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Colson Whitehead on fiction longlist for National Book Award

Posted September 15

— Colson Whitehead's "The Underground Railroad," already a favorite of critics, readers and Oprah Winfrey, is on the fiction longlist for the National Book Awards.

Jacqueline Woodson, the winner two years ago for young people's literature, was cited in the fiction category for her first adult novel in 20 years, "Another Brooklyn." She is now the rare writer to have been in contention for fiction and young adult books. Also on the longlist were Adam Haslett's "Imagine Me Gone," Lydia Millett's "Sweet Lamb of Heaven" and debut novelist Garth Greenwell's "What Belongs to You."

All 10 books, announced Thursday by the National Book Foundation, are novels. Story collections, which often have struggled for the same level of literary stature, won the last two National Book Awards for fiction.

Whitehead's novel, in which he imagines that the 19th-century network of escape routes and hiding places for slaves is an actual train, was highly anticipated even before Winfrey picked it for her book club in August and raised it high on best-seller lists. Whitehead has also written such acclaimed works of fiction as "The Intuitionist" and "John Henry Days," but had never been in the running for a National Book Award.

The five remaining works on the longlist are Paulette Jiles' "News of the World," Karan Mahajan's "The Association of Small Bombs," Elizabeth McKenzie's "The Portable Veblen," Brad Watson's "Miss Jane" and Chris Bachelder's "The Throwback Special."

Earlier this week, the book foundation released longlists in young people's literature, poetry and nonfiction, with authors cited including Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, former U.S. poets laureate Rita Dove and Donald Hall, and Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Shortlists of five will come out Oct. 13 and the winners, who will each receive $10,000, will be announced at a Manhattan dinner ceremony on Nov 16. Publishers submitted more than 1,000 books combined for the four competitive categories, voted on by five-member panels of judges, who have included writers, critics, booksellers and others.

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