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National Book Award for Fiction

Presented each year by the National Book Foundation, the National Book Award for Fiction is one of the most prestigious literary awards an American author can win. The award was first presented in 1950, and there are four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature. To be considered for nomination, the submissions may be of either full-length novels or collections of short stories/essays.

There are twenty judges who are divided into groups of five who determine the winners of each category. While the judges were originally composed only of published writers, the National Book Foundation decided in 2013 to open up the judging positions to other experts in the literary field, including critics, booksellers, and librarians.

The winner of the first National Book Award for Fiction was author Nelson Algren for his novel The Man with the Golden Arm. Many of the National Book Award for Fiction winners are some of the most influential writers of American literature, including William Faulkner, Norman Mailer, and Lillian Hellman.

The top twenty finalists each receive a prize of $1,000, and the winners of the four main categories receive $10,000. Needless to say, the winning authors go on to enjoy increased sales and often rise to the top of best-seller?s lists.

2011 Winner

Salvage the Bones By Jesmyn Ward

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD 2011A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. He's a hard drinker, largely absent, and it isn't often he worri... read more


2010 Winner

Lord Of Misrule By Jaimy Gordon

NATIONAL BESTSELLER National Book Award Winner PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist Jaimy Gordon's third novel, Bogeywoman was on the Los Angeles Times list of Best Books for 2000. Her second novel, She Drove Without Stopping , brought her an Academy-... read more


2009 Winner

Let the Great World Spin

Let the Great World Spin By Colum McCann

Colum McCann is an Irish writer whose novels include Songdogs, This Side of Brightness, Dancer, Zoli and Let the Great World Spin . His fiction has been published in 30 languages.  His book, Let The Great World Spin , received the 2009 National... read more


2002 Winner

Three Junes

Three Junes By Julia Glass

Julia Glass is an American novelist and a painter. She was born in Boston, grew up in Lincoln, Massachusetts, attended Concord Academy and graduated from Yale. Her novel, Three Junes , won the National Book Award in 2002. This cleverly constructed ... read more


2001 Winner

The Corrections, The

The Corrections, The By Jonathan Franzen

Jonathan Franzen is an American novelist and essayist. This novel, The Corrections, is the winner of the National Book Awards for the year 2001. The book has been described as having substantial breadth and well worth reading. It is centered upon ... read more


2000 Winner

In America

In America By Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag was an American author, literary theorist, essayist and political activist. Her novel, In America was the 2000 winner of the National Book Awards. This fascinating exploration into the lives of a group of artistic and intellectual Pol... read more


1999 Winner

Waiting

Waiting By Ha Jin

Jīn Xuěfēi is a contemporary Chinese-American writer using the pen name Ha Jin. He was born in Liaoning, China. The novel, Waiting , won the National Book Awards in 1999. This moving and deeply ironic novel centers on the lives of three people. ... read more


1998 Winner

Charming Billy

Charming Billy By Alice McDermott

Alice McDermott is a novelist and short story writer who won the national Book Award for Fiction in 1998 with her perceptive novel, Charming Billy . In it, Billy Lynch has just passed away, and as forty-seven of his best friends and family gather; ... read more


1997 Winner

Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain By Charles Frazier

Charles Frazier, born in 1950, is an award-winning American historical novelist. His debut novel, Cold Mountain won the National Book Award in 1997. Utilizing the historical content of the Civil War, his novel explores social class transformation ... read more


1996 Winner

Ship Fever

Ship Fever By Andrea Barrett

Andrea Barrett, born in 1954, is an American novelist, and short story writer. Barrett was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Her book, Ship Fever won the National Book Award in 1996. Barrett typically writes historical fiction, and this is one of her... read more


1995 Winner

Sabbath's Theater

Sabbath's Theater By Philip Roth

Philip Milton Roth is an American novelist. Roth became one of the most honored authors of his generation. In this 1995 winner of the National Book Awards, Mickey Sabbath is a lecherous, unproductive former puppeteer with a strong inclination toward... read more


1994 Winner

A Frolic Of His Own

A Frolic Of His Own By William Gaddis

A Frolic of His Own is a novel by William Gaddis. Published in 1994 by Poseidon Press, A Frolic of His Own was Gaddis's fourth novel. It received the American Book Award and the National Book Award in 1994. The title comes from the decision in Jo... read more


