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Announcing the Finalists for the 2020 Big Other Readers’ Choice Award!


I asked a host of writers, editors, publishers to send me a list of their favorite books published in 2020. Scroll down below to see the finalist list as well as a compilation of honorable mentions. The winner of the 2020 Big Other Readers’ Choice award will be announced April 8, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. at the 2020 Big Other Book Awards Ceremony.

All the books are linked to their respective pages at Bookshop. I also set up a Big Other Shop there, where you can find the finalist list in its entirety.

Big thanks to the following people (many of whom are Big Other contributors) for their lists:

Kurt Baumeister, Dan Beachy-Quick, Charles Bernstein, Jesi Buell, Maxine Chernoff, Jane Ciabattari, Laura Cronk, Vincent Czyz, Raymond de Borja, Rikki Ducornet, Elaine Equi, Joan Frank, Forrest Gander, Erika Goldman, Johannes Göransson, Jefferson Hansen, Alissa Hattman, Hillary Leftwich, Laura Ellen Joyce, Roy Kesey, Micheline Aharonian Marcom, Rob McLennan, Joe Milazzo, David Naimon, Urayoán Noel, Aimee Parkison, D. A. Powell, Dawn Raffel, Martha Ronk, Jim Ruland, Rone Shavers, Stephanie Strickland, Ben Tanzer, Roberto J. Tejada, J. A. Tyler, Rosmarie Waldrop, Dan Wickett, Tyrone Williams, and Angela Woodward.

Stayed tuned for announcements of the longlists for the 2020 Big Other Book Awards in fiction, nonfiction, and translation! (We’ve already announced the poetry longlist.) In the meantime, here’s the list of finalists for the 2020 Big Other Readers’ Choice Award:



George Abraham’s Birthright (Button Poetry)

Ayad Akhtar’s Homeland Elegies (Little Brown and Company)

Rae Armantrout’s Conjure (Wesleyan)

Sasha Banks’s america, MINE (co•im•press)

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s A Treatise on Stars (New Directions)

Tommye Blount’s Fantasia for the Man in Blue (Four Way Books)

Carmen Boullosa’s The Book of Anna (Coffee House Press), translated by Samantha Schnee

Anna Burns’s Little Constructions (Graywolf Press)

Teresa Carmody’s The Reconception of Marie (Spuyten Duyvil)

Tobias Carroll’s Political Sign (Bloomsbury Academic)

Paul Celan’s Memory Rose Into Threshold Speech: The Collected Earlier Poetry (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), translated by Pierre Joris

Jerome Charyn’s Cesare (Bellevue Literary Press)

Christina Chiu’s Beauty (2040 Books)

Don Mee Choi’s DMZ Colony (Wave Books)

Lucille Clifton’s How to Carry Water: Selected Poems, edited by Aracelis Girmay (BOA Editions)

Wanda Coleman’s Wicked Enchantment: Selected Poems (Black Sparrow Press), edited by Terrance Hayes

Eduardo C. Corral’s Guillotine (Graywolf)

Laura Cronk’s Ghost Hour (Persea)

Cynthia Cruz’s Guidebooks for the Dead (Four Way Books)

Moyra Davey’s Index Cards (New Directions), edited by Nicolas Linnert

Adam O. Davis’s Index of Haunted Houses (Sarabande Books)

Natalie Diaz’s Postcolonial Love Poem (Graywolf)

Debra Di Blasi’s Selling the Farm (C&R Press)

Rebecca A. Durham’s Half-Life of Empathy (New Rivers Press)

Danielle Evans’s The Office of Historical Corrections (Riverhead Books)

Percival Everett’s Telephone (Graywolf)

Carolyn Forché’s In the Lateness of the World (Penguin Press)

Aricka Foreman’s Salt Body Shimmer (YesYes Books)

Johannes Göransson’s Poetry Against All: A Diary (Tarpaulin Sky Press)

Jorie Graham’s Runaway (Ecco Press)

Ted Greenwald and Charles Bernstein’s The Course (Roof Books)

Garth Greenwell’s Cleanness (FSG)

Rachel Eliza Griffiths’s Seeing the Body (W. W. Norton & Company)

Roy G. Guzmán’s Catrachos (Graywolf)

Tina May Hall’s The Snow Collectors (Dzanc Books)

francine j. harris’s Here Is the Sweet Hand (FSG)

