National Book Award Longlists for Fiction and Nonfiction, PEN America Literary Grant Recipients, and More

by Staff

Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—publishing reports, literary dispatches, academic announcements, and more—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories.

The longlist for the 2021 National Book Award for Fiction was announced this morning. Four previous fiction honorees appear on the list: Anthony Doerr for Cloud Cuckoo Land, Lauren Groff for Matrix, Elizabeth McCracken for The Souvenir Museum, and Richard Powers for Bewilderment. Three first novels also made the cut: Abundance by Jakob Guanzon, The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, and The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. This year’s longlist was winnowed down from a total of 415 submissions.

Jeffers and Jones both answered Ten Questions from Poets & Writers Magazine earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the longlist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction landed yesterday afternoon. This year’s ten semifinalists include A Little Devil in America by Hanif Abdurraqib, Tastes Like War by Grace M. Cho, and How the Word Is Passed by Clint Smith. The shortlists for all five categories—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature, and young people’s literature—will be announced on October 5. 

A profile of Smith by Destiny O. Birdsong appeared in this year’s July/August issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

In more awards news, PEN America revealed the recipients of its annual literary grants, including the PEN/Jean Stein Grants for Literary Oral History and the PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants.

“Book contracts generally cover all the same things, but how they do that is different for every book.” Literary agent Kate McKean has penned a primer addressing all money matters—including advances, payouts, and royalties—in book contracts. (Don’t Write Alone)

“I’m often motivated to write by what makes me mad; in this case I felt compelled to pen a rebuttal to every last poem in Fernando Pessoa & Co.” James Hannaham writes about how reading the poetry of Fernando Pessoa inspired his forthcoming multigenre book, Pilot Impostor. (Bookforum)

“The excitement and titillation in Rooney’s novels comes just as much from the rangy banter as the lithe, entangled bodies.” Amil Niazi studies how Sally Rooney renders the erotic in her novels. (Cut)

“I lived on a farm with no bookstore nearby—Scholastic Book Fair day at school was the best day of my life.” Novelist, poet, and screenwriter Zoe Whittall talks about the books and media that have sustained her. (Entertainment Weekly)

A new LGBTQ+ book series, Zero Street Fiction, is in the works at University of Nebraska Press. (Publishers Weekly)