The shortlists for the US National Book Awards 2020 was announced on October 6, 2020. Here are the African American nominees still in the running.

The US National Book Foundation presents the National Book Awards and two-lifetime achievement awards to authors every November. The awards are handed out in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature, and young people’s literature.

The longlisted nominees for 2020 were announced in September and the shortlist revealed on Tuesday with several African Americans still in the running. They were Deesha Philyaw in fiction, Les Payne and Tamara Payne and Jerald Walker in nonfiction, Tommye Blount in poetry, and Kacen Callender, Candice Iloh, as well as Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed in Young People’s literature. Below are the writers in their category in bold;


  • Rumaan Alam, Leave the World Behind, Ecco / HarperCollins Publishers
  • Lydia Millet, A Children’s Bible, W. Norton & Company
  • Deesha Philyaw, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, West Virginia University Press
  • Douglas Stuart, Shuggie Bain, Grove Press / Grove Atlantic
  • Charles Yu, Interior Chinatown, Pantheon Books / Penguin Random House


  • Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, The Undocumented Americans, One World / Penguin Random House
  • Les Payne and Tamara Payne, The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, Liveright / W. W. Norton & Company
  • Claudio Saunt, Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory W. Norton & Company
  • Jenn Shapland, My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, Tin House Books
  • Jerald Walker, How to Make a Slave and Other Essays, Mad Creek Books / The Ohio State University Press


  • Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, A Treatise on Stars, New Directions
  • Tommye Blount, Fantasia for the Man in Blue, Four Way Books
  • Don Mee Choi, DMZ Colony, Wave Books
  • Anthony Cody, Borderland Apocrypha, Omnidawn Publishing
  • Natalie Diaz, Postcolonial Love Poem, Graywolf Press

Young People’s

  • Kacen Callender, King and the Dragonflies, Scholastic Press / Scholastic Inc.
  • Traci Chee, We Are Not Free, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Candice Iloh, Every Body Looking, Dutton Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House
  • Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, When Stars Are Scattered, Dial Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House
  • Gavriel Savit, The Way Back Knopf Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House

The winners will be revealed at the National Book Awards ceremony and benefit dinner on November 18, 2020.