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Updated: Jan 2

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2023 is Over, but There Were Plenty of Literary Award Winners

Every year, there are the “It” novels that everyone talks about. You see them mentioned in reviews, winning awards, being talked about by your friends, book groups, and hear about them by word of mouth. Here’s the list of 2023’s award-winning novels.


The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias

(Mulholland Books)


cover photo of the devil takes you home by Gabino Iglesias
Gabino Iglesias's The Devil Takes You Home

Buried in debt due to his young daughter’s illness, his marriage at the brink, Mario reluctantly takes a job as a hitman, surprising himself with his proclivity for violence. After tragedy destroys the life he knew, Mario agrees to one final job: hijack a cartel’s cash shipment before it reaches Mexico. Along with an old friend and a cartel-insider named Juanca, Mario sets off on the near-suicidal mission, which will leave him with either a cool $200,000 or a bullet in the skull. But the path to reward or ruin is never as straight as it seems. As the three complicated men travel through the endless landscape of Texas, across the border and back, their hidden motivations are laid bare alongside nightmarish encounters that defy explanation. One thing is certain: even if Mario makes it out alive, he won’t return the same.


Alma Katsu, The Fervor (G. P. Putnam’s Sons)

Gwendolyn Kiste, Reluctant Immortals (Gallery / Saga Press)

Josh Malerman, Daphne (Del Rey Books)

Catriona Ward, Sundial (Tor Nightfire)



Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka

(William Morrow and Company)


cover photo for notes on an execution by danya kukafka
Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka

Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours. He knows what he’s done, and now awaits execution, the same chilling fate he forced on those girls, years ago. But Ansel doesn’t want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood.


Through a kaleidoscope of women—a mother, a sister, a homicide detective—we learn the story of Ansel’s life. We meet his mother, Lavender, a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation; Hazel, twin sister to Ansel’s wife, inseparable since birth, forced to watch helplessly as her sister’s relationship threatens to devour them all; and finally, Saffy, the detective hot on his trail, who has devoted herself to bringing bad men to justice but struggles to see her own life clearly. As the clock ticks down, these three women sift through the choices that culminate in tragedy, exploring the rippling fissures that such destruction inevitably leaves in its wake.


Blending breathtaking suspense with astonishing empathy, Notes on an Execution presents a chilling portrait of womanhood as it simultaneously unravels the familiar narrative of the American serial killer, interrogating our system of justice and our cultural obsession with crime stories, asking readers to consider the false promise of looking for meaning in the psyches of violent men.



John Darnielle, Devil House (MCD)

Gabino Iglesias, The Devil Takes You Home (Mulholland Books)

Nita Prose, The Maid (Ballantine)

Kellye Garrett, Like a Sister (Mulholland Books)

Chuck Hogan, Gangland (Grand Central Publishing)



The Return of Faraz Ali by Aamina Ahmad



book cover of the return of faraz ali by aamina ahmad
The Return of Faraz Ali by Aamina Ahmad

Not since childhood has Faraz returned to the Mohalla, in Lahore’s walled inner city, where women continue to pass down the art of courtesan from mother to daughter. But he still remembers the day he was abducted from the home he shared with his mother and sister there, at the direction of his powerful father, who wanted to give him a chance at a respectable life. Now Wajid, once more dictating his fate from afar, has sent Faraz back to Lahore, installing him as head of the Mohalla police station and charging him with a mission: to cover up the violent death of a young girl.


It should be a simple assignment to carry out in a marginalized community, but for the first time in his career, Faraz finds himself unable to follow orders. As the city assails him with a jumble of memories, he cannot stop asking questions or winding through the walled city’s labyrinthine alleyways chasing the secrets—his family’s and his own—that risk shattering his precariously constructed existence.


Profoundly intimate and propulsive, The Return of Faraz Ali is a spellbindingly assured first novel that poses a timeless question: Whom do we choose to protect, and at what price?



Maayan Eitan, Love (Penguin)

Sidik Forfana, Stories from the Tenants Downstairs (Scribner)

Oscar Hokeah, Calling for a Blanket Dance (Algonquin)

Morgan Thomas, Manywhere (Picador)



Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R. F. Kuang

(Harper Voyager)

Book cover of Babel by R.F. Kuang
BABEL by R.F. Kuang

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.


1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation—also known as Babel.


Babel is the world's center for translation and, more importantly, magic. Silver working—the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver bars—has made the British unparalleled in power, as its knowledge serves the Empire’s quest for colonization.


For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide…


Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence?



