National Book Awards Longlist – 2020

The National Book Foundation posted the longlist for the National Book Award this month! The finalists will be posted on October 6th, if you’re interested. I love book awards, and I’m glad I caught this one early to see how far each book gets. Hope you enjoy!

Leave the World Behind by Alam Rumaan

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

At first, I thought this was going to be a typical thriller, but then I noticed that it’s also about race and parenthood. Sign me up. I’m hoping it digs deeper than I expect it to. I hope to read this soon! To be published on 10/6/20.

The Index of Self-Destructive Acts by Christopher R. Beha

“While the end of the world might not be arriving, Beha’s characters are each headed for apocalypses of their own making.”

This just doesn’t seem like a book I want to read. I feel like a ton of things are going to happen that I need to keep track of. It involves politics, end of the world predictions, baseball. Um, why is that all put in a book? Where would this book even go? I know I shouldn’t judge a book so fast, but I just don’t want to give a book a bad rating because it’s clearly not for me. Published 5/5/20.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Twins, inseparable as children, ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds: one black and one white.

This is obviously the one I hear the most about. It actually seems like an interesting take on a story line that has been done already. I’m really interested to see where it goes. I’m also curious to see how the topic of race is discussed. Published 6/2/20.

If I Had Two Wings by Randall Kenan

Now, with inventiveness seasoned by maturity and shot through with humor, Kenan riffs on appetites of all kinds, on the eerie persistence of history, on unstoppable losses and unexpected salvations.

Oof, I don’t think this is for me. I don’t read short stories already, but this just doesn’t pique my interest. I have no plans to read this book, but I can see why it’s on the list. If you read this, and liked it, let me know down in the comments. The cover is really pretty, though! Published 8/4/20.

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.”

This is the only other book I have seen floating around the internet. I’ve heard that it’s quite political, which makes me hesitate to open this one up. I don’t know much of anything about politics. It also seems to be about politics in a different country. I can’t even get a grasp on American politics. I might read this, but I have no plans for it anytime soon. Published 6/2/20.

A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet

“A Children’s Bible is a prophetic, heartbreaking story of generational divide—and a haunting vision of what awaits us on the far side of Revelation.”

I don’t think I would have picked this one up a year ago, but I’m interested to see how this one ends. I’m hoping that the writing style is good because the story sounds quite compelling. Published 5/12/20.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

“The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good.”

I didn’t read the synopsis until writing this blog post, and I’m definitely interested in reading it. It’s a short story collection about the double standards of the church. I’m not a religious person, but I’m sure everyone knows about how hypocritical religion can be. I respect and love learning about different religions, so do not come for me. I would love to read this at some point. Published 9/1/20.

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

A heartbreaking story of addiction, sexuality, and love, Shuggie Bain is an epic portrayal of a working-class family that is rarely seen in fiction.

I don’t know anything about the Thatcher era, and this is one that takes place during those times—1980s. I don’t know if this is supposed to be heartbreaking, but I feel like it’ll hit me in the feels. I can’t imagine not having a childhood. My parents, thankfully, tried their hardest to give me everything I needed. That’s all you could ever want. I’m interested to see what this story is like. Published 2/11/20.

The Great Offshore Grounds by Vanessa Vaselka

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.

I love novels that involve families. I typically enjoy those types of stories. This is one I’ve never read about before. I could see why it ended up on this list. I don’t really know where it would go, but I’m really interested to find out. Hopefully, I’ll get to this one soon! Published 8/25/20.

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.

This book was published in January of this year by Pantheon Books, and I didn’t see anything about it until they announced this list. It has decent ratings on Goodreads, but I’m not entirely sure if it’s a book that interests me all that much. It obviously discusses race, which I’m always here for, but it feels too bizarre for my taste. I enjoy reading a serious novel that discusses race, rather than one that jokes about stereotyping—not that there is anything wrong with a little satire. Published 1/28/20.

That’s all for this post! I wish I was someone who could read all of these for a secret tbr, but I just don’t think that’s plausible for me. What do you guys think?

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