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Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Longlist: 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction

NBF-longlist-225Awards season is here! Earlier this week, the National Book Foundation announced their Longlists for the 2019 National Book Awards in Young People's Literature and Translated Literature, and the 10 longlistees for Nonfiction were revealed today. Finalists will be revealed on October 8, and the prizes will be awarded on November 20 at the 70th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. 


2019 Longlist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction


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Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest (American Music) by Hanif Abdurraqib

Our own top pick for the best entertainment book of the year so far, Go Ahead is much larger than an homage to a favorite hip hop group. A series of letters to each band member, Abdurraquib writes of his own relationship to the music as a way of examining its power and relevance in culture, especially in this particular moment of our culture.

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The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom

Broom shares a hundred years of her family history and the relationship to their home in a neglected area of one of America’s most mythologized cities: New Orleans. This is the story of a mother’s struggle against a house's entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina.


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Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

In eight highly praised essays on beauty, media, money, and more, McMillan Cottom is unapologetically “thick”: deemed “thick where I should have been thin, more where I should have been less.” She refuses to shy away from blending the personal with the political, from bringing her full self and voice to the fore of her analytical work.


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What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance by Carolyn Forché

Forché is twenty-seven when the mysterious stranger appears on her doorstep: a charming polymath with a mind as seemingly disordered as it is brilliant. He has driven from El Salvador to invite Forché to visit and learn about his country. For reasons she doesn't fully understand, she accepts and becomes enmeshed in something beyond her comprehension. What You Have Heard is True is a devastating memoir about a young woman's brave choice to engage with horror in order to help others, written by one of the most gifted poets of her generation.


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The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America by Greg Grandin

Pulitzer Prize-finalist Grandin argues America’s constant expansion, fighting wars, and opening markets served as a “gate of escape,” helping to deflect domestic political and economic conflicts outward. But this meant that the country’s problems, from racism to inequality, were never confronted directly. And now, the combined catastrophe of the 2008 financial crisis and wars in the Middle East have slammed this gate shut, bringing political passions that had long been directed elsewhere back home.


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Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

With the pacing of a thriller, and an intricate, yet compulsively readable storytelling structure, Keefe’s exhaustive reportage brings home the terror, the waste, and the heartbreaking futility of a guerrilla war fought in peoples’ homes as well as in the streets. Say Nothing captures the devastation of veterans on both sides, uneasily enjoying the peace that finally came while wondering if they had fought the good fight or been complicit in murder all along.


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Burn the Place: A Memoir by Iliana Regan

Regan has been possessed by an intense connection with food since her childhood. She was also a little girl who longed to be a boy, gay in an intolerant community, an alcoholic before she turned twenty, and a woman in an industry dominated by men. But as she learned to cook in her childhood farmhouse, taught herself cutting-edge cuisine and worked her way from front-of-house staff to running her own kitchen, Regan found that food could help her navigate the strangeness of the world around her. Burn the Place is powerful debut memoir that traces one chef’s struggle to find her place, and what happens once she does.

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Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership (Justice, Power, and Politics) by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Seeking to calm the urban turbulence of late 1960s and early 1970s by turning Black city-dwellers into homeowners, lawmakers set about establishing policies to induce mortgage lenders and the real estate industry to treat Black home-buyers equally. The disaster that ensued revealed that racist exclusion had not been eradicated, but rather transmuted into a new phenomenon of predatory inclusion. Race for Profit reveals how the urban core was transformed into a new frontier of cynical extraction.


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The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer

Treuer, who is Ojibwe, looks at the native American experience post-1800s and points out that their history does not end in 1890 with the Wounded Knee massacre. Since then it has necessarily been a history of renewal and reinvention, of adaptation and evolution. That's a very interesting truth, in direct conflict with the majority of history books that would make you believe native Americans were effectively wiped from the continent more than 100 years ago.


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Solitary by Albert Woodfox

Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement in Louisiana's notorious Angola prison, all for a crime he did not commit - a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge whole from his odyssey within America’s prison and judicial systems is a triumph of the human spirit, and makes his book a clarion call to reform the inhumanity of solitary confinement in the U.S. and around the world.


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