Olympics medalist Smith up for National Book Award

NEW YORK—A picture story co-authored by Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith and a novel by Nobel laureate Olga Tokarczuk were among the nominees Wednesday on long lists for the National Book Awards.

The National Book Foundation, which presents the awards, released lists of 10 in the categories of young people’s literature and literature in translation. Later in the week, the foundation will announce long lists for poetry, nonfiction and fiction.

Tokarczuk’s “The Books of Jacob,” translated from the Polish by Jenny Croft, was cited for literature in translation, which also included a previous National Book Award winner, Yoko Tawada, whose “Scattered All Over the Earth” was translated from the Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani. Nominees also included Mohammed Hasan Alwan’s “Ibn Arabi’s Small Death,” translated from the Arabic by William M. Hutchins; Shahriar Mandanipour’s ”Seasons of Purgatory,” translated from the Persian by Sara Khalili; Mónica Ojeda’s “Jawbone,” translated from the Spanish by Sarah Booker, and Olga Ravn’s “The Employees,” translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken.

In young people’s literature, “Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice,” a collaboration among Smith, Derrick Barnes and Dawud Anyabwile, was among the nominees. The book recalls Smith’s gold medal in the men’s 200 meter race at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City and his raising his fist in what he called a “human rights” salute during the medals ceremony. He and teammate John Carlos, who also raised his fist, were banished from the games, although allowed to keep their medals.

Sabaa Tahir, best known for her “An Ember in the Ashes” fantasy series, was on the long list for “All My Rage,” along with “Swim Team,” by bestselling graphic novelist Johnnie Christmas; Traci Chee’s “A Thousand Steps into Night”: Anna-Marie McLemore’s ”Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix”; Sonora Reyes’s “The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School” and Kelly Barnhill’s “The Ogress and the Orphans.”

The long lists in five competitive categories will be narrowed to five finalists on October 4, with winners announced November 16. AP

Image credits: AP