1994 Winner

The Stone Diaries

The Stone Diaries By Carol Shields

The Stone Diaries is a 1993 award winning novel by Carol Shields. It is the fictional autobiography about the life of Daisy Goodwill Flett, a seemingly ordinary woman whose life is marked by death and loss from the beginning, when her mother dies dur... read more


1993 Winner

The Shipping News

The Shipping News By Proulx E Annie

Edna Annie Proulx is an American journalist and author. Her second novel, The Shipping News , won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for fiction in 1994. The novel centers on Quoyle, a third-rate hack journalist who lives an... read more


1992 Winner

All the Pretty Horses

All the Pretty Horses By Cormac McCarthy

Cormac McCarthy is an American novelist and playwright. He has also written plays and screenplays. This novel, All The Pretty Horses , won the National Book Award in 1992. The story reads like a Western novel, but is set in 1949 and revolves around... read more


1991 Winner

Mating

Mating By Norman Rush

Norman Rush is an American novelist whose introspective novels and short stories are set in Botswana in the 1980s. His novel, Mating , was chosen for the National Book Award in 1991. The unnamed narrator of this dazzlingly expansive novel is an obs... read more


1990 Winner

Middle Passage

Middle Passage By Johnson Charles

Charles R. Johnson is an American scholar and author of novels, short stories, and essays. His 1990 winner of the national Book Awards, Middle Passage , is a historical novel set in 1830. It is focused on the final voyage of an illegal American sla... read more


1989 Winner

Spartina

Spartina By John Casey

John D. Casey is an American novelist and translator born in Massachusetts, graduated from Harvard. His novel, Spartina , was awarded the National Book Award in 1989. His story is focused on a man, Dick Pierce, who is obsessed with an unfinished bo... read more


1988 Winner

Paris Trout

Paris Trout By Pete Dexter

Pete Dexter is an American novelist. He was a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News and The Sacramento Bee, and syndicated to many newspapers such as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He began writing fiction after a life-changing incident in 1981... read more


1987 Winner

Paco's Story

Paco's Story By Larry Heinemann

Larry Heinemann is an American novelist.  His body of work, which includes three novels and a memoir, is primarily concerned with the Vietnam War. His novel, Paco’s Story was the winner of the National Book Awards in 1987. The story chronicles ... read more


1986 Winner

World's Fair

World's Fair By E L Doctorow

Edgar Lawrence Doctorow was born in the Bronx, New York City, the son of second-generation Americans of Russian Jewish descent and is an American author. World’s Fair was the 1986 recipient of the National Book Award. In this wonderfully descrip... read more


1985 Winner

White Noise

White Noise By Don Delillo

Don DeLillo is an American author, playwright, and essayist. His novel, White Noise won the National Book Award in 1985. The book is essentially about America’s fear of death, but touches upon almost every essence of modern culture as well. It t... read more


1984 Winner

Victory Over Japan

Victory Over Japan By Ellen Gilchrist

Ellen Gilchrist is an American novelist, short story writer, philosopher, and poet. Her novel, Victory over Japan was the 1984 winner of the Nation Book Awards. This collection of 14 short stories encompasses an unforgettable group of enchanting S... read more


1983 Winner

The Color Purple

The Color Purple By Alice Walker

The Color Purple is an acclaimed epistolary novel by American author Alice Walker. Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, this collection of letters weaves an intricate mosaic of women joined by their love for each other, the men who abuse them, and ... read more


1982 Winner

Rabbit Is Rich

Rabbit Is Rich By John Updike

Rabbit Is Rich is a 1981 novel by John Updike. It is the third novel of the four-part series which begins with Rabbit, Run and Rabbit Redux, and concludes with Rabbit At Rest. There is also a related 2001 novella, Rabbit Remembered. Rabbit Is Rich wa... read more


1981 Winner

Plains Song

Plains Song By Wright Morris

Wright Marion Morris was an American novelist, photographer, and essayist. This 1981 National Book Award winner links three generations of late 1800’s Midwestern women to a form of unison singing in unmeasured time known as plainsong. The novel be... read more


1980 Winner

Sophie's Choice

Sophie's Choice By William Styron

William Clark Styron, Jr. was an American novelist and essayist. He won the National Book Award in 1980 for his novel, Sophie’s Choice . The novel opens with Stingo, the narrator, who moved to New York to follow the ambition of becoming a writer.... read more


