The National Book Foundation Has Announced the Finalists For the 2020 National Book Awards

The National Book Foundation has announced its finalists for the 77th annual National Book Awards, which includes a handful of genre novels: Lydia Millet’s A Children’s Bible, Charles Yu’s novel Interior Chinadown, and Gavriel Savit’s The Way Back.

Millet’s A Children’s Bible is an apocalyptic novel about twelve children who are on a vacation with their neglectful families.

Civilization’s future is at stake in A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet, who holds a master’s degree in environmental policy. The cast of young characters in Millet’s novel easily fend for themselves as their parents remain indifferent to the devastation of the world around them in allegorical tale that defies rationalizations about climate change.

Interior Chinatown is Yu’s second novel (his first was the fantastic How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe). This one isn’t exactly science fiction, but like its predecessor, it’s nicely meta: A novel about Asian representation in Hollywood, told in screenplay form.

Everyone embodies a role in Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu and protagonist Willis Wu strives to land the best one available to an Asian-American man: Kung Fu Guy. Yu’s novel takes the concept of allegory and uses the familiar landscape of Hollywood tropes to create a nuanced, heartfelt, and stylistically unique portrait of Asian-American identity.

For Savit’s book, the NBF had this to say:

Jewish folklore infuses The Way Back by Gavriel Savit, in which two young people travel into a world of spirits and demons and must find their way home to their nineteenth-century shtetl Tupik in Eastern Europe.

Also honored this year is Walter Mosley, who will be awarded the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. While known as a crime writer, he’s written a handful of science fiction novels, such as 1998’s Blue Light, 2001’s Futureland: Nine Stories of an Imminent World, and 2005’s The Wave and 47. He is the first African-American author to receive the award.

You can see the full list of finalists here.


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