The Academy Awards
for bookworms is here: Thursday morning, the National Book Foundation announced the longlist for the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction. Six hundred books were submitted by publishers in hopes of receiving such an honor, and those titles have been whittled down to 10.
The lineup for this year features a first for the Awards since their inception in 1950: the first book showcasing hip-hop to make the list comes from author Hanif Abdurraqib, while Chef Iliana Regan’s memoir gets food writing out of the kitchen and onto the list for the first time since Julia Child won in 1980. Overall, all 10 books cater to a diverse readership, with a range of subjects and voices that speak volumes on natural, cultural and personal experiences that match these titles to current headlines.
The complete longlist can be found below. Hopefully you’ll see some familiar favorites, or find new books to curl up with just in time for fall. The finalists will be announced on October 8, and the winners will be announced at the National Book Awards Ceremony on November 20.
2019 Longlist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction:
Hanif Abdurraqib, Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest
Abdurraqib evolves from fan to historian of A Tribe Called Quest in this genre-bending book that interrogates the rise of black culture that coincided with his coming of age in the 1990s.
Sarah M. Broom, The Yellow House
Broom tells the story of how a family, the home that encased them, and the city that home was in all weathered dilemmas bigger than themselves, such as tragedy, disaster and inequality. (You can read Paste’s review of the memoir here.)
Tressie McMillan Cottom, Thick: And Other Essays
McMillan Cottom jumps from Trump rallies to feminine beauty and black womanhood in America in this genre-defiant piece.
Carolyn Forché, What You have Heard is True: a Memoir of Witness and Resistance
In this memoir, poet Forché has an unexpected encounter that leads her to El Salvador, a country on the brink of war. (You can read Paste’s essay on the novel here.)
Greg Grandin, The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America
This book breaks down the historical context for Trump’s border wall by breaking down the American psyche. Grandin was previously honored by the National Book Awards as a Finalist for Nonfiction in 2009 for The Empire of Necessity.
Patrick Radden Keefe, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
Using recently released interviews with Irish Republican Army members, Keefe resolves an infamous disappearance and taps into old cultural wounds in Northern Ireland that haven’t healed since the Troubles.
Iliana Regan, Burn the Place: A Memoir
Regan, a self-taught chef, recounts how she found identity and solace in food while growing up gay in an intolerant town and launched a Michelin-starred career.
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership
Taylor is a scholar of black history and contemporary social justice movements who documents how the end of redlining in the 1960s and 1970s inspired new forms of injustice against low-income black families in the U.S.
David Treuer, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present
In his seventh book, Treuer blends the personal with the cultural, much like Abdurraqib. Heartbeat of Wounded Knee has a hand on the pulse of what it means to be Native American in this country, both historically and in contemporary culture. The book confronts issues Native Americans face such as land seizures, conscription in the U.S. military, and forced assimilation.
Albert Woodfox with Leslie George, Solidarity
Woodfox spent four decades in solitary confinement for a crime he didn’t commit. With George, he revisits this unthinkable torture and recalls how he and the others in the Angola 3 (three black men held at Louisiana State Penitentiary for supposed murder) survived the longest period of solitary confinement in American history.