Travis Baldree, Legends & Lattes (Tor Books)

Nicola Griffith, Spear (Tordotcom)

T. Kingfisher, Nettle & Bone (Tor Books)

Tamsyn Muir, Nona the Ninth (Tordotcom)

Ray Nayler, The Mountain in the Sea (MCD)



We Are a Haunting by Tyriek White

(Astra House)

book cover of we are a haunting by Tyriek White
We Are A Haunting by Tyriek White

A poignant debut for readers of Jesmyn Ward and Jamel Brinkley, We Are a Haunting follows three generations of a working class family and their inherited ghosts: a story of hope and transformation.


In 1980’s Brooklyn, Key is enchanted with her world, glowing with her dreams. A charming and tender doula serving the Black women of her East New York neighborhood, she lives, like her mother, among the departed and learns to speak to and for them. Her untimely death leaves behind her mother Audrey, who is on the verge of losing the public housing apartment they once shared. Colly, Key’s grieving son, soon learns that he too has inherited this sacred gift and begins to slip into the liminal space between the living and the dead on his journey to self-realization.


In the present, an expulsion from school forces Colly across town where, feeling increasingly detached and disenchanted with the condition of his community, he begins to realize that he must, ultimately, be accountable to the place he is from. After college, having forged an understanding of friendship, kinship, community, and how to foster love in places where it seems impossible, Colly returns to East New York to work toward addressing structural neglect and the crumbling blocks of New York City public housing he was born to; discovering a collective path forward from the wreckages of the past.


A supernatural family saga, a searing social critique, and a lyrical and potent account of displaced lives, We Are a Haunting unravels the threads connecting the past, present, and future, and depicts the palpable, breathing essence of the neglected corridors of a pulsing city with pathos and poise.



Elizabeth Acevedo, Family Lore (HarperCollins / Ecco)

Christine Byl, Lookout (Deep Vellum / A Strange Object)

Eskor David Johnson, Pay As You Go (McSweeney’s)

Jamila Minnicks, Moonrise Over New Jessup (Hachette / Algonquin Books)

Tracey Rose Peyton, Night Wherever We Go (HarperCollins / Ecco)

Esther Yi, Y/N (Astra House)



Don’t Know Tough by Eli Cranor

(Soho Crime)


book cover of don't know tough by eli cranor
Don't Know Tough, by Eli Cranor

In Denton, Arkansas, the fate of the high school football team rests on the shoulders of Billy Lowe, a volatile but talented running back. Billy comes from an extremely troubled home: a trailer park where he is terrorized by his mother’s abusive boyfriend. Billy takes out his anger on the field, but when his savagery crosses a line, he faces suspension.


Without Billy Lowe, the Denton Pirates can kiss their playoff bid goodbye. But the head coach, Trent Powers, who just moved from California with his wife and two children for this job, has more than just his paycheck riding on Billy’s bad behavior. As a born-again Christian, Trent feels a divine calling to save Billy—save him from his circumstances, and save his soul.


Then Billy’s abuser is found murdered in the Lowe family trailer, and all evidence points toward Billy. Now nothing can stop an explosive chain of violence that could tear the whole town apart on the eve of the playoffs.



Erin E. Adams, Jackal (Bantam)

Ramona Emerson, Shutter (Soho Crime)

Katie Gutierrez, More Than You’ll Ever Know (William Morrow & Company)

Grace D. Li, Portrait of a Thief (Tiny Reparations Books)



Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty

(Tin House Books)


book cover of night of the living rez by Morgan Talty
Night of The Living Rez, by Morgan Talty

Set in a Native community in Maine, Night of the Living Rez is a riveting debut collection about what it means to be Penobscot in the twenty-first century and what it means to live, to survive, and to persevere after tragedy.


In twelve striking, luminescent stories, author Morgan Talty―with searing humor, abiding compassion, and deep insight―breathes life into tales of family and a community as they struggle with a painful past and an uncertain future. A boy unearths a jar that holds an old curse, which sets into motion his family’s unraveling; a man, while trying to swindle some pot from a dealer, discovers a friend passed out in the woods, his hair frozen into the snow; a grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s projects the past onto her grandson; and two friends, inspired by Antiques Roadshow, attempt to rob the tribal museum for valuable root clubs.


A collection that examines the consequences and merits of inheritance, Night of the Living Rez is an unforgettable portrayal of an Indigenous community and marks the arrival of a standout talent in contemporary fiction.



Sindya Bhanoo, Seeking Fortune Elsewhere (Catapult)

Meron Hadero, A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times (Restless Books)

Morgan Thomas, Manywhere (Picador)

Jasmine Sawers, The Anchored World (Rose Metal Press)



The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

cover of the book of goose by yiyun li
The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li

Fabienne is dead. Her childhood best friend, Agnès, receives the news in America, far from the French countryside where the two girls were raised―the place that Fabienne helped Agnès escape ten years ago. Now Agnès is free to tell her story.


