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FOR THE PERSON WHO LIKES THEIR BOOKS AWARD PANEL-VETTED

FICTION

1. Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong.

2. The Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet

An indelible novel of teenage alienation and adult complacency in an unraveling world.

3. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

A novel that explores the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good.

4. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

A stunning debut novel by a masterful writer telling the heartwrenching story of a young boy and his alcoholic mother, whose love is only matched by her pride.

5. A Burning by Megha Majumdar

For readers of Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi, and Jhumpa Lahiri, an electrifying debut novel about three unforgettable characters who seek to rise—to the middle class, to political power, to fame in the movies—and find their lives entangled in the wake of a catastrophe in contemporary India.

6. The Great Offshore Grounds by Vanessa Veselka

A wildly original, cross-country novel that subverts a long tradition of family narratives and casts new light on the mythologies—national, individual, and collective—that drive and define us.

7. If I Had Two Wings by Randall Kenan

Mingling the earthy with the otherworldly, these ten stories chronicle ineffable events in ordinary lives.

8. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

9. The New Wilderness by Diane Cook

Helen Phillips meets Miranda July in this daring and imaginative debut novel that explores a moving mother-daughter relationship in a world ravaged by climate change and overpopulation, a suspenseful second book from the author of the acclaimed story collection, Man V. Nature.

10. This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

A searing novel about the obstacles facing women in Zimbabwe, by one of the country’s most notable authors.

11. Real Life by Brandon Taylor

A novel of startling intimacy, violence, and mercy among friends in a Midwestern university town, from an electric new voice.

12. The Shadow King by Maaza Megiste

A gripping novel set during Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, The Shadow King takes us back to the first real conflict of World War II, casting light on the women soldiers who were left out of the historical record.

13. Apeirogon by Colum McCann

The National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Let the Great World Spin tells an epic story rooted in the real-life friendship between two men united by loss in this daring, symphonic novel.

14. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

A page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

15. How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang

An electric debut novel set against the twilight of the American gold rush, two siblings are on the run in an unforgiving landscape—trying not just to survive but to find a home.

16. Interior Chinatown By Charles Yu

From the infinitely inventive author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe comes a deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play.

NONFICTION

1. Afropessimism by Frank Wilderson

Combining trenchant philosophy with lyrical memoir, Afropessimism is an unparalleled account of Blackness.

2. The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

One of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard reveals the hidden lives of her fellow undocumented Americans in this deeply personal and groundbreaking portrait of a nation.

3. Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

The Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Warmth Of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

4. The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne & Tamara Payne

An epic biography of Malcolm X finally emerges, drawing on hundreds of hours of the author’s interviews, rewriting much of the known narrative.

5. My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland

In genre-defying vignettes, Jenn Shapland interweaves her own story with Carson McCullers’s to create a vital new portrait of one of America’s most beloved writers, and shows us how the writers we love and the stories we tell about ourselves make us who we are.

POETRY

1. Guillotine by Eduardo C. Corral

Through the voices of undocumented immigrants, border patrol agents, and scorned lovers, the award-winning poet Eduardo C. Corral writes dramatic portraits of contradiction, survival, and a deeply human, relentless interiority. With extraordinary lyric imagination, these poems wonder about being unwanted or renounced. What do we do with unrequited love? Is it with or without it that we would waste away?

2. Obit by Victoria Chang

After her mother’s death, Chang wrote deep into grief by composing “obits”—from her mother’s blue dress to language itself.

3. The Galleons by Rick Barot

For almost twenty years, Rick Barot has been writing some of the most stunningly crafted lyric poems in America, paying careful, Rilkean attention to the layered world that surrounds us. In The Galleons, he widens his scope, contextualizing the immigrant journey of his Filipino-American family in the larger history and aftermath of colonialism.

4. Travesty Generator Lillian-Yvonne Bertram

Like a ghost in the machine, Travesty Generator remixes programming codes and turns them to ruminate on the intersections of race and gender.


IN TRANSLATION

1. High as the Waters Rise Anja Kampmann

German poet Anja Kampmann’s award-winning debut novel is the dazzling, heart-rending story of an oil rig worker whose closest friend goes missing, plunging him into isolation and forcing him to confront his past.

2. The Bitch by Pilar Quintana

In Colombia’s brutal jungle, childless Damaris develops an intense and ultimately doomed relationship with an orphaned puppy.

3. The Story of a Goat by Perumal Murugan

From one of India’s best-known writers and the author of the National Book Award-longlisted One Part Woman comes a charming and surprising tale of an orphaned goat and the family that decides to take care of her, despite the potential cost to them.

HOLIDAY 2020 GIFT GUIDE: AWARD NOMINEES
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