1979 Winner

Going After Cacciato

Going After Cacciato By Tim O'Brien

Going After Cacciato is a war novel written by author Tim O'Brien and winner of the National Book Award for fiction in 1979. This complex novel is set during the Vietnam War and is told from the point of view of the protagonist, Paul Berlin. The ... read more


1977 Winner

The Spectator Bird

The Spectator Bird By Wallace Stegner

Wallace Earle Stegner was an American historian, novelist, short story writer, and environmentalist. His novel, The Spectator Bird , won the National Book Award in 1977. The main character, Joe Allston, is seventy years old, living with his wife ... read more


1976 Winner

Jr

Jr By William Gaddis

William Thomas Gaddis, Jr.  was an American novelist. He wrote five novels, two of which won National Book Awards. JR won the National Book Award in 1976. This ingenious, thought-provoking book is written entirely without the use of chapters. The... read more


1975 Winner

The Hair Of Harold Roux

The Hair Of Harold Roux By Thomas Williams

Thomas Williams was an American writer. He worked as a writer and teacher at the University of New Hampshire, and is the author of seven novels. The winner of the National Book Awards in 1975, The Hair Of Harold Roux , is written as a novel-within-... read more


1975 Winner

Dog Soldiers

Dog Soldiers By Robert Stone

Robert Stone is an American novelist. His work is typically characterized by psychological complexity, political concerns, and dark humor. The novel, Dog Soldiers , won the National Book Award for fiction in 1975. It is considered an action-thrille... read more


1974 Winner

Gravity's Rainbow

Gravity's Rainbow By Thomas Pynchon

Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. is an American novelist. TIME Magazine included the novel in its "All-Time 100 Greatest Novels," a list of the best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. This novel; Gravity’s Rainbow is a fabulous work of hy... read more


1974 Winner

A Crown Of Feathers and Other Stories

A Crown Of Feathers and Other Stories By Isaac Bashevis Singer

I saac Bashevis Singer was an author noted for his short stories. He was one of the leading figures in the Yiddish literary movement, and received the Nobel Prize in literature in 1978. His novel, A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories won the Nati... read more


1973 Winner

Augustus By John Williams

John Williams (1922-1994) was born and raised in northeast Texas. He published two volumes of poetry and two other novels, Butcher's Crossing and Stoner . In the past year, Stoner has become an international best seller. Both novels are availa... read more


1973 Winner

Chimera

Chimera By John Barth

John Simmons Barth (born May 27, 1930) is an American novelist and short-story writer. His novel, Chimera , was the recipient of the National Book Award in 1973. The novel is a fabulous post-modern retelling of three famous myths. The first, the D... read more


1971 Winner

Mr Sammler's Planet

Mr Sammler's Planet By Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born American writer. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts. Mr. Sammler’s Planet was the 1971 recipient of the National ... read more


1970 Winner

Them

Them By Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates is an American author born in 1938. Her novel, Them , was chosen as a National Book Award winner in 1970. The story is set in the turbulent ‘60’s and is Maureen Wendall’s struggle to survive and rise above the poverty and so... read more


1969 Winner

Steps

Steps By Jerzy Kosinski

Jerzy Kosiński was an award-winning Polish-American novelist. His novel, Steps , was the 1969 winner of the National Book Awards. This novel is comprised of a series of loosely connected vignettes. The book is meant to be shocking and brought the ... read more


1968 Winner

The Eighth Day

The Eighth Day By Thornton Wilder

Thornton Niven Wilder was an American playwright and novelist. He received three Pulitzer Prizes and won the National Book Award in 1968 for his famous novel, The Eighth Day . The story is set in a mining town in southern Illinois in the early 1900... read more


1967 Winner

The Fixer

The Fixer By Bernard Malamud

Bernard Malamud was born in Brooklyn, New York, and was an author of novels and short stories. His novel, The Eighth Day was the winner of the National Book Awards as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1967. In this fictionalized account of... read more


1966 Winner

The Collected Stories Of Katherine Anne Porter

The Collected Stories Of Katherine Anne Porter By Katherine Anne Porter

Katherine Anne Porter born as Callie Russell Porter in Indian Creek, Texas, was the fourth of five children of Harrison Boone Porter and Alice Porter. Her family tree can be traced back to American frontiersman Daniel Boone. She was a Pulitzer Prize... read more


1965 Winner

Herzog

Herzog By Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born American writer. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts. His novel, Herzog, was the 1965 winner of the National Book Award... read more


