Introducing the 2017 National Book Award Winners

A searing history of Russia, family dramas, and more nab the coveted literary prize.


Yesterday, one of the most prestigious literary prizes was given to four writers at the National Book Awards ceremony in New York City. The trophy comes with an additional $10,000, and finalists each receive $1,000. Among the winners was previous recipient Jesmyn Ward, who took home this year’s Fiction prize for her novel Sing, Unburied, Sing. It’s the Toni Morrison-esque story of a struggling Southern family, haunted by the ghosts of their past as they roadtrip across Mississippi.

The Nonfiction category went to Russian native and journalist Masha Gessen for The Future is History. Lauded for her damning biography of Putin, The Man Without a Face, Gessen returned to her home country to examine life in a post-Soviet world. The story unfolds through the eyes of four individuals, all of whom see their dreams of democracy crushed beneath a totalitarian regime.

Robin Benway received the award for Young People’s Literature. Her novel, Far from the Tree, follows three biological siblings who, after leading separate lives with their adoptive families, finally reconnect. A moving story of home and familial love, it’s already been compared to NBC’s hit drama This Is Us. 

Last but not least, Frank Bidart won the Poetry award for Half-light, which includes nearly half a century's work in addition to a new collection, Thirst. Whether he's writing of murderers or mental illness, Bidart never flinches from the darkness of the human psyche—and Half-light is no exception.

Read this year's National Book Award winners by downloading them today!



Sing, Unburied, Sing

By Jesmyn Ward

"A searing, urgent read for anyone who thinks the shadows of slavery and Jim Crow have passed, and anyone who assumes the ghosts of the past are easy to placate." —Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You



The Future is History

By Masha Gessen

"A remarkable portrait of an ever-shifting era…Gessen weaves her characters’ stories into a seamless, poignant whole. Her analysis of Putin’s malevolent administration is just as effective…a harrowing, compassionate and important book." —San Francisco Chronicle

Young People's Literature


Far from the Tree

By Robin Benway

"Family issues are neither airbrushed nor oversimplified. From the first page to the last, this compassionate, funny, moving, compulsively readable novel about what makes a family gets it right." —Kirkus Reviews



Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016

By Frank Bidart

"Relentless and ever willing to face his demons, no matter how almost overwhelming bounty, a permanent book." —Publishers Weekly

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