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National Book Award finalists: story collections, debuts and translations among the 25 titles

Winners of the prestigious literary prize will be announced in Manhattan on Nov. 14.

Jamel Brinkley is a 2018 National Book Award

Jamel Brinkley is a 2018 National Book Award finalist in fiction for his debut story collection, "A Lucky Man" (Graywolf/A Public Space). Photo Credit: Arash Saedinia

A debut collection of stories about African-American men in New York City is among the finalists for the National Book Award in Fiction, announced Wednesday. Jamel Brinkley's "A Lucky Man" follows a group of black boys and men in Brooklyn and the Bronx as they grapple with the challenges of masculinity and racism in daily life.

Other finalists for the fiction award include Lauren Groff, a 2015 finalist, whose new story collection, "Florida," examines various lives in that state. Brandon Hobson's "Where the Dead Sit Talking" is about a 15-year-old Cherokee boy placed in a foster home. Rebecca Makkai's "The Great Believers" looks at the toll of AIDS on a group of gay friends in 1980s Chicago and their survivors. "The Friend" by Sigrid Nunez follows a woman who is unexpectedly left to care for the Great Dane of a friend who has died.

The finalists for the nonfiction award explore contemporary U.S. society and events, as well as history. Adam Winkler's "We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights" looks at how U.S. companies came to have many of the same rights as individuals in American society. Sarah Smarsh's "Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth" examines class issues in her Kansas youth of the 1980s and '90s. The other nonfiction finalists are Colin G. Calloway for "The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation"; Victoria Johnson for "American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic"; and Jeffrey C. Stewart for "The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke."

In addition to the fiction and nonfiction finalists, National Book Award finalists were announced in the categories of poetry, young people's literature and, for the first time, translated literature. A complete list of the 25 finalists can be found at nationalbook.org.

The winners, who will receive $10,000 apiece, are to be announced during a ceremony on Nov. 14 in Manhattan. In addition to the awards in the five categories, Isabel Allende will be presented with the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

The National Book Awards are presented annually by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to celebrate American literature. The awards have been presented annually since 1950, and past winners include Ralph Ellison, Louise Erdrich, Jonathan Franzen, Denis Johnson, Flannery O’Connor, Adrienne Rich, and Jesmyn Ward.

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