Sudanese-American poet Safia Elhillo has been longlisted for the 2021 US’ National Book Award for her novel Home is Not a Country. She is nominated in the category of ‘Young People’s Literature.’

The US’ National Book Awards, first awarded in 1936, is one of the most coveted literary honors in the US. Administered by the National Book Foundation, it is annually awarded to a US writer for work published in the preceding year across the categories of Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Translation, and Young People’s Literature.

Elhillo’s Home is Not a Country, written in verse, centers Nima as a young girl grappling with self-disorientation, the while exploring themes of family and identity. It was described as “Nothing short of magic” by Elizabeth Acevedo, the New York Times Bestselling author of The Poet X. (Read an excerpt here.)

Chaired by Cathryn Mercier, the judging panel for the category include Pablo Cartaya, Traci Chee, Leslie Connor, and Ibi Aanu Zoboi.

Previously-nominated writers of African descent include Laila Lalami, Scholastique Mukasonga, and Akwaeke Emezi.

A shortlist of five will be announced on 5 October and the winner on 11 November.

See the full longlists here.

Congratulations to Safia Elhillo!