's lived experiences.-- From statement provided by publisher.
Call Number: 333.91 Bes
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Sho
Douglas Kearney
Description: "A new collection of poetry by Douglas Kearney"-- Provided by publisher.
Call Number: 811 Kea
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Shing Yin Khor
Description: "Aware of the racial tumult in the years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Mei tries to remain blissfully focused on her job, her close friendship with the camp foreman's daughter, and telling stories about Paul Bunyan--reinvented as Po Pan Yin (Auntie Po), an elderly Chinese matriarch"-- Provided by publisher
Call Number: J FIC Kho
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Robert Jones
Description: "A singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence"-- Provided by publisher.
Call Number: FIC Jon
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Jackie Wang, Kalan Sherrard
Description: These poems read like dispatches from the dream world, with Jackie Wang acting as our trusted comrade reporting across time and space. By sharing her personal index of dreams with its scenes of solidarity and resilience, interpersonal conflict and outlaw jouissance, Wang embodies historical trauma and communal memory. Here, the all-too-familiar interplay between crisis and resistance becomes first distorted, then clarified and refreshed. With a light touch and invigorating sense of humor, Wang illustrates the social dimension of dreams and their ability to inform and reshape the dreamer's waking world with renewed energy and insight.--From publisher's description.
Call Number: 811 Wan
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Nona Fernández, Natasha Wimmer
Description: "It's 1984 in Chile, in the middle of the Pinochet dictatorship. A member of the secret police walks into the office of a dissident magazine and finds a reporter, who records his testimony. The narrator of Nona Fernández's mesmerizing and terrifying novel The Twilight Zone is a child when she first sees this man's face on the magazine's cover with the words "I Tortured People." His complicity in the worst crimes of the regime and his commitment to speaking about them haunt the narrator into her adulthood and career as a writer and documentarian. Like a secret service agent from the future, through extraordinary feats of the imagination, Fernández follows the "man who tortured people" to places that archives can't reach, into the sinister twilight zone of history where morning routines, a game of chess, Yuri Gagarin, and the eponymous TV show of the novel's title coexist with the brutal yet commonplace machinations of the regime."--Amazon.
Call Number: FIC Fer
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Kyle Lukoff
Description: It's the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug's best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn't particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. Besides, there's something more important to worry about: a ghost is haunting Bug's eerie old house in rural Vermont...and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they're trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light--Bug is transgender.
Call Number: J FIC Luk
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Desiree C. Bailey, Carl Phillips
Description: This is a lyric quest for belonging and freedom, weaving political resistance, Caribbean folklore, immigration and the realities of Black life in America. Desiree C. Bailey begins by reworking the epic in an oceanic narrative of bondage and liberation in the midst of the Haitian Revolution. The poems move into the contemporary Black diaspora, probing the mythologies of home, belief, nation and womanhood.
Call Number: 811 Bai
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Benjamín Labatut, Adrian Nathan West
Description: "A fictional examination of the lives of real-life scientists and thinkers whose discoveries resulted in moral consequences beyond their imagining. When We Cease to Understand the World is a book about the complicated links between scientific and mathematical discovery, madness, and destruction. Fritz Haber, Alexander Grothendieck, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrodinger: these are some of luminaries into whose troubled lives Labatut's book thrusts the reader, showing us how they grappled with the most profound questions of existence. They have strokes of unparalleled genius, alienate friends and lovers, descend into isolation and insanity. Some of their discoveries reshape human life to the better; others pave the way to chaos and unimaginable suffering. The lines are never clear. At a breakneck pace and with a wealth of disturbing detail, Benjamin Labatut uses the imaginative resources of fiction to tell the stories of scientists and mathematicians who expanded our notions of the possible" -- Provided by publisher.
Call Number: FIC Lab
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Winner
Élisa Shua Dusapin, Aneesa Abbas Higgins
Description: It's winter in Sokcho, a tourist town on the border between South and North Korea. The cold slows everything down. Bodies are red and raw, the fish turn venomous, beyond the beach guns point out from the North's watchtowers. A young French Korean woman works as a receptionist in a tired guesthouse. One evening, an unexpected guest arrives: a French cartoonist determined to find inspiration in this desolate landscape. The two form an uneasy relationship. When she agrees to accompany him on trips to discover an "authentic" Korea, they visit snowy mountaintops and dramatic waterfalls, and cross into North Korea. But he takes no interest in the Sokcho she knows--the gaudy neon lights, the scars of war, the fish market where her mother works. As she's pulled into his vision and taken in by his drawings, she strikes upon a way to finally be seen.
Call Number: FIC Dus
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Finalist
Laird Hunt
Description: "As a girl, Zorrie Underwood's modest and hardscrabble home county was the only constant in her young life. After losing both her parents, Zorrie moved in with her aunt, whose own death orphaned Zorrie all over again, casting her off into the perilous realities and sublime landscapes of rural, Depression-era Indiana. Drifting west, Zorrie survived on odd jobs, sleeping in barns and under the stars, before finding a position at a radium processing plant. At the end of each day, the girls at her factory glowed from the radioactive material. But when Indiana calls Zorrie home, she finally finds the love and community that have eluded her in and around the small town of Hillisburg. And yet, even as she tries to build a new life, Zorrie discovers that her trials have only begun" --Amazon.
Call Number: FIC Hun
Format: Book
Date Added: Mar 9, 2022
Subscribe to New Best Fun List: National Book Awards 2021
A Little Devil In America : Notes In Praise Of Black Performance
Hanif Abdurraqib
791.089 Abd
Running Out : In Search Of Water On The High Plains
Lucas Bessire
333.91 Bes
A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure
Hoa Nguyen
811 Ngu
Sho
Douglas Kearney
811 Kea
All That She Carried : The Journey Of Ashley's Sack, A Black Family Keepsake
Tiya Miles
306.362 Mil
The Legend Of Auntie Po
Shing Yin Khor
J FIC Kho
Cloud Cuckoo Land : A Novel
Anthony Doerr
FIC Doe
The Prophets : A Novel
Robert Jones
FIC Jon
Covered With Night : A Story Of Murder And Indigenous Justice In Early America
Nicole Eustace
364.1523 Eus
The Sunflower Cast A Spell To Save Us From The Void
Jackie Wang, Kalan Sherrard
811 Wan
Floaters : Poems
Martain Espada
811 Esp
The Twilight Zone
Nona Fernández, Natasha Wimmer
FIC Fer
Hell Of A Book : Or, The Altogether Factual, Wholly Bona Fide Story Of A Big Dreams, Hard Luck, American-made Mad Kid
Jason Mott
LP FIC Mot
Too Bright To See
Kyle Lukoff
J FIC Luk
Last Night At The Telegraph Club
Malinda Lo
YA FIC Lo
What Noise Against The Cane
Desiree C. Bailey, Carl Phillips
811 Bai
Me (Moth)
Amber McBride
YA FIC Mcb
When We Cease To Understand The World
Benjamín Labatut, Adrian Nathan West
FIC Lab
Peach Blossom Paradise
Fei Ge, Canaan Morse
FIC Ge
Winter In Sokcho
Élisa Shua Dusapin, Aneesa Abbas Higgins
FIC Dus
Planet Of Clay
Samar Yazbik, Leri Price
FIC Yaz
Zorrie : A Novel
Laird Hunt
FIC Hun
Revolution In Our Time : The Black Panther Party's Promise To The People
Kekla Magoon
YA 323.1196 Mag