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First Two Longlists Announced For National Book Awards

Iran -- The Enlightenment of The Greengage Tree
Iran -- The Enlightenment of The Greengage Tree

Stories of voting rights, space exploration and displacement at home are among the young people's literature works that appear on the longlist for the National Book Awards. In the translation category, the 10 nominated books originate everywhere from the Middle East to Scandinavia to Japan.

The lists were announced Wednesday by the National Book Foundation, which presents the awards and will reveal nominees for poetry, nonfiction and fiction later in the week.

In young people's literature, selections included Evette Dionne's “Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box” and John Rocco's “How We Got to the Moon.” Other nominees include “When Stars are Scattered,” by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, based on Mohamed's experiences as a refugee in Kenya; and two books feature stories in verse: Eric Gansworth's “Apple (Skin to the Core)” and Candice Iloh's “Every Body Looking.”

The other works on the young people's literature longlist were Kacen Callender's “King and the Dragonflies,” Traci Chee's “We Are Not Free,” Marcella Pixley's “Trowbridge Road," Gavriel Savit's “The Way Back” and Aiden Thomas' “Cemetery Boys.”

One of the nominees for translated books, Shokoofeh Azar's “The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree,” is on the shortlist for the International Book Prize. Set after the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, the book was originally written in Persian, and the English-language translator is unidentified because of security concerns, according to the publisher Europa Editions. (Azar is a political refugee from Iran who moved to Australia in 2011).

Other nominees include Cho Nam-Joo's bestselling feminist novel “Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982," translated from the Korean by Jamie Chang; and Anja Kampmann's debut novel “High as the Waters Rise,” translated from the German by Anne Posten. Two other works were written in Swedish: Linda Boström Knausgård's “The Helios Disaster,” translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles; and Jonas Hassen Khemiri's “The Family Clause,” translated by Alice Menzies.

Others in the translation category were Fernanda Melchor's “Hurricane Season,” translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes; Yu Miri's “Tokyo Ueno Station,” translated from the Japanese by Morgan Giles; Perumal Murugan's “The Story of a Goat,” translated from the Tamil by N. Kalyan Raman; Pilar Quintana's “The Bitch,” translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman; and Adania Shibli's “Minor Detail,” translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette.

The lists in the five competitive categories will be narrowed to five finalists in each on Oct 6. Winners will be announced Nov. 18.