The 2018 National Book Awards Winners Represent The Best Literature Of The Year
On Wednesday night, the winners of the 2018 National Book Awards — a.k.a the Academy Awards of books — were announced at a ceremony in New York City. Trust me when I say that these five books (and all the finalists) need to be moved to the very top of your winter reading list.
This year marks the first that the National Book Foundation awarded a prize to the best work of Translated Literature, a move that seeks to broaden and deepen the definition of "American literature."
"There has never been a better time to acknowledge that literatures originating elsewhere are as much a part of our 'national literature' as anything else," Michael Reynolds, editor-in-chief of Europa Editions, told Bustle in an interview earlier this year. "Like the many foreign-born people living in this country who have contributed so much to the culture, foreign literature, brought to life here thanks to the work of devoted translators, editors, and publishers, takes nothing away from the culture, rather it enriches and diversifies it."
In addition to the award for Translated Literature, the National Book Foundation bestowed honors to books in the categories of Young People's Literature, Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction. All five of the authors are people of color. Here are the best book of the year:
Young People's Literature: 'The Poet X' by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is a novel-in-verse about an Afro-Latina teen who finds her voice — and her truth — through spoken word poetry.
Translated Literature: 'The Emissary' by Yoko Tawada, translated by Margaret Mitsutani
The Emissary by Yoko Tawada, translated by Margaret Mitsutani is a dystopian novel set in a Japan where children are born terribly weak and the elderly are the only ones with the verve and strength to live.
Poetry: 'Indecency' by Justin Phillip Reed
Indecency, the debut poetry collection by Justin Phillip Reed tackles issues of race, white supremacy, sexuality, and mass incarceration.
Nonfiction: 'The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke' by Jeffrey C. Stewart
The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke by Jeffrey C. Stewart is a history of the life and legacy of Alain Locke, the father of the Harlem Renaissance and a mentor to Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and more.
Fiction: 'The Friend' by Sigrid Nunez
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez follows a woman who is forced to adopt her mentor's dog after his death by suicide. It's not so much a book about a dog as a book about grief and fulfillment and writing and mental health and the many different shapes of love.