2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (sci-fi) – “The Fifth Season” brings us to the end of the world in three different times, with three orogene women at different stages of life and loss. Their stories begin with the ending of their own worlds. All three narratives are urgent and deftly interwoven to reveal their far-future earth, a world that has buried our own civilization and many others in its lower strata.
2016 Man Booker International Prize Winner: The Vegetarian by Han Kang (fiction) – South Korean writer Han divides a story about strange obsessions and metamorphosis into three parts, each with a distinct voice. An unusual and mesmerizing novel, gracefully written and deeply disturbing.
2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen – A layered immigrant tale told in the wry, confessional voice of a “man of two minds” — and two countries, Vietnam and the United States.
2016 Pulitzer Prize for History: Custer’s Trials: a Life on the Frontier of a New America by T.J. Stiles – A rich and surprising new telling of the journey of the iconic American soldier whose death turns out not to have been the main point of his life.
2016 Pulitzer Prize for Biography: Barbarian Days: a Surfing Life by William Finnegan – A finely crafted memoir of a youthful obsession that has propelled the author through a distinguished writing career.
2016 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction: Black Flags: the Rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick – A deeply reported book of remarkable clarity showing how the flawed rationale for the Iraq War led to the explosive growth of the Islamic State.
2016 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry: Ozone Journal by Peter Balakian – Poems that bear witness to the old losses and tragedies that undergird a global age of danger and uncertainty.
2016 International Dublin Literary Award: Family Life by Akhil Sharma (fiction) – In Sharma’s world, as in Leo Tolstoy’s, unhappy families continue to be unhappy in different ways. A moving story of displacement and of the inevitable adjustments one must make when life circumstances change.
2016 PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction: Toni Morrison
2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction: The Leavers by Lisa Ko
2016 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing: The Secret Game: a Wartime Story of Courage, Change, and Baseball’s Lost Triumph by Scott Ellsworth (non-fiction) – An account of a little-known basketball game in which the opponents played as much against Jim Crow as each other.
2016 PEN Translation Prize: The Complete Stories of Clarice Lispector translated from the Portuguese by Katrina Dodson (fiction) – “Freedom is only what can be conquered”: a welcome, long overdue omnibus collection of the short stories of the great Brazilian literata.