As children in a war-ravaged backwater town, they’d built a private world, invisible to everyone but themselves―until Fabienne hatched the plan that would change everything, launching Agnès on an epic trajectory through fame, fortune, and terrible loss.



Jonathan Escoffery, If I Survive You (MCD)

Laura Warrell, Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm (Pantheon)

Dione Irving, The Islands (Catapult)

Kathryn Harlan, Fruiting Bodies (W. W. Norton & Company)



The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride


book cover of the heaven and earth grocery store by james mcbride
The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride

In 1972, when workers in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, were digging the foundations for a new development, the last thing they expected to find was a skeleton at the bottom of a well. Who the skeleton was and how it got there were two of the long-held secrets kept by the residents of Chicken Hill, the dilapidated neighborhood where immigrant Jews and African Americans lived side by side and shared ambitions and sorrows. Chicken Hill was where Moshe and Chona Ludlow lived when Moshe integrated his theater and where Chona ran the Heaven & Earth Grocery Store. When the state came looking for a deaf boy to institutionalize him, it was Chona and Nate Timblin, the Black janitor at Moshe’s theater and the unofficial leader of the Black community on Chicken Hill, who worked together to keep the boy safe.


As these characters’ stories overlap and deepen, it becomes clear how much the people who live on the margins of white, Christian America struggle and what they must do to survive. When the truth is finally revealed about what happened on Chicken Hill and the part the town’s white establishment played in it, McBride shows us that even in dark times, it is love and community—heaven and earth—that sustain us.


Bringing his masterly storytelling skills and his deep faith in humanity to The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store, James McBride has written a novel as compassionate as Deacon King Kong and as inventive as The Good Lord Bird.



Jamel Brinkley, Witness (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Elanor Catton, Birnam Wood (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Kelly Link, White Cat, Black Dog (Random House)

Paul Murray, The Bee Sting (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Jesmyn Ward, Let Us Descend (Scribner)



Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov, tr. from Bulgarian by Angela Rodel



book cover of time shelter by georgi gospodinov
Time Shelter, by Georgi Gospodinov

In Time Shelter, an enigmatic flâneur named Gaustine opens a ‘clinic for the past’ that offers a promising treatment for Alzheimer’s sufferers: each floor reproduces a decade in minute detail, transporting patients back in time.


As Gaustine’s assistant, the unnamed narrator is tasked with collecting the flotsam and jetsam of the past, from 1960s furniture and 1940s shirt buttons to scents and even afternoon light. But as the rooms become more convincing, an increasing number of healthy people seek out the clinic as a ‘time shelter’, hoping to escape from the horrors of our present – a development that results in an unexpected conundrum when the past begins to invade the present.



Boulder by Eva Baltasar, tr. from Spanish by Julia Sanches (And Other Stories)

Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan, tr. from Korean by Chi-Young Kim (Archipelago)

The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Condé, tr. from French by (World Editions)

Standing Heavy by GauZ’, tr. from French by Frank Wynne (Biblioasis)

Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel, tr. from Spanish by Rosalind Harvey (Bloomsbury)



Bliss Montage by Ling Ma

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Cover of bliss montage by ling ma
Bliss Montage by Ling Ma

What happens when fantasy tears the screen of the everyday to wake us up? Could that waking be our end?


In Bliss Montage, Ling Ma brings us eight wildly different tales of people making their way through the madness and reality of our collective delusions: love and loneliness, connection and possession, friendship, motherhood, the idea of home. A woman lives in a house with all her ex-boyfriends. A toxic friendship grows up around a drug that makes you invisible. An ancient ritual might heal you of anything―if you bury yourself alive.



Percival Everett, Dr No (Graywolf)

Jon Fosse with Damion Searls (trans.), A New Name (Transit Books)

Mieko Kawakami with Sam Bett and David Boyd (trans.), All the Lovers in the Night (Europa Editions)

Namwali Serpell, The Furrows (Hogarth)



Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver


cover photo of demon copperhead by barbara kingsolver
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. Relayed in his own unsparing voice, Demon braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.


Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.



Jacqueline Crooks, Fire Rush (Viking)

Louise Kennedy, Trespasses (Riverhead)

Priscilla Morris, Black Butterflies (Knopf)

Maggie O’Farrell, The Marriage Portrait (Knopf)

Laline Paull, Pod (Pegasus)



The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka



cover for the swimmers by julie otsuka
The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka

The swimmers are unknown to one another except through their private routines (slow lane, medium lane, fast lane) and the solace each takes in their morning or afternoon laps. But when a crack appears at the bottom of the pool, they are cast out into an unforgiving world without comfort or relief.