Yona Harvey’s You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love (Four Way Books)

Vicente Huidobro’s Sky-Quake: Tremor of Heaven, translated by Ignacio Infante and Michael Leong (Co-Im-Press)

Fowzia Karimi’s Above Us the Milky Way (Deep Vellum)

Andrew Krivak’s The Bear (Bellevue Literary Press)

Andrea Clark Libin’s Orphan of the Moon (Wet Cement Press)

Norman Lock’s American Follies (Bellevue Literary Press)

Joyelle McSweeney’s Toxicon and Arachne (Nightboat)

Michael Martone’s The Complete Writings of Art Smith, the Bird Boy of Fort Wayne, Edited by Michael Martone (BOA Editions)

Cris Mazza’s Yet to Come (Blazevox Books)

Albert Mobilio’s Same Faces (Black Square Editions)

John Murillo’s Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way Books)

Sawako Nakayasu’s Some Girls Walk Into the Country They Are From (Wave Books)

Deb Olin Unferth’s Barn 8 (Graywolf)

Lance Olsen’s My Red Heaven (Dzanc Books)

Lisa Olstein’s Pain Studies (Bellevue Literary Press)

Tracy O’Neill’s Quotients (Soho)

Caryl Pagel’s Out of Nowhere Into Nothing (FC2)

Claudia Rankine’s Just Us (Graywolf)

Joan Retallack’s Bosch’d (Litmus)

Legna Rodríguez Iglesias’s Title/Título (Kenning Editions), translated by Katherine M. Hedeen

Lauren Russell’s Descent (Tarpaulin Sky Press)

Loie Rawding’s Tight Little Vocal Cords (Kernpunkt)

Rone Shavers’s Silverfish (Clash Books)

Jason Teal’s We Were Called Specimens (Kernpunkt)

Gale Marie Thompson’s Helen or My Hunger (YesYes Books)

Lidia Yuknavitch’s Verge (Riverhead Books)

Micah Zevin’s Metal, Heavy (Olena Jennings)

The Big Book of Modern Fantasy (Vintage), edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer

Black Imagination: Black Voices on Black Futures (McSweeney’s), edited by Natasha Marin

Poetics for the More-Than-Human World: An Anthology of Poetry and Commentary (Dispatches Editions), edited by Mary Newell, Bernard Quetchenbach, and Sarah Nolan


Honorable Mentions:

Kaouther Adimi’s Our Riches (New Directions), translated by Chris Andrews

Sulaiman Addonia’s Silence Is My Mother Tongue (Graywolf)

Kimberly Alidio’s : once teeth bones coral : ( Belladonna*)

Andrew Altschul’s The Gringa

Maryanne Amacher’s Selected Writings and Interviews

Amang’s Raise by Wolves, translated by Steve Bradbury

Kimberly Q Andrews’s A Brief History of Fruit

Kiik Araki-Kawaguchi’s The Book of Kane and Margaret (FC2)

Jose Vicente Araya’s Hikuri (Peyote), translated by Joshua Pollock

Nina Renata Aron’s Good Morning Destroyer of Men’s Souls

Rick Barot’s The Galleons (Milkweed Editions)

Jazmina Barrera’s On Lighthouses, translated by Christina MacSweeney

Dan Beachy-Quick’s Variations on Dawn and Dusk (Omnidawn)

Jan Beatty’s Body Wars

Cal Bedient’s The Breathing Place (OmniDawn)

Marie Helene Bertino’s Parakeet

Eula Biss’s Having and Being Had

Cicely Belle Blain’s Burning Sugar (Arsenal Pulp Press)

Jenny Bhatt’s Each of Us Killer

Breka Blakeslee’s Probably It Will Not Be Okay (Fellow Travelers/Publication Studio)

Hanne Blank’s Fat

Julie Bloch’s The Sacramento of Desire

Naomi Booth’s Exit Management

Eleanor Boudreau’s Earnest, Earnest

Susan Briante’s Defacing the Monument (Noemi)

Ashleigh Bryant Phillips’s Sleepovers

Marie Buck’s Unsolved Mysteries (Roof)

Amina Cain’s Indelicacy

Jennifer Calkins’s Fugitive Assemblage

Peter Cameron’s What Happens at Night

J’Lyn Chapman’s To Limn / Lying In ([PANK] Books)

