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The 2020 National Book Awards Longlist: Fiction


This week, The New Yorker announced the longlists for the 2020 National Book Awards. Earlier, we presented the lists for Young People’s Literature, Translated Literature, Poetry, and Nonfiction.

Douglas Stuart’s novel “Shuggie Bain,” which traces the life of a boy with an alcoholic mother, is a queer coming-of-age story, an intimate study of familial bonds, and, in the author’s words, a “love story to Glasgow,” the city where he grew up. “Shuggie Bain” is one of three débuts on the longlist for this year’s National Book Award for Fiction. “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies,” a story collection by Deesha Philyaw, narrates experiences of Black women across regions and generations, mapping desire and friendship within the confines of religious communities. “A Burning,” Megha Majumdar’s novel set in present-day India, begins with a terrorist attack at a train station and unfurls into a complex story of poverty, corruption, and injustice.

Other contenders include Brit Bennett’s “The Vanishing Half,” which follows a pair of twins, both racially ambiguous Black women, whose lives diverge when one chooses to pass as white; Charles Yu’s “Interior Chinatown,” a satirical novel that skewers Hollywood’s hackneyed depictions of Asians; and Rumaan Alam’s “Leave the World Behind,” about two families, one Black and one white, who find themselves stranded in a rental vacation home when a blackout shuts down New York City. Lydia Millet is the only nominee whose work has been previously long-listed for the award. The full list is below.

The judges for the category this year are Cristina Henríquez, the author of “ The Book of Unknown Americans”; Keaton Patterson, of Brazos Bookstore, in Houston; Laird Hunt, the author of “ Zorrie,” who teaches at Brown University; Rebecca Makkai, whose novel “ The Great Believers” was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; and Roxane Gay, the author of “ Bad Feminist” and “ Hunger.”


Originally published at https://www.newyorker.com.

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