2017’s National Book Award Winners

The National Book Foundation awarded various National Book awards on November 15, 2017. The National Book Awards are given to one author each year in four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature. There were 1,529 works submitted for review. 394 were in fiction, 553 in nonfiction, 245 in poetry and 337 in young people’s literature. Below are the winners for each category.

Young People’s Literature:

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway:


This story centers around a girl named Grace who was adopted at birth. In the story, she had a baby and ended up putting the baby up for adoption. Once she put her baby up for adoption, she attempts to find her biological family. She finds her younger sister Maya who is also hoping to find her real family, especially because her adopted family has a long history of problems that unravel throughout the story. The story also includes Joaquin, the older biological brother. He has no desire to find his biological mother unlike the girls. His experience in foster care has provided him with the belief that, in the world, there are no heroes.


Half Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 by Frank Bidart:


The collection of poem aims to transform the body into language. The poems touch on humans inner desires and “wild appetites,” whether it is through the voice and mind of a child murderer, obsessive anorexic or the poet’s own voice. The poems demonstrate the vulnerabilities of the human mind and display the emotions of each individual candidly. The poems are dark and entire deep into the psyche of each person.


The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen:


This nonfiction book follows four individuals who live in Russia. These four individuals were born right at the end of Soviet Union era. Masha Gessen aims to understand their interpretations, expectations of the Russia they were once promised. The book aims to understand how Russia came to be once again a symbol of totalitarian state when it was once promised democracy and reform.


Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward:


This story follows Jojo and Kayla, two children living with their grandparents and drug-addicted mother on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Their mother, Leonie, is constantly tortured by images of her dead brother when she is high on drugs. Their grandmother is dying of cancer and their grandfather is trying to take the position of the household, while also preparing Jojo to take care of the home one day. Leonie decides to take Jojo and Kayla to see their white father who was released from prison, and the story follows their journey.

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About the Author

Yesika Sorto Andino is a junior at UNC Charlotte majoring in Political Science and double minoring in Public Health and Children’s Literature and Childhood Studies. An aspiring United Nations diplomat, she hopes to one day work in Geneva to combat injustices occurring throughout the world. She is very keen on stargazing and hopes to travel throughout the world and see the brightest night skies someday. While she is not contemplating the complexities of life, she is watching the West Wing while eating chocolate and drinking sweet tea.