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The National Book Foundation announced its 2017 long list of nominees late last week, honoring the year’s best writing in fiction, nonfiction and poetry.
The foundation’s mission is to “celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of great writing in America.”
In March 1950, a group of writers, editors and critics met in New York City for the first annual National Book Awards. The group awarded William Carlos Williams with the first poetry prize for his work, “Paterson: Book III and Selected Poems.”
This year, the foundation named a number of nominees who wrote essays for the Newshour, including novelists Charmaine Craig and Eliot Ackerman, and short story author Carmen Maria Machado. Watch those essays on reading, fear and love below:
Charmaine Craig speaks about the importance of engaging with literature that challenges our ways of thinking, moving beyond books that we can find “relatable” or “likeable” to explore the unfamiliar.
“Would I rather people like my novel, or be affected by it, finally? To be moved, or affected by a piece of literature isn’t necessarily to see ourselves reflected in it, or to like everything about it…if we open ourselves to such a piece of literature…that it tentatively describes other human beings, with all their passions, foibles, and insights, we might find it opening itself to us, in turn. We might even feel something like love emanating from its pages.”
Dark at the Crossing
Eliot Ackerman talks about choosing to live without fear with his family in Istanbul after the fourth suicide bombing hit the city in 2016.
“The longer I stay in Istanbul the more I realize the education I’m giving my children is not so much cultural, but moral. It’s about teaching them to live without fear. And that is a choice, but not an easy one.”
MORE: Watch Eliot discuss his novel “Dark at the Crossing” on the Newshour
Carmen Maria Machado
Her Body and Other Parties: Stories
Carmen Maria Machado speaks about moving on with her engagement after hearing her parents would be getting divorced after thirty-one years.
“I realized I had been given a gift. That my adult self had a perspective that my teenage self would have never been able to conjure. That you have to have models of successes and failures to try to make something work.”
The National Book Foundation will announce the next round of finalists on October 4th, and the winners on November 15th.
Layla Quran is a general assignment producer for PBS NewsHour. She was previously a foreign affairs reporter and producer.
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