Victoria Chang’s Obit

Alan Chazaro’s Pinata Theory

Peter Cherches’s Whistler’s Mother’s Son and Other Curiosities

Margaret Christakos’s charger (Talonbooks)

Morgan Christie’s These Bodies (Tolsun Books)

Anthony Cody’s Borderland Apocrypha (Omnidawn)

Katharine Coldiron’s Ceremonials (Kernpunkt)

Nandi Comer’s Tapping Out

Diane Cook’s The New Wilderness

Joseph Allen Costa’s Comets

Claire Cronin’s Blue Light of the Screen

John Crowley’s And Go Like This

Paul Cunningham’s House of the Tree of Sores

Piper J. Daniels’s Ladies Lazarus

Michael DeForge’s Familiar Face (Drawn & Quarterly)

Mónica de la Torre’s Repetition Nineteen (Nightboat)

Anne de Marcken’s The Accident: An Account

Alex DiFrancesco’s All City

Javad Djavahery’s My Part of Her (Restless), translated by Emma Ramadan

Sharon Dolin’s Hitchcock Blonde

François Dominique’s Aseroë (Bellevue Literary Press), translated by Richard Sieburth & Howard Limoli

Hunter Dukes’s Signature

Ben Ehrenreich’s Desert Notebooks

Jenny Erpenbeck’s Not a Novel

Joshua Escobar’s Bareback Nightfall (Noemi)

Melissa Faliveno’s Tomboyland

Kali Farjardo-Anstine’s Sabrina & Corina

Jen Fawkes’s Mannequin and Wife

Thalia Field and Abigail Lang’s Leave to Remain (Legends of Janus)

Nikky Finney’s Love Child’s Hotbed of Occasional Poetry

Lisa Fishman’s Mad World, Mad Kings, Mad Composition (Wave Books)

Colin Fleming’s Meatheads Say the Realest Things

Brad Fox’s To Remain Nameless (Rescue Press)

Ariel Francisco’s A Sinking Ship is Still a Ship (Burrow Press), translated by José Nicolás Cabrera-Schneider

Joan Frank’s Where You’re All Going

Joan Frank’s Try to Get Lost

Jon Frankel’s Isle of Dogs (Whiskey Tit)

Krista Franklin’s Too Much Midnight (Haymarket Books)

Elisa Gabbert’s The Unreality of Memory

Kenning Jean-Paul Garcia’s Of (What Place Meant) (West Vine Press)

Kate Gaskin’s Forever War (YesYes)

Ross Gay’s Be Holding

Dean Gessie’s Anthropocene

Marie-Andrée Gill Spawn, translated by Kristen Renee Miller (Book*hug)

Madleine Gins’s The Saddest Thing Is That I Have Had to Use Words: A Madeline Gins Reader (Siglio Press), edited by Lucy Ives

Peter Gizzi’s Now It’s Dark

Robert Glick’s Two Californias

Regan Good’s The Needle

Leah Naomi Green’s The More Extravagant Feast

Kendra Greene’s The Museum of Whales You Will Never See

Rolf Halden’s Environment

lukas ray hall’s loudest when startled

Meredith Hall’s Beneficence

Chris Haven’s Nesting Habits of Flightless Birds

Julián Herbert’s Bring Me the Head of Quentin Tarantino: Stories, translated by Christina MacSweeney

Ninso John High’s Without Dragons Even the Emperor Would be Lonely (Wet Cement Press)

David Hollander’s Anthropica

Randall Horton’s {#289-128}

Fanny Howe’s Night Philosophy (Divided Publishing)

Valerie Hsiung’s You & Me Forever (Action Books)

Wayne Holloway Smith’s Love Minus Love

Erica Hunt’s Jump the Clock

Lee Hyemi’s Unexpected Vanilla, translated by So J. Lee

Rita Indiana’s Made in Saturn

Nancy Jensen’s In Our Midst (Dzanc Books)

Stephen Graham Jones’s The Only Good Indians

Pergentino Jose’s Red Ants, translated by Thomas Bunstead

Zeyn Joukhadar’s The Thirty Names of Night

Kafka: The Lost Writings (New Directions)

Fabienne Kanor’s Humus (University of Virginia Press), translated by Lynn E. Palermo

