Washington State Is All Over the National Book Awards Longlist

Two local poets. Two local presses. A former Seattleite's Seattle-based novel.

By Stefan Milne September 18, 2020

The National Book Awards longlist trickled out yesterday and today, and Washington state is even better represented than last year (when nearly a third of the poetry list came from local presses).

The major local news is that two local poets are up for recent books that use history as the impetus for exploration. Rick Barot’s The Galleons uses ten poems about the Manila galleons as departure points in a book that beautifully, discursively navigates colonialism, consumerism, familial loss, art, and plenty more. Don Mee Choi’s DMZ Colony is a flurry of forms—image, poem, prose, translation—that takes its name from the Korean Demilitarized Zone. It and another book on the poetry list, Victoria Chang’s Obit, were published by local presses—Wave Books and Copper Canyon Press, respectively.

Finally, former Seattleite (and current Portlander) Vanessa Veselka’s The Great Offshore Grounds landed on the fiction list. The sweeping novel trots around the country, but kicks off with a two adult half sisters going to their estranged father’s wedding outside of Seattle. 

All these books are already out. Local bookstores still need love. Get reading.

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