Press Release

Brooklyn Public Library Announces 2018 Longlist for Fourth Annual Literary Prize

Brooklyn, NY
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Nominated by BPL Librarians, Titles Reflect the Urgent Social and Political Issues of Our Time

The long lists for the 2018 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize for fiction and nonfiction were announced today. The Prize, established in 2015 in collaboration with the Brooklyn Eagles, is selected entirely by librarians and is one of only a few major literary prizes awarded by a public library system.

Drawing on their broad knowledge of literature and contemporary writing, the librarians’ selections represent a wide range of issues, genres, and voices, advancing the Brooklyn Public Library’s mission to bring together the borough’s diverse communities to explore urgent social, political, and artistic issues.

“The range of stories, poetry, memoir, histories, and more nominated for the Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize reflect the adventurous tastes of the most voracious readers in Brooklyn,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library. “Our librarians have curated a list of books that reflect the diversity and daring of our borough.”

In tackling complex social, political, and spiritual questions, the nominees mirror the vast collections of the Library, spanning different experiences, geographies, and generations. 

"The titles on this year's longlists offer readers a lively and diverse range of subjects and perspectives that reflect the vibrancy and complexity of Brooklyn,” said Librarian Mark Daly, Prize committee member. “By putting these books forward for consideration, we hope to spark impassioned conversations and encourage deep reflection as part of our mission to foster engaged communities in our neighborhood libraries." 

The longlists feature works by 13 women and six men, including three debut novels, two books of poetry, a graphic novel, short stories, memoirs, and works of nonfiction. The nominated authors—in both the fiction and nonfiction categories—address the challenges of immigration, race, nationalism, addiction and mental illness, family secrets, and loss in profound, thoughtful, humorous, and sometimes unexpected ways. 


Alphabetical by author last name

  • The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú, Penguin Random House
  • Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay, HarperCollins
  • Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown by Lauren Hilgers, Crown Publishing Group 
  • The Recovering: Intoxication and its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison, Little, Brown 
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, Seal Press
  • Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism in America by Vegas Tenold, Nation Books
  • More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History by Jeanne Theoharis, Beacon Press
  • The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York by Peter Tomasi and Sara DuVall, Abrams ComicArts



Alphabetical by author last name

  • The King Is Always Above the People by Daniel Alarcon, Riverhead Books
  • What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons, Viking (debut novel)
  • Electric Arches by Eve L. Ewing, Haymarket 
  • Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, Grove Atlantic (debut novel)
  • The Answers by Catherine Lacey, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, Graywolf Press
  • The Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan, Tyrant Books
  • Don't Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith, Graywolf Press
  • The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat, Henry Holt and Co. (debut novel)
  • Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang, Penguin Random House: Lenny (debut short story collection)


BPL Vice President of Arts & Culture Jakab Lazlo Orsos, former Director of the PEN World Voices Festival, has collaborated with BPL librarians to shape the current Prize. Following a system-wide call for librarians to submit their nominations, eight librarians representing branches from Sheepshead Bay to Williamsburg, and from Red Hook to Bay Ridge, form the Prize committee. They will receive input from librarians system-wide to determine the short list in mid-September, and the winners for fiction and nonfiction will be selected and announced by the panel in October 2018. 

The Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize was established by the Brooklyn Eagles, a group of young and engaged Brooklynites who are passionate about Brooklyn Public Library and work to engage new patrons, promote the Library as a cultural center, and build a vibrant community around the resources the library offers. The winners of the fiction and non-fiction award will each receive a $5,000 prize at the Brooklyn Classic, the annual fundraising event of the Brooklyn Eagles.

The 2018 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize is generously supported by the Peck Stacpoole Foundation.




  • Fiction: IRL by Tommy Pico (Birds, LLC)
  • Nonfiction: The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein (Liveright Publishing)



  • Fiction: Ways to Disappear by Idra Novey (Little, Brown & Company)
  • Nonfiction: Lockdown on Rikers: Shocking Stories of Abuse and Injustice at New York's Notorious Jail by Mary E. Buser (St. Martin’s Press)



  • Fiction: Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish (Tyrant Books)
  • Nonfiction: The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the Twenty-First Century by DW Gibson (The Overlook Press)


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