NEW YORK — Books by former Louisiana State Penitentiary inmate Albert Woodfox, New Orleans native Sarah M. Broom and Shreveport poet Jericho Brown are finalists for this year's 70th annual National Book Awards, it was announced Tuesday.
Woodfox spent more than 40 years in solitary confinement in Angola before his murder conviction was overturned and he was released, in 2016. His memoir "Solitary," written with Leslie George, is a finalist for nonfiction.
Broom's 1961-set "The Yellow House," released in August and also nominated for nonfiction, is a memoir "about the inexorable pull of home and family, set in a shotgun house in New Orleans East," a synopsis on Amazon states.
And Brown's "The Tradition" is vying in the poetry category.
Five nominees were announced in each of five categories, ranging from fiction to translation to young people's literature. None of the finalists has ever won a competitive National Book Award and only four have received any kind of recognition, including poetry nominee Toi Derricotte, a recipient of an honorary National Book Award in 2016 for co-founding the poetry center Cave Canem.
This year's winners will be announced Nov. 20 at a benefit dinner in New York City, with LeVar Burton serving as host and honorary prizes going to author Edmund White and to Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association. The awards are presented by the National Book Foundation. Winners in the competitive categories each receive $10,000.
Chosen for fiction are Marlon James' fantasy novel "Black Leopard, Red Wolf," Laila Lalami's immigrant tale "The Other Americans," Susan Choi's "Trust Exercise," Kali Fajardo-Anstine's "Sabrina & Corina" and Julia Phillips' "Disappearing Earth."
In nonfiction, nominees besides Woodfox and Broom are Tressie McMillan Cottom's "Thick: And Other Essays," Carolyn Forché's "What You Have Heard is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance" and David Treuer's "The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present."
The translation nominees were Khaled Khalifa's "Death Is Hard Work" (translated from the Arabic by Leri Price), László Krasznahorkai's "Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming" (translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet), Scholastique Mukasonga's "The Barefoot Woman" (translated from the French by Jordan Stump), Yoko Ogawa's "The Memory Police" (translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder) and Pajtim Statovci's "Crossing" (translated from the Finnish by David Hackston).
In poetry, finalists besides Derricotte's "I: New and Selected Poems" were Ilya Kaminsky's "Deaf Republic," Carmen Giménez Smith's "Be Recorder" and Arthur Sze's "Sight Lines." Nominees besides Reynolds in young people's literature were Akwaeke Emezi's "Pet," Randy Ribay's "Patron Saints of Nothing," Laura Ruby's "Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All" and Martin W. Sandler's "1919 The Year That Changed America."
Ten of the 25 nominated books, including four out of five in fiction, were released by Penguin Random House, the country's largest publisher. Another 10 came from university and independent presses. The finalists were voted on by judging panels of authors, critics and others in the literary community. Publishers submitted more than 1,700 books for consideration.
Staff writer Judy Bergeron contributed to this report.