Jason Mott's Hell of a Book took home the National Book Award fiction prize and Tiya Miles won the nonfiction prize for All that She Carried: The Journey of Ashely's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake. The winners were announced during a virtual ceremony Wednesday evening.
Hell of a Book intertwines three different stories - a Black author on a cross-country book tour, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and the story of The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour. The book builds theses storylines in a funny and heart-wrenching way that goes to the heart of racism, police violence, and the hidden costs exacted upon Black Americans, and America as a whole.
All That She Carried traces the life of a single object handed down through three generations of Black women to craft an extraordinary testament to people who are left out of the archives. Through the story of a cotton bag, the book creates a singular and revelatory history of the experience of slavery, and the uncertain freedom afterward, in the United States.
Other nonfiction finalists included A Little Devil in America, by 2021 AViD author Hanif Abdurraqib; Running Out, by Lucas Bessire; Tastes Like War, by Grace M. Cho; and Covered with Night, by Nicole Eustace.
Other winners include:
Young People's Literature: Last Night at the Telegraph Club, by Malinda Lo
Poetry: Floaters, by Martín Espada
Translated Literature: Winter in Sokcho, by Elisa Shua Dusapin