The National Book Foundation announced its 2019 National Book Award winners at the 70th National Book Awards Ceremony in New York City on Wednesday night, narrowing a total of 1,712 books down to just five winners across the Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature and Young People’s Literature categories.
The winners in those categories, respectively, are Susan Choi for her novel Trust Exercise, Sarah M. Broom for her memoir The Yellow House (her first book!), Arthur Sze for his poetry collection Sight Lines, Ottilie Mulzet for her translation of László Krasznahorkai’s Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming, and Martin W. Sandler for his historical text 1919 The Year That Changed America.
A National Book Foundation press release details the winners and their works as follows:
Winner for Fiction:
Susan Choi, Trust Exercise
Henry Holt and Company / Macmillan Publishers
Susan Choi’s first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian American Literary Award for fiction. Her second novel, American Woman, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into a film. Her third novel, A Person of Interest, was a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award. In 2010, she was named the inaugural recipient of the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award. Her fourth novel, My Education, received a 2014 Lambda Literary Award. Her fifth novel, Trust Exercise, and Camp Tiger, her first book for children, came out in 2019. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, she teaches fiction writing at Yale and lives in Brooklyn.
Winner for Nonfiction:
Sarah M. Broom, The Yellow House
Grove Press / Grove Atlantic
Sarah M. Broom’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Oxford American, and O, The Oprah Magazine, among others. A native New Orleanian, she earned her Masters in Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley. She has been awarded a Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction Grant, and fellowships at Djerassi Resident Artists Program and The MacDowell Colony. She lives in Harlem.
Winner for Poetry:
Arthur Sze, Sight Lines
Copper Canyon Press
Arthur Sze has published ten books of poetry, including Sight Lines; Compass Rose, a Pulitzer Prize finalist; The Ginkgo Light, winner of the PEN Southwest Book Award and the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Book Award; Quipu; The Redshifting Web: Poems 1970-1998, winner of the Balcones Poetry Prize and the Asian American Literary Award; and Archipelago, winner of the American Book Award. He has also published one book of Chinese poetry translations, The Silk Dragon, selected for the Western States Book Award. Sze is the recipient of many honors, including the Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers, a Lannan Literary Award, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writer’s Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Howard Foundation Fellowship, and five grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry. His poems have been translated into a dozen languages, including Chinese, Dutch, German, Korean, and Spanish. Sze was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2017 and served as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2012 to 2017. He is a professor emeritus at the Institute of American Indian Arts and was the first poet laureate of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives.
Winner for Translated Literature:
László Krasznahorkai, Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming
Translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet
Winner of the 2015 Man Booker International Prize, László Krasznahorkai was born in Gyula, Hungary. Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming is his eighth book published by New Directions.
Ottilie Mulzet won the Best Translated Book Award in 2014 for her translation of László Krasznahorkai’s Seiobo There Below. She has also translated the work of Szilárd Borbély, Gábor Schein, György Dragomán and László F. Földényi. She lives in Prague.
Winner for Young People’s Literature:
Martin W. Sandler, 1919 The Year That Changed America
Bloomsbury Children’s Books / Bloomsbury Publishing
Martin W. Sandler is the award-winning author of Imprisoned, Lincoln Through the Lens, The Dust Bowl Through the Lens, and Kennedy Through the Lens. He has won five Emmy Awards for his writing for television and is the author of more than 60 books, four of which were YALSA Nonfiction Award finalists. Sandler has taught American history and American studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and at Smith College, and lives in Massachusetts.
These authors and titles triumphed over extensive competition: Publishers submitted 397 books in Fiction, 600 (!) in Nonfiction, 245 in Poetry, 145 in Translated Literature and 325 in Young People’s Literature.
In addition to the mainline awards, two lifetime achievement awards were handed out on Wednesday night, with Edmund White receiving the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (presented by, of all people, John Waters) and Oren J. Teicher receiving the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community (presented by Ann Patchett).
You can watch the awards ceremony in its entirety via Facebook.