It’s a good year to be a newcomer, at least if you dream of a National Book Award. Eight of the 10 nominees on the annual prizes’ fiction longlist, announced Friday by the National Book Foundation, are debut fiction authors. Their narratives include the making of an artist from a struggling Florida immigrant family, an epic of ecstatic visions revolving around a failed Midwestern industrial town, a queer Latino professor’s conflicted return to suburban Long Island and women trying to make do in male-dominated Alaska.
Among the nominated debuts are “If I Survive You” by Jonathan Escoffery, “Maria, Maria & Other Stories” by Marytza K. Rubio, “The Town of Babylon” by Alejandro Varela and “The Rabbit Hutch” by Tess Gunty. Jamil Jan Kochai drew a nod for his second book, the story collection “The Haunting of Hajji Hotak,” and Gayle Jones, who was a fiction finalist in 1998, was longlisted for her new novel, “The Birdcatcher.”
Forty other authors were listed earlier this week in the categories of poetry, nonfiction, translated literature and young people’s literature.
Newcomers to the prize dominated the nonfiction category as well. Among those on the longlist is UCLA professor Kelly Lytle Hernandez, for “Bad Mexicans,” a riveting account of how the 1910 Mexican Revolution was plotted by rebels living in the American South and West. The foundation also recognized memoirs or essays taking on broad subjects, such as chronic illness (Meghan O’Rourke’s “Invisible Kingdom”), South American shamanism (“The Man Who Could Move Clouds,” by Ingrid Rojas Contreras), the concept of loss (Kathryn Schulz’s “Lost and Found”) and the racial legacy of the South (“South to America,” by Imani Perry).
Sharon Olds, Quincy Troupe, Shelley Wong and Jenny Xie were among those longlisted for poetry; nominees for young people’s literature include Sabaa Tahir, Sherri Winston and Traci Chee; and the foundation recognized translated literature from Samanta Schweblin, Scholastique Mukasonga, 2018 Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk and others.
Finalists in all categories will be revealed on Oct. 4, and the winners will be honored on Nov. 16 in New York City.
Fiction nominees: “When We Were Sisters,” Fatimah Asghar; “Shutter,” Ramona Emerson; “If I Survive You,” Jonathan Escoffery; “The Rabbit Hutch,” Tess Gunty; “The Birdcatcher,” Gayle Jones; “The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories,” Jamil Jan Kochai; “All This Could Be Different,” Sarah Thankam Mathews; “Nobody Gets Out Alive,” Leigh Newman; “Maria, Maria & Other Stories,” Marytza K. Rubio; “The Town of Babylon,” Alejandro Varela
Nonfiction: “Bright Unbearable Reality: Essays,” Anna Badkhen; “Ted Kennedy: A Life,” John A. Farrell; “Uncommon Measure: A Journey Through Music, Performance, and the Science of Time,” Natalie Hodges; “Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in the Borderlands,” Kelly Lytle Hernandez; “The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness,” Meghan O’Rourke; “South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation,” Imani Perry; “Breathless: The Scientific Race to Defeat a Deadly Virus,” David Quammen; “The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir,” Ingrid Rojas Contreras; “His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice,” Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa; “Lost & Found: A Memoir,” Kathryn Schulz
Poetry: “Golden Ax,” Rio Cortez; “Look at This Blue,” Allison Adelle Hedge Coke; “Still Life,” Jay Hopler; “Punks: New & Selected Poems,” John Keene; “Balladz,” Sharon Olds; “Best Barbarian,” Roger Reeves; “Mummy Eaters,” Sherry Shenoda; “Duende,” Quincy Troupe; “As She Appears,” Shelley Wong; “The Rupture Tense,” Jenny Xie;
Young People’s Literature: “The Ogress and the Orphans,” Kelly Barnhill; “The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen,” Isaac Blum; “A Thousand Steps Into Night,” Traci Chee; “Swim Team,” Johnny Christmas; “Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix,” Anna-Marie McLemore; “The Lesbian’s Guide to Catholic School,” Sonora Reyes; “Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice,” Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes, Dawud Anyabwile; “All My Rage,” Sabaa Tahir; “Lotus Bloom and the Afro Revolution,” Sherri Winston; “Maizy Chen’s Last Chance,” Lisa Yee
Translated Literature: “Ibn Arabi’s Small Death,” Mohammed Hasan Alwan, translated from Arabic by William M. Hutchins; “A New Name: Septology VI-VII,” Jon Fosse, translated from Norwegian by Damion Searls; “Seasons of Purgatory,” Shahriar Mandanipour, translated from Persian by Sara Khalili; “Kibogo,” Scholastique Mukasonga, translated from French by Mark Polizzotti; “Jawbone,” Monica Ojeda, translated from Spanish by Sarah Booker; “The Employees,” Olga Ravn, translated from Danish by Martin Aitken; “Seven Empty Houses,” Samanta Schweblin, translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell; “Where You Come From,” Sasa Stanisic, translated from German by Damion Searls; “Scattered All Over the Earth,” Yoko Tawada, translated from Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani; “The Books of Jacob,” Olga Tokarczuk, translated from Polish by Jennifer Croft