The National Book Foundation has named Professor Jerald Walker’s forthcoming collection, How to Make a Slave and Other Essays (Mad Creek Books/The Ohio University Press) a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Nonfiction.
How to Make a Slave was longlisted in September, the only essay collection to earn the distinction. Winners will be announced live at the virtual National Book Awards Ceremony on November 18.
The book, due out in November, includes reflections on the author’s experiences with racial profiling, discussing race with his children, and meditations on disability and family, “all told with a wry comedic eye and deep honesty,” according to the National Book Foundation, which confers the award.
Walker’s previous books include Street Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Redemption, winner of the 2011 PEN New England/L.L. Winship Award for Nonfiction and a Best Memoir of the Year by Kirkus Reviews; and The World in Flames: A Black Boyhood in a White Supremacist Doomsday Cult. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Walker has been published in magazines such as Creative Nonfiction, The Missouri Review, The Harvard Review, Mother Jones, The Iowa Review, and The Oxford American, and he has been widely anthologized, including five times in The Best American Essays.
Walker joins five other authors (four books) on the National Book Award shortlist: Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (The Undocumented Americans), Les Payne and Tamara Payne (The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X), Claudio Saunt (Unworthy Republic: The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory), and Jenn Shapland (My Autobiography of Carson McCullers).