The National Book Awards released its list of finalists Wednesday morning, and Coates' book -- which explores issues of race and culture in the form of a heartfelt letter to his son -- is one of five nominees in the nonfiction category.
Others on the nonfiction list include Sally Mann's "Hold Still," Sy Montgomery's "The Soul of an Octopus," Carla Power's "If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran" and Tracy K. Smith's "Ordinary Light."
The fiction finalists are Karen E. Bender's "Refund," Angela Flournoy's "The Turner House," Lauren Groff's "Fates and Furies," Adam Johnson's "Fortune Smiles" and Hanya Yanagihara's "A Little Life."
Though Coates, who recently earned a MacArthur "Genius Award,"
may be the front-runner, he's no sure thing.
Photographer Mann got rave reviews for what The New York Times called an "uncommonly beautiful" memoir
, and Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, was hailed as "powerful" and "evocative" by such publications as the San Francisco Chronicle
and the Guardian
It's the season for book awards. On Tuesday, the Man Booker Prize, given to the best English-language work of fiction published in the UK, went to Jamaican novelist Marlon James for his novel "A Brief History of Seven Killings."
Here is the complete list of National Book Award finalists, given in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature:
Fiction: Karen E. Bender, "Refund"; Angela Flournoy, "The Turner House"; Lauren Groff, "Fates and Furies"; Adam Johnson, "Fortune Smiles"; Hanya Yanagihara, "A Little Life"
Nonfiction: Ta-Nehisi Coates, "Between the World and Me"; Sally Mann, "Hold Still"; Sy Montgomery, "The Soul of an Octopus"; Carla Power, "If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran"; Tracy K. Smith, "Ordinary Light"
Poetry: Ross Gay, "Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude"; Terrance Hayes, "How to Be Drawn"; Robin Coste Lewis, "Voyage of the Sable Venus"; Ada Limón, "Bright Dead Things"; Patrick Phillips, "Elegy for a Broken Machine"
Young people's literature: Ali Benjamin, "The Thing About Jellyfish"; Laura Ruby, "Bone Gap"; Steve Sheinkin, "Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War"; Neal Shusterman, "Challenger Deep"; Noelle Stevenson, "Nimona"
Each finalist receives $1,000, a medal and a citation. The winner in each category receives $10,000 and a bronze sculpture. The National Book Awards are given by the National Book Foundation, a not-for-profit organization established by the publishing community.