Bhanu Kapil’s How to Wash a Heart

Genevieve Kaplan’s (aviary) (Veliz Books)

Kapka Kassabova’s To the Lake: A Balkan Journey of War and Peace

Vincent Katz’s Broadway for Paul

Tsipi Keller’s And Yes She Was

James Ross Kelly’s And the Fires We Talked About (UnCollected Press)

Karla Kelsey’s Blood Feather (Tupelo)

The Best Poems of Jane Kenyon (Graywolf)

Mohammed Khair-Eddine’s Agadir (Dialogos / Lavender Ink), translated by Pierre Joris & Jake Syersak

Paul Kingsnorth’s Alexandria

Iris Kiya’s Reconstruction of the Father and Other Writings (Dulzorada), translated by Reina Jara Barrientos

Noelle Kocot’s God’s Green Earth (Wave Books)

E.J. Koh’s The Magical Language of Others

Samantha Kolber’s Birth of a Daughter

Ramiza Shamoun Koya’s The Royal Abduls

Nicole Krauss’s To Be a Man

Talia Lavin’s Culture Warlords

Nathalie Leger’s Exposition, translated by Natasha Lehrer

Yi Lei’s My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree: Selected Poems

Sheila Liming’s Office

Christopher Linforth’s Directory (Otis Books/Seismicity Editions)

Paul Lisicky’s Later: My Life at the Edge of the World

Wendy Liu’s Abolish Silicon Valley: How to Liberate Technology from Capitalism (Repeater Books)

Margot Livesey’s The Boy in the Field

Rachel Long’s My Darling from the Lions

George Looney’s The Worst May Be Over (Elixir Press)

Audre Lorde’s Dream of Europe: Selected Seminars and Interviews: 1984-1992 (Kenning Editions), edited by Mayra Rodríguez Castro

Eirann Lorsung’s The Century

Tom Lutz’s Born Slippy (Repeater Books)

Nguyễn Phan Quế Ma’s The Mountains Sing

Robert Macfarlane, Stanley Donwood, Dan Richards’s Ghostways

Aditi Machado’s Emporium (Nightboat Books)

Deborah Madison’s An Onion in my Pocket: My Life with Vegetables

Melissa Maerz’s Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused

Jill Magi’s Speech

Greg Mania’s Born to Be Public (Clash Books)

David Masciotra’s I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters

Bobbie Ann Mason’s Dear Ann

Khaled Mattawa’s Fugitive Atlas

Bernadette Mayer’s Memory

Sadiqa de Meijer’s alfabet/ alphabet: a memoir of a first language

Fernanda Melchor’s Hurricane Season (New Directions), translated by Sophie Hughes

Ellen Michaelson’s The Care of Strangers

Lydia Millet’s The Children’s Bible

Shonna Milliken Humphrey’s Gin

Sarah Minor’s Bright Archive (Rescue Press)

Andriana Minou’s The Fabulous Dead (Kernpunkt)

Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s American Harvest: God, Country, and Farming in the Heartland (Graywolf)

Klaus Modick’s Moss

Ander Monson’s Gnome Stories (Graywolf)

Ander Monson’s I Will Take the Answer (Graywolf)

Susan Montez’s Teaching Shakespeare (Astoria Press)

Wayétu Moore’s The Dragons, the Giant, and the Women (Graywolf)

  1. L. Morin’s Loveoid

Ellen Birkett Morris’s Lost Girls

Scholastique Mukasonga’s Ifigu

Gris Munoz’s Coatlicue Girl (FlowerSong Press)

Robin Myrick’s I Am This State Of Emergency (Surveyor Books)

Chris Nealon’s The Shore (Wave Books)

Susan Neville’s The Town of Whispering Dolls (FC2)

Mark Nowak’s Social Poetics (Coffee House Press)

Víctor Rodríguez Núñez’s from a red barn, translated by Katherine M. Hedeen

Laurence O’Dwyer The Lighthouse Journal

Eva Kristina Olssons’s Mirjams resa hennes klänning

Mat Osman’s The Ruins (Repeater Books)

Alice Oswald’s Nobody: Hymn to the Sea (Norton)

Danielle Pafunda’s Spite

Deborah Paredez’s Year of the Dog (BOA Editions)

