David Diop.

David Diop.

Photo by Sophie Bassouls/Sygma via Getty Images.

David Diop, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah & Aaliyah Bilal Named Finalists for 2023 National Book Awards

The finalists for the 2023 National Book Awards have been announced.

The National Book Awards unveiled the list of finalists for the 2023 prizes on Tuesday. This prestigious literary event, celebrating excellence in literature, will culminate with the announcement of the winners on November 15, during a grand ceremony held in New York City. The event will also be available for live streaming at no cost to audiences worldwide.

In the fiction category, Aaliyah Bilal's debut collection, Temple Folk, which intimately explores the experiences of Black Muslims in America as they navigate their relationship with mainstream culture, competes against the work of previous National Book Foundation honoree Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah.

Adjei-Brenyah's dystopian novel, Chain-Gang All-Stars, immerses readers in a world of gladiators fighting for their freedom within a for-profit prison system, with death matches broadcast live through, "Criminal Action Penal Entertainment." The novel delves into the concept of freedom in a nation grappling with systemic racism, rampant capitalism, and mass incarceration.

Notably, among the acknowledged authors in the category of translated literature is David Diop, renowned for his second novel, Beyond the Door of No Return. This compelling work delves into the intricate relationship between an 18th-century French botanist and a previously enslaved woman in Senegal.

The 2023 National Book Awards ceremony promises to be a night filled with literary excellence and celebration, with special guests including Rita Dove, and Paul Yamazaki in attendance.

Originally, the hosting duties were entrusted to Drew Barrymore. However, her invitation was revoked after she announced plans to resume her talk show amid the ongoing Hollywood strikes. Subsequently, Drew Barrymore decided to pause the production of her show. A new host has yet to be named, but the audience can look forward to a special guest appearance by the iconic Oprah Winfrey.

The National Book Foundation received an impressive submission of over 1,900 books for consideration across various categories, including 496 fiction titles and 638 nonfiction titles. Finalists, selected through a rigorous evaluation process, will each be awarded $1,000 along with a prestigious bronze medal. In the translated literature category, authors and translators will share the prize money.

From the pool of twenty-five finalists, five winners will be chosen in various categories, and their names will be revealed during the 74th National Book Awards ceremony on November 15th. Each winner will receive a generous $10,000 prize, in addition to a bronze medal and statue. The translated literature category will follow the same distribution, with prizes being divided between authors and translators.

The National Book Foundation will also present two distinguished lifetime achievement awards during the event. Rita Dove, a National Book Award finalist, and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, will be honored with the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Additionally, Paul Yamazaki, the principal buyer at City Lights Booksellers & Publishers, will receive the Foundation's Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.