One of these swimmers is Alice, who is slowly losing her memory. For Alice, the pool was a final stand against the darkness of her encroaching dementia. Without the fellowship of other swimmers and the routine of her daily laps she is plunged into dislocation and chaos, swept into memories of her childhood and the Japanese American incarceration camp in which she spent the war. Alice's estranged daughter, reentering her mother's life too late, witnesses her stark and devastating decline.



David Santos Donaldson, Greenland (Amistad Press)

Morgan Talty, Night of the Living Rez (Tin House Books)



Solenoid by Mircea Cărtărescu, tr. Sean Cotter

(Deep Vellum)

book cover of Solenoid by Mircea Cărtărescu
Solenoid by Mircea Cărtărescu

Based on Cărtărescu's own experience as a high school teacher, Solenoid begins with the mundane details of a diarist's life and quickly spirals into a philosophical account of life, history, philosophy, and mathematics. The novel is grounded in the reality of Romania in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including frightening health care, the absurdities of the education system, and the misery of family life, while on a broad scale Solenoid's investigations of other universes, dimensions, and timelines attempt to reconcile the realms of life and art. The text includes sequences in a tuberculosis preventorium, encounters with an anti-death protest movement, a society of dream investigators, and an extended visit to the miniscule world of dust mites living on a microscope slide. One character asks another: When you rush into the burning building, will you save the newborn or the artwork?



Anna Dorn, Exalted (Unnamed Press)

James Hannaham, Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta (Little, Brown and Company)

Jamil Jan Kochai, The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories (Viking)

Fernanda Melchor (translated from Spanish by Sophie Hughes), Paradais (New Directions)



Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher

(Tor Books)


book cover of nettle and bone by t kingfisher
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher

This isn't the kind of fairy tale where the princess marries a prince.


It's the one where she kills him.


Marra ― a shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter ― is relieved not to be married off for the sake of her parents’ throne. Her older sister wasn’t so fortunate though, and her royal husband is as abusive as he is powerful. From the safety of the convent, Marra wonders who will come to her sister’s rescue and put a stop to this. But after years of watching their families and kingdoms pretend all is well, Marra realizes if any hero is coming, it will have to be Marra herself.


If Marra can complete three impossible tasks, a witch will grant her the tools she needs. But, as is the way in stories of princes and the impossible, these tasks are only the beginning of Marra’s strange and enchanting journey to save her sister and topple a throne.



John Scalzi, The Kaiju Preservation Society (Tor Books)

Travis Baldree, Legends & Lattes (Tor Books)

Tamsyn Muir, Nona the Ninth (Tordotcom)

Silvia Moreno-Garcia, The Daughter of Doctor Moreau (Del Rey Books)

Mary Robinette Kowal, The Spare Man (Tor Books)



Prophet Song by Paul Lynch

(Atlantic Monthly Press)


book cover of prophet song by paul lynch
Prophet Song by Paul Lynch

On a dark, wet evening in Dublin, scientist and mother-of-four Eilish Stack answers her front door to find two officers from Ireland’s newly formed secret police on her step. They have arrived to interrogate her husband, a trade unionist.


Ireland is falling apart, caught in the grip of a government turning towards tyranny. As the life she knows and the ones she loves disappear before her eyes, Eilish must contend with the dystopian logic of her new, unraveling country. How far will she go to save her family? And what—or who—is she willing to leave behind?


The winner of the Booker Prize 2023, Prophet Song presents a terrifying and shocking vision of a country sliding into authoritarianism and a deeply human portrait of a mother’s fight to hold her family together.



Sarah Bernstein, Study for Obedience (Knopf Canada)

Jonathan Escoffery, If I Survive You (MCD)

Paul Harding, This Other Eden (W. W. Norton & Company)

Chetna Maroo, Western Lane (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Paul Murray, The Bee Sting (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)



Trust by Hernan Diaz



book cover of Trust by hernan diaz
Trust by Hernan Diaz

Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth—all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. But at what cost have they acquired their immense fortune? This is the mystery at the center of Bonds, a successful 1937 novel that all of New York seems to have read. Yet there are other versions of this tale of privilege and deceit.

    Hernan Diaz’s TRUST elegantly puts these competing narratives into conversation with one another—and in tension with the perspective of one woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction. The result is a novel that spans over a century and becomes more exhilarating with each new revelation.

