This week, The New Yorker is announcing the longlists for the 2023 National Book Awards. On Wednesday, we presented the lists for Young People’s Literature and Translated Literature. Check back this afternoon for Nonfiction.
“Study of Two Figures (Dr. Seuss / Chrysanthemum-Pearl),” a sequence of poems by Monica Youn, considers the fraught legacy of the children’s-book author Theodor Geisel, or Dr. Seuss. The sequence, which was published in this magazine in 2021, is one of Youn’s “double portraits,” Kevin Young writes, placing a beloved Geisel creation alongside anti-Japanese political cartoons he created during the Second World War. “Youn finds humanity in the inhumane and a poetry in the make-believe world of a child whom Dr. Seuss could only dream of, but was surely writing for.”
Youn’s collection “From From,” in which the sequence appears, is on the longlist for this year’s National Book Award for Poetry. It is one of several contenders to reckon with the violence of imperialist ambitions. Paisley Rekdal’s “West: A Translation” memorializes a Chinese migrant who died by suicide at a detention center in San Francisco. Charif Shanahan’s “Trace Evidence” turns a story about a calamitous bus accident in North Africa into an examination of anti-Blackness and colonialism. Craig Santos Perez’s “from unincorporated territory [åmot]” explores the wounds of the militarization of the western Pacific island of Guåhan, or Guam.
The list was drawn from a total of two hundred and ninety-five submissions from publishers. Youn is the only nominee who has been previously recognized by the National Book Awards; the other nine contenders are being honored for the first time. The full list is below.
John Lee Clark, “How to Communicate”
W. W. Norton & Company
Oliver de la Paz, “The Diaspora Sonnets”
Liveright / W. W. Norton & Company
Annelyse Gelman, “Vexations”
University of Chicago Press
José Olivarez, “Promises of Gold”
Henry Holt & Company / Macmillan Publishers
Craig Santos Perez, “from unincorporated territory [åmot]”
Paisley Rekdal, “West: A Translation”
Copper Canyon Press
Brandon Som, “Tripas”
Georgia Review Books / University of Georgia Press
Charif Shanahan, “Trace Evidence”
Evie Shockley, “suddenly we”
Wesleyan University Press
Monica Youn, “From From”
The judges for the category this year are Rick Barot, whose collection “The Galleons” was long-listed for the National Book Award in 2020; Heid E. Erdrich, a writer from North Dakota; Jonathan Farmer, the author of “That Peculiar Affirmative: On the Social Life of Poems”; Raina J. León, a founding editor of The Acentos Review; and Solmaz Sharif, the author of “Customs” and “Look,” which was a finalist for a National Book Award in 2016. ♦