Scudder Parke’s Safe as Lightning

Alan Pelaez Lopez’s Intergalactic Travels: Poems from a Fugitive Alien (The Operating System)

Fernando Pessoa’s The Complete Works of Alberto Caeiro (New Directions), translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Kiki Petrosino’s White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia (Sarabande Books)

Meg Pokrass’s Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (V. Press)

Chana Porter’s The Seep

Meghan Privitello’s One God at a Time (YesYes)

Khadijah Queen’s Anodyne (Tin House)

Peter Ramos’s Lord Baltimore (Ravenna Press)

C.F. Ramuz’s Jean-Luc Persecuted, translated by Olivia Baes

Margaret Randall’s My Life in 100 Objects (NYU)

Srikanth Reddy’s Underworld Lit (Wave Books)

Ted Rees’s Thanksgiving: A Poem by (Golias Books)

Linda Reising’s The Keeping

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s The Discomfort of Evening (Graywolf)

Cristina Rivera Garza’s Grieving

Lisa Robertson’s The Baudelaire Fractal (Coach House)

Matthew Rohrer’s The Sky Contains the Plans (Wave Books)

Kenneth R. Rosen’s Bulletproof Vest

David Rothenberg’s The Possibility of Reddish Green (Terra Nova)

Tatiana Ryckman’s The Ancestry of Objects

Matthew Salesses’s Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear

Yi Sang: Selected Works (Wave Books)

Simone Savannah’s Uses of My Body

Kathryn Scanlan’s The Dominant Animal

Jason Schneiderman’s Hold Me Tight

Emily Schultz’s little threats

Robert Scotellaro’s What Are the Chances?

Pierre Senges’s Studies of Silhouettes (Sublunary Editions), translated by Jacob Siefring

Namwali Serpell’s Stranger Faces

Vijay Seshadri’s That Was Now, This Is Then

Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangles Life

Wu Sheng’s My Village: Selected Poems 1972-2014, translated by John Balcom

Ya Shi’s Floral Mutter: Poems, translated by Nick Admussen

Danez Smith’s Homie

Maggie Smith’s Keep Moving

S*an D. Henry-Smith’s Wild Peach (Futurepoem Books)

Mike Soto’s A Grave Is Given Supper (Deep Vellum)

Mary South’s You Will Never Be Forgotten

Rosamund Stanhope’s So I Looked Down to Camelot (Flood Editions)

Gerald Stern’s Blessed As We Were

Geoffrey Strachan’s Tropic of Violence

Lana Swartz’s New Money: How Payment Became Social Media (Yale UP)

Rachel Swearingen’s How to Walk on Water and Other Stories

Marcin Świetlicki’s Night Truck Driver, translated by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese

Souvankham Thammavongsa’s How to Pronounce Knife

Kelly Grace Thomas’s Boat Burned (YesYes)

Natasha Tretheway’s Memorial Drive

Elsa Valmidiano’s We Are No Longer Babaylan (New Rivers Press)

Laura Van Den Berg’s I Hold a Wolf by the Ears

Blanca Varela’s Rough Song, translated by Carlos Lara (The Song Cave)

Danielle Vogel’s Edges & Fray

Shola von Reinhold’s Lote

Laura Waddell’s Exit

Fred Wah’s Music at the Heart of Thinking (Talonbooks)

Kawai Strong Washburn’s Sharks in the Time of Saviors

David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s Winter Counts

Philip Whalen’s Scenes of Life at the Capital (Wave Books)

Isabelle Wilkerson’s Caste

Eliot Weinberger’s Angels and Saints (New Directions)

Allison Benis White’s The Wendys

Artress Bethany White’s Survivor’s Guilt: Essays on Race and American Identity (New Rivers Press)

Adam Wilson’s Sensation Machines

Lia Woodall’s Remove to Play

Amy Woolard’s Neck of the Woods

Erica Wright’s Snake

Frank Wynne’s The Fallen

Can Xue’s I Live in the Slums

Charles Yu’s Interior Chinatown

Pam Zhang’s How Much of These Hills is Gold

American Gun: A Poem by 100 Chicagoans, edited by Chris Green

Dispatches from the Republic of Letters: 50 Years of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, edited by Daniel Simon

F Letter: New Feminist Russian Poetry, edited by by Galina Rymbu, Eugene Ostashevsky, and Ainsley Morse


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