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Our Picks of the 2018 Literary Awards Season

by | November 13

We’re right in the middle of the 2018 literary award season! All of us are holding our breaths, excited to hear who will win the National Book Awards this year, on November 14th, 2018.

Amid all the longlists and the shortlists, the finalists and the winners, we know how confusing it can get for even the most committed reader. So, we’ve narrowed down the selection for you guys. Here are our fiction and nonfiction prize-winning picks of the year, across awards and categories.

Victoire

Victoire

by Maryse Condé

From the 2018 New Academy Prize in Literature, this year’s alternative to the scandalously cancelled Nobel Prize, comes the winner Victoire: My Mother’s Mother by Maryse Condé. In this historical novel, Condé brings to life a relatively obscure era, as she fictionally pieces together the world of her maternal grandmother, exploring Victoire’s life as a cook for a family of white Creoles, in the French Antilles.

Milkman

Milkman

by Anna Burns

Narrated by “middle sister,” Milkman, by Anna Burns, focuses on the daily violence of the protagonist’s world, from the daily realities of her life as a young woman—with her family, her friends, her maybe-boyfriend—to the insidious power of gossip and intense social pressure that permeates the community she lives in. This novel won the 2018 Man Booker Prize.

The Mars Room

The Mars Room

by Rachel Kushner

If you’re looking for a disquieting novel with staying power, then look no further than The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner. In a seedy and seductive voice, Romy Hall recounts how one of her customer’s obsessions led to her two life sentences in prison. It begins in a sketchy San Francisco strip club, and then delves deep into rooted prejudice, poverty, and incarceration. This novel was a finalist for the 2018 Man Booker Prize and longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal.

Florida

Florida

by Lauren Groff

If you do not exactly want to read a novel, but you still love fiction, I recommend Florida by Lauren Groff. This short story collection is a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award in Fiction. From the very domestic to the wild world that waits outside the door—though the characters and circumstances may change—Florida remains the gravitational center and looming presence of this book.

Heads of the Colored People

Heads of the Colored People

by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

In Heads of the Colored People, Nafissa Thompson-Spires reexamines the so-called post-racial era, and grapples with the concept of black identity. Each story looks at the tensions of black citizenship from a different angle, from the ongoing conversations on race and identity, to the vulnerability of the black body. This book is longlisted for the National Book Award and is a Kirkus Prize Finalist.

Heartland

Heartland

by Sarah Smarsh

In terms of nonfiction, I cannot gush enough about Heartland by Sarah Smarsh. This memoir is a finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction, and the Kirkus Prize as well. Smarsh delves into her turbulent childhood in Kansas during the 1980s and 1990s, challenging the reader to better understand the class divide in our country, and realize that poor does not mean lazy or unsmart.

Heavy

Heavy

by Kiese Laymon

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon is shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal and is a finalist for the Kirkus Prize too. In his essays, Laymon recalls his early experiences of sexual violence, his complicated relationship with his mother, and his struggles with his own body weight. Ultimately, Laymon asks his reader, and his country, to confront the consequences of a nation obsessed with progress, but not how we got here.

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Estefania Acquaviva is currently an MFA-Fiction student at Columbia University. She recently graduated from Villanova University with a bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish Literature, with minors in Creative Writing and Business. Although she was born in Quito, Ecuador, she moved to the United States when she was in second grade. Away from her home country, she began to write stories to blend her Spanish and English lingo. Though she left Ecuador at a relatively early age, she never stopped loving the culture of her roots. The more she read, the more she wanted to share her own writing, book reviews, and book suggestions. You can find more of her work at www.estefania-acquaviva.com.