November 14, 2016
As my colleague Rebecca writes about in her post on the young people's literature category, the National Book Award winners will be announced on November 16, 2016. The adult finalists comprise a diverse group in terms of style and subject matter, yet all invite us to think and read deeply. The National Book Awards are one of the over 1000 awards we track here at NoveList.
Colson Whitehead never writes the same book twice. Here he uses magical realism to explore the legacy of slavery in the United States, reimagining the Underground Railroad as a literal subterranean rail network.
Read-alike: The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
This lyrical coming-of-age story follows a quartet of four African-American girls, documenting how their friendship evolves as they navigate the tricky terrain between childhood and adolescence.
Read-alike: Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones
This thought-provoking novel starts with a bang – literally – as it traces the intertwined fates of two families whose lives are forever transformed by a bombing in 1996 Delhi, India.
Read-alike: All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu
The rituals of masculinity and male bonding drive this slyly satirical novel about middle-aged football fans who gather each year to reenact a 1985 NFL game.
Read-alike: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Set in 1870, this character-driven novel follows a Civil War veteran as he escorts a 10-year-old girl, a “redeemed captive” of the Kiowa, to her relatives in Texas.
Read-alike: Bohemian Girl by Terese Svoboda
In this thoughtful book, Berkeley-based sociologist Hochschild spends five years in conservative Lake Charles, LA, documenting the United States’ widening cultural divide.
Read-alikes: (for this title) The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer; (for this author) Barbara Ehrenreich, especially Nickel and Dimed)
Following on the heels of the author's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Sympathizer, the thought-provoking Nothing Ever Dies examines the profound psychological impact of the Vietnam War on combatants and civilians, in Vietnam and in the United States.
Read-alikes: The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars by Andrew X. Pham; Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey by G.B. Tran
This sobering account of an infamous 1971 prison riot chronicles not only the event itself, but its lasting effects on the criminal justice system and the implications of mass incarceration on the issue of civil rights.
Read-alike: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Race has always been, and continues to be, a defining aspect of American life and culture. This impassioned history traces the roots of white supremacy back to the nation’s founding.
Read-alike: White Rage by Carol Anderson
As unpalatable as the notion may be, the United States would not exist in its current form without the institution of slavery. This eye-opening, often disturbing account examines the enslavement of America’s indigenous peoples by European colonists from the 15th through the 19th centuries.
Read-alike: Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America by Christina Snyder