    At once an immersive story and a brilliant literary puzzle, TRUST engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the deceptions that often live at the heart of personal relationships, the reality-warping force of capital, and the ease with which power can manipulate facts.


Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver



Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. Relayed in his own unsparing voice, Demon braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.


Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.



Vauhini Vara, The Immortal King Rao (W. W. Norton & Company)



Marzahn, Mon Amour by Katja Oskamp, trans. by Jo Heinrich

(Peirene Press)


book cover of Marzahn, mon amour
Marzahn, Mon Amour by Katja Oskamp, Translated by Jo Heinreich

A woman approaching the ‘invisible years’ of middle age abandons her failing writing career to retrain as a chiropodist in the suburb of Marzahn, once the GDR’s largest prefabricated housing estate, on the outskirts of Berlin. From her intimate vantage point at the foot of the clinic chair, she keenly observes her clients and co-workers, delving into their personal histories.


Each story stands alone as a beautifully crafted vignette, told with humour and poignancy; together they form a nuanced and tender portrait of a community.



Anthony Doerr, Cloud Cuckoo Land (Scribner)

Kim Thúy (translated from French by Sheila Fischman), Em (Blackstone)

Ivana Sajko (translated from Croatian by Mima Simic), Love Novel (Biblioasis)

Fernanda Melchor (translated from Spanish by Sophie Hughes), Paradais (New Directions)

Percival Everett, The Trees (Graywolf)



Blackouts by Justin Torres

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)


book cover of Blackouts by justin torres
Blackouts by Justin Torres

Out in the desert in a place called the Palace, a young man tends to a dying soul, someone he once knew briefly but who has haunted the edges of his life: Juan Gay. Playful raconteur, child lost and found and lost, guardian of the institutionalized, Juan has a project to pass along, one built around a true artifact of a book―Sex Variants: A Study of Homosexual Patterns―and its devastating history. This book contains accounts collected in the early twentieth century from queer subjects by a queer researcher, Jan Gay, whose groundbreaking work was then co-opted by a committee, her name buried. The voices of these subjects have been filtered, muted, but it is possible to hear them from within and beyond the text, which, in Juan’s tattered volumes, has been redacted with black marker on nearly every page. As Juan waits for his end, he and the narrator recount for each other moments of joy and oblivion; they resurrect loves, lives, mothers, fathers, minor heroes. In telling their own stories and the story of the book, they resist the ravages of memory and time. The past is with us, beside us, ahead of us; what are we to create from its gaps and erasures?



Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Chain-Gang All-Stars (Pantheon)

Aaliyah Bilal, Temple Folk (Simon & Schuster)

Paul Harding, This Other Eden (W. W. Norton & Company)

Hanna Pylväinen, The End of Drum-Time (Henry Holt & Company)


NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez


Book cover of Take my hand by Dolen Perkins-valdez
Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Montgomery, Alabama, 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend intends to make a difference, especially in her African American community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she hopes to help women shape their destinies, to make their own choices for their lives and bodies.


But when her first week on the job takes her along a dusty country road to a worn-down one-room cabin, Civil is shocked to learn that her new patients, Erica and India, are children—just eleven and thirteen years old. Neither of the Williams sisters has even kissed a boy, but they are poor and Black, and for those handling the family’s welfare benefits, that’s reason enough to have the girls on birth control. As Civil grapples with her role, she takes India, Erica, and their family into her heart. Until one day she arrives at their door to learn the unthinkable has happened, and nothing will ever be the same for any of them.


Decades later, with her daughter grown and a long career in her wake, Dr. Civil Townsend is ready to retire, to find her peace, and to leave the past behind. But there are people and stories that refuse to be forgotten. That must not be forgotten.


Because history repeats what we don’t remember.



Kai Harris, What the Fireflies Knew (Tiny Reparations Books)

Toni Ann Johnson, Light Skin Gone to Waste (University of Georgia Press)

Edited by Sheree Renée Thomas, Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction (Tordotcom)

Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes, The Keeper (Harry N. Abrams)

Akwaeke Emezi, You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty (Washington Square Press)



The Nobel Prize in Literature 2023 is awarded to the Norwegian author Jon Fosse, “for his innovative plays and prose which give voice to the unsayable.”

photo of nobel prize winner jon fosse
Nobel Prize Winner Jon Fosse

His immense oeuvre written in Norwegian Nynorsk and spanning a variety of genres consists of a wealth of plays, novels, poetry collections, essays, children’s books and translations. While he is today one of the most widely performed playwrights in the world, he has also become increasingly recognized for his prose.

*Descriptions from Amazon

Cully Perlman is an editor. To contact him about your novel, email him at

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