The National Book Foundation announced the 10 finalists for the National Book Award for Fiction this morning, and it’s an impressive list full of pleasant surprises. The first is that eight of the 10 nominees are women; another is that six of the eight are women of color; and the last is the presence of several surprising dark horse selections from small presses.
While it’s no surprise to see Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing and Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach among the finalists, it’s gratifying to see this kind of attention given to Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, an epic saga of the struggles of ethnic Koreans in Japan, Lisa Ko’s Bellwether Prize-winning The Leavers, and Charmaine Craig’s Miss Burma.
Independent publishers are represented by Counterpoint Press of Berkeley with A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, Graywolf Press of Minneapolis with Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties: Stories and New Issues Poetry & Prose at Western Michigan University with Barren Island by Carol Zoref.
Finalists will be announced on October 4, with the awards ceremony to be held in New York on November 15.
The complete list:
Dark at the Crossing by Elliot Ackerman (Knopf/Penguin Random House)
The King Is Always Above the People: Stories by Daniel Alarcón (Riverhead Books/Penguin Random House)
Miss Burma by Charmaine Craig (Grove Press/Grove Atlantic)
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)
The Leavers by Lisa Ko (Algonquin Books/Workman Publishing)
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group)
Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press)
A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (Counterpoint Press)
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)
Barren Island by Carol Zoref (New Issues Poetry & Prose)