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The 2022 National Book Award Finalists

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • October 06, 2022

The finalists for the 2022 National Book Awards (NBA) were announced earlier this week. First awarded in 1950, the prestigious award is bestowed on titles in five distinct categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translation, and young people’s literature. The 2021 winners are listed below:

This year's finalists include several debuts, as well as seasoned authors who have graced this list before. Learn more about the twenty-five books that made the cut.


The Rabbit Hutch
This debut by Tess Gunty centers on one week in the lives of a residents in a low-cost housing complex over the course of one week in a post-industrial Indiana town. The Guardian calls the book "Inventive, heartbreaking, and acutely funny."

The Birdcatcher
Previous NBA finalist Gayl Jones is back with a new novel about artists in exile. Set on the island of Ibiza, the story is a study in Black women's creative expression, and the intensity of their relationships.

The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories
Pen/Hemingway finalist Jamil Jan Kochai verges on both comedy and tragedy with this luminous collection of stories that move between modern-day Afghanistan and the Afghan diaspora in America.

All This Could Be Different
An electrifying debut from Sarah Thankam Mathews, this is the story of a young Indian immigrant in Milwaukee. Sneha navigates complicated relationships and career struggles as she works to build a life for herself.

The Town of Babylon
Alejandro Varela's contemporary debut centers on a gay Latinx professor returning to his suburban hometown in the wake of his husband's infidelity. As he hesitantly begins connecting with people from his past, old hurts resurface.


The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness
Renowned writer Meghan O'Rourke delivers a revelatory investigation into the elusive category of "invisible" illnesses including autoimmune diseases, post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome, and now long COVID.

South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation
Princeton professor and Alabama native Imani Perry offers a multifaceted portrait of the American South and shows that our understanding of its history and culture is the key to understanding the nation as a whole.

Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus
From esteemed science writer David Quammen comes the story of the worldwide quest to understand the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, trace its source, and create the vaccines to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir
Sometimes life is stranger than fiction. For Ingrid Rojas Contreras, magic runs in the family. The rising literary star traces her own otherworldly legacy as the daughter and granddaughter of healers with extraordinary powers.

His Name Is George Floyd: One Man's Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice
Prizewinning reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa reveal the systemic racism that shaped George Floyd's life and legacy and explore the way that one man's tragic experience brought about a global movement for change.


Look at this Blue
American Book Award winner Allison Adelle Hedge Coke's book-length poem centers on America's continuing violence toward Earth and its indigenous people. A hypnotic litany of loss that spirals into a powerful crescendo of resistance.

Punks: New & Selected Poems
This treasury of poetry by acclaimed author and MacArthur Fellow John Keene spans decades. The collection weaves together historic narratives of loss, lust, and love, expressing extraordinary range, vision, depth, and humanity.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Sharon Olds has been called a poet for these times. In her distinctive contemporary, long-flowing-sentence rhythm, she sings of her childhood, young womanhood, and maturity all mixed up together.

Best Barbarian
This musical and oracular collection from Roger Reeves roams across the literary and social landscape, expanding the tradition of poetry to extend from Gilgamesh and The Aeneid to Drake and Beyonce´.

The Rupture Tense
The new collection from award-winning Jenny Xie voices what remains irreducible in our complex entanglements with familial ties, language, capitalism, and the histories in which we find ourselves lodged.

Translated Literature

A New Name: Septology VI-VII
Written in melodious and hypnotic "slow prose" the final installment of Jon Fosse's Septology offers a transcendent exploration of the human condition. Translated from Norwegian by Damion Searls.

In four beautifully woven parts, Scholastique Mukasonga spins a recounting of the clash between ancient Rwandan beliefs and the missionaries determined to replace them with European Christianity. Translated from French by Mark Polizzotti.

Interweaving pop culture references and horror concepts drawn from inspirations like Melville and Lovecraft, Ecuadorian author Mónica Ojeda's English-language debut explores the fine line between fear and desire. Translated from Spanish by Sarah Booker.

Seven Empty Houses
A blazing new collection of horror stories that will make you feel like the house is collapsing in on you, from celebrated Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin. Translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell.

Scattered All Over the Earth
The first of a trilogy from Yoko Tawada. Set in a not-too-distant future, it is the story of a young Japanese woman trying living in Denmark since Japan has disappeared. Translated from Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani.

Young People's Literature

The Ogress and the Orphans
From Newbery-winner Kelly Barnhill comes a middle-grade fantasy about the power of generosity and love. A once-lovely town has fallen on hard times. When the people put their faith in a charismatic charlatan, things get even worse.

The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School
This sharply funny and moving YA debut by Sonora Reyes centers on a queer Mexican American girl navigating Catholic school, while falling in love and learning to celebrate her true self. Perfect for fans of Erika L. Sánchez, Leah Johnson, and Gabby Rivera.

Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice
In his memoir for young readers, Tommie Smith looks back on his rural Texas childhood and his stellar athletic career, culminating in his historic Olympic victory and his powerful podium protest. Cowritten with Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile.

All My Rage
From bestselling fantasy author Sabaa Tahir comes a brilliant, unforgettable, and heart-wrenching contemporary YA novel about two Pakistani-American teenagers dealing with family upheaval and social estrangement in a small California.

Maizy Chen's Last Chance
Twelve year-old Maizy discovers her family's Chinese restaurant is full of secrets in this irresistible story celebrating food, fortune, and family. Lisa Yee's middle-grade novel explores the ways people can surprise us, both in good and bad ways.

The winners, to be announced on November 16, will receive $10,000. In addition, the National Book Foundation bestows two lifetime achievement awards. This year, Maus author Art Spiegelman will receive the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. And the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community will go to Tracie D. Hall, the first African American woman to serve as the American Library Association's executive director.

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