NAACP Image Awards

The finalists for the NAACP Image Awards 2023 were announced on Thursday, January 12, 2023. Here are those in the literary categories.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States aimed at advancing justice for African Americans founded by a group including W. E. B. Du Bois, Mary White Ovington, Moorfield Storey, and Ida B. Wells in 1909. One of its most recognisable activities is its image awards where the highest achieving Black people are awarded in a variety of fields since 1967. Some of the winners in the literary categories in 2021 were Walter Mosley, Elijah Cummings, Les Payne, Tamara Payne, Honorée Jeffers, and Jacqueline Woodson. Some 2022 winners were Kiese Laymon, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Crystal Wilkinson, and Cicely Tyson.

The finalists for 2023 from the literary categories including fiction, nonfiction, poetry as well as work for children and youth/teens were revealed on Thursday and they are;


  •  Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction, Sheree Renée Thomas (Macmillan)
  • Light Skin Gone to Waste, Toni Ann Johnson (University of Georgia Press)
  • Take My Hand, Dolen Perkins-Valdez (Penguin Random House)
  • The Keeper, Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes (Abrams Books)
  • You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty, Akwaeke Emezi (Simon & Schuster)


  • Finding Me, Viola Davis (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America, Cody Keenan (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Requiem for the Massacre, RJ Young (Counterpoint)
  • Under the Skin, Linda Villarosa (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)
  • Who’s Black and Why? A Hidden Chapter from the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race, Henry Louis Gates, Andrew S. Curran (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press)

Debut Author

  • America Made Me a Black Man, Boyah Farah (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Illustrated Black History: Honoring the Iconic and the Unseen, George McCalman (HarperCollins)
  • Marriage Be Hard, Kevin Fredericks, Melissa Fredericks (Penguin Random House)
  • Truth’s Table: Black Women’s Musings on Life, Love, and Liberation, Ekemini Uwan, Christina Edmondson, Michelle Higgins (Penguin Randomhouse Convergent Imprint)
  • What the Fireflies Knew, Kai Harris (Penguin Random House)


  • A Way Out of No Way: A Memoir of Truth, Transformation, and the New American Story, Raphael G. Warnock (Penguin Random House)
  • Scenes from My Life, Raphael G. Warnock (Penguin Random House)
  • The Light We Carry, Michelle Obama (Penguin Random House)
  • Walking In My Joy: In These Streets, Jenifer Lewis (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • You’ve Been Chosen, Cynt Marshall (Ballantine Books)


  • Best Barbarian, Roger Reeves (Norton)
  • Bluest Nude, Ama Codjoe (Milkweed Editions)
  • Concentrate, Courtney Faye Taylor (Graywolf Press)
  • Muse Found in a Colonized Body, Yesenia Montilla (Four Way Books)
  • To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness, Robin Coste Lewis (Alfred A. Knopf)

Youth/ Teens

  • Cookies & Milk, Shawn Amos (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • Inheritance: A Visual Poem, Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperCollins – Quill Tree Books)
  • Maybe An Artist, A Graphic Memoir, Liz Montague (Random House Studio)
  • Me and White Supremacy: Young Readers’ Edition, Layla F. Saad (Sourcebooks)
  • Opening My Eyes Underwater: Essays on Hope, Humanity, and Our Hero Michelle Obama, Ashley Woodfolk (Feiwel & Friends, Macmillan)


  • Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas, Jeanne Walker Harvey, Loveis Wise (HarperCollins)
  • Black Gold, Laura Obuobi, London Ladd (HarperCollins)
  • Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky, Nana Brew-Hammond, Daniel Minter (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
  • Stacey’s Remarkable Books, Stacey Abrams, Kitt Thomas (HarperCollins – Balzer + Bray)
  • The Year We Learned to Fly, Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael Lopez (Penguin Random House)

Here are a few reactions across social media from the finalists;

WHAT? OMG! Thank you, JESUS! BLUE has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award!

Nana Brew-Hammond

Great day in the morning! AFRICA RISEN: A New Era of Speculative Fiction is nominated for NAACP IMAGE AWARD with some amazing books! 33 wonderful writers, 32 outstanding original stories! Thank you!

Sheree Renée Thomas

Thank you to the NAACP for nominating LIGHT SKIN GONE TO WASTE for Outstanding Literary Work. I am so grateful! @UGAPress @rgay

Toni Ann Johnson

I just found out that THE KEEPER got an @naacpimageaward nom!!! I’m about to start class, so forgive any missing names — but congrats to our team @marco949 @StevenBarnes1 @JiJennings We’re the only graphic novel in the category! Congrats to the nominees!!!

Tananarive Due

Oh wow, YOU MADE A FOOL OF DEATH WITH YOUR BEAUTY is up for an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Literary Work (Fiction) category! 🙌🏾 🔥👨🏿‍🍳💞👩🏿‍🎨🏆

Akwaeke Emezi

Honored to be nominated for this prestigious award despite facing adversity. A reminder to never give up on your dreams.

Boyah Farah

Y’all! God did it! I’m an NAACP IMAGE AWARD NOMINATED AUTHOR! 😭🙌🏾 Today, @TruthsTable received great news from @naacpimageaward that our book, Truth’s Table: Black Women’s Musings on Life, Love, and Liberation is nominated in the Outstanding Literary Work- Debut Author 🎉😭🎉

Ekemini Uwan

Extremely grateful (& stunned & THRILLED) to learn that What the Fireflies Knew was nominated for an  NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work by a Debut Author. A dream. 🖤 Thank you @naacpimageaward & my team & everyone who has supported this book. What a journey! 🙏🏽

Kai Harris

Omg! Concentrate is nominated for the NAACP Image Awards! ❤️ For years I’ve admired this award and the Black writers it recognizes. So honored to be alongside these extremely talented poets! Thank you, @naacpimageaward! ✨

Courtney Faye Taylor

Honored & full of gratitude to be on this list of nominees for the NAACP Image Awards. Deeply moved to be sharing space with poets I admire, love & whose work informs mine. My ancestors are not playing, they said jump & when I did they caught me with all this tenderness & gusto.

Yesenia Montilla

Astonished to be included in the 54th @naacpimageawards list of nominees. Doubly honored considering the regal history of the @naacp. Thank you for remembering and celebrating poetry—especially beside film, television, music, and other media arts. Congratulations to all the other nominees in every category. I’m honored to stand beside you.

Robin Coste Lewis

Thank you @naacpimageaward 🤗❤️📚 So honored to have Maybe An Artist nominated!!😆

Liz Montague

UM. What????? Thank you @naacpimageaward !!!

Ashley Woodfolk

The winners of the awards will be revealed in a live ceremony, the first in years, on February 25, 2023.