Press Release

Brooklyn Public Library Announces 2020 Longlist for Sixth 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 2020 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize were announced today. Drawing on a broad knowledge of traditional literature and contemporary writing, the Prize is one of a few literary awards selected by a panel of librarians.

“The Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize is a testament to the essential work of librarians and writers. In the midst of extreme change and isolation, they help us fathom complex questions and articulate overwhelming feeling; help us connect to each other and our society; and help us imagine where to go from here," said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library. "The 2020 longlist reflects many facets of the painful history with which we are currently grappling, and reminds us that if we want to build a better future, reading is crucial."

The longlists include memoir, history, reportage, essays, novellas, novels, and poetry by veteran and debut authors alike. The staggering breadth of the stories they tell reflect both the library’s varied collection and the diverse population it serves.

Librarians from across the borough submitted 110 titles, published after June 1, 2019, for consideration. A volunteer team of nearly two dozen librarians—specializing in fields ranging from adult literature, business and career services, and historical collections—served on the selection committee. The committee sought books that boldly transcend boundaries to tell previously overlooked stories.

"This year's nominees reflect our commitment to drawing attention to authors who excel at telling powerful truths about challenging subjects, and those who add excitement to our reading with their innovative approaches," said Mark Daly, a librarian at the Business and Career Center and the coordinator for the Literary Prize. "By highlighting these worthy books from the past year, we hope to spark conversation that brings Brooklynites closer together in a challenging time.”


Alphabetical by author last name


America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States

By Erika Lee

Basic Books (Hachette)


A Black Women's History of the United States

By Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross

Beacon Press


Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family

By Robert Kolker

Doubleday (Knopf/Penguin Random House)


Hood Feminism: Notes From the Women That A Movement Forgot

By Mikki Kendall

Viking (Penguin Random House)


How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir

By Saeed Jones

Simon & Schuster


I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl's Notes from the End of the World

By Kai Cheng Thom

Arsenal Pulp Press


The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier

By Ian Urbina

Knopf (Penguin Random House)


Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code

By Ruha Benjamin




Alphabetical by author last name


The Deep

By Rivers Solomon (with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)

Gallery/Saga Press (Simon & Schuster)


Gods of Jade and Shadow

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Del Rey (Random House)


On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

By Ocean Vuong



Patsy: A Novel

By Nicole Dennis-Benn

Liveright (W. W. Norton)


Postcolonial Love Poem

By Natalie Diaz

Graywolf Press


The Starless Sea

By Erin Morgenstern

Doubleday (Knopf)


This is How You Lose The Time War

By Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Gallery/Saga Press (Simon & Schuster)


Weather: A Novel

By Jenny Offill

Knopf (Random House)


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Central Library Facade. Photo by Gregg Richards. Image courtesy Brooklyn Public Library.

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