1964 Winner

The Centaur

The Centaur By John Updike

John Hoyer Updike was an American novelist, poet, short story writer, art critic, and literary critic. His novel, The Centaur, won the National Book Award in 1964. It is the story of George Caldwell, an aging, self-deprecating high school teacher an... read more


1963 Winner

Morte D'Urban

Morte D'Urban By J F Powers

J. F. Powers was a Roman Catholic American novelist and short-story writer who often drew his inspiration from developments in the Catholic Church, and was known for his studies of Midwestern Catholic priests. His novel, Morte D’Urbane, won the Na... read more


1962 Winner

The Moviegoer

The Moviegoer By Walker Percy

The Moviegoer was published in 1961 by Walker Percy. This novel tells the story of Binx Bolling, a young businessman in New Orleans after the Korean war who feels alienated from his own life. His life is full of daydreams, and he tends to find more ... read more


1961 Winner

The Waters Of Kronos By Conrad Richter

Conrad Michael Richter was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist whose work focuses on life along the American frontier. His novel, The Waters of Kronos, won the National Book Award in 1961. The novel is based on Richter's Pennsylvania childhoo... read more


1960 Winner

Goodbye Columbus

Goodbye Columbus By Philip Roth

Goodbye, Columbus (1959) is the title of the first book published by the American novelist Philip Roth, a collection of six stories. In addition to its title novella, set in New Jersey, Goodbye, Columbus contains the five short stories "The Conv... read more


1959 Winner

The Magic Barrel

The Magic Barrel By Bernard Malamud

Bernard Malamud was an author of novels and short stories. His novel, The Magic Barrel, won the National Book Award in 1959. The novel is comprised of thirteen stories, most taking place in dingy streets in New York, and others in Italy. The book ha... read more


1958 Winner

The Wapshot Chronicle

The Wapshot Chronicle By John Cheever

John William Cheever was an American novelist and short story writer. His novel, The Wapshot Chronicle, won the National Book Award in 1958. The story is the family saga of the Wapshot family. Captain Leander Wapshot and his sons, Coverly and Moses,... read more


1957 Winner

The Field Of Vision

The Field Of Vision By Wright Morris

Wright Marion Morris was an American novelist, photographer, and essayist. His novel, The Field Of Vision, won the National Book Award in 1957. The book’s focus is a family from Nebraska, now on vacation in Mexico. The family has been in pursuit o... read more


1956 Winner

Ten North Frederick By John O'Hara

John Henry O'Hara was an American writer. O'Hara was a keen observer of social status and class differences, and wrote frequently about the socially ambitious. His novel, Ten North Frederick, won the National Book Award in 1956. This exemplary novel... read more


1955 Winner

A Fable

A Fable By William Faulkner

A Fable is a novel written in 1954 by the American author William Faulkner, which won him both the Pulitzer prize and the National Book Award in 1955. Despite these recognitions, however, the novel received mixed critical reviews and a reputation as ... read more


1954 Winner

The Adventures Of Augie March

The Adventures Of Augie March By Saul Bellow

The Adventures of Augie March (1953) is a novel by Saul Bellow. It centers on the eponymous character who grows up during the Great Depression. This picaresque novel is an example of bildungsroman, tracing the development of an individual through a s... read more


1953 Winner

Invisible Man

Invisible Man By Ralph Ellison

Even though Ralph Ellison's novel Invisible Man is sometimes featured on banned books lists, it remains a consistent staple on many high school reading curriculums. In the novel, Ellison laments the feeling of hopelessness and invisibility that ma... read more


1952 Winner

From Here To Eternity

From Here To Eternity By James Jones

James Ramon Jones was an American author known for his explorations of World War II and its aftermath. His novel, From Here to Eternity, won the Nation Book Award in 1952. This action-drama novel is set in the 1930’s in Hawaii, and culminates in t... read more


1951 Winner

Collected Stories Of William Faulkner

Collected Stories Of William Faulkner By William Faulkner

William Cuthbert Faulkner was a Nobel Prize-winning American novelist and short story writer. He was also a published poet and an occasional screenwriter. His novel, The Collected Stories of William Faulkner, won the National Book Award in 1951. Th... read more


1950 Winner

The Man With the Golden Arm

The Man With the Golden Arm By Nelson Algren

Nelson Algren was an American writer. He wrote his first story in 1933 while he was in Texas working at a gas station. Before returning home one evening, he was caught stealing a typewriter from an abandoned classroom. For this, he spent nearly five... read more


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