Art News

Denver's Kali Fajardo-Anstine Is a Finalist for the 2019 National Book Award

Kali Fajardo-Anstine is the author of Sabrina & Corina: Stories.
Kali Fajardo-Anstine is the author of Sabrina & Corina: Stories. Kali Fajardo-Anstine
The list of 2019 finalists for the coveted National Book Award was released on October 8, and a Denver author’s book — set right here in the Mile High City — made the cut.

Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s collection Sabrina & Corina: Stories, which has been making a national splash and garnering overwhelmingly positive reviews since its release earlier this year, is one of only five finalists in the fiction category.

Fajardo-Anstine’s book, which she called “a love song to Denver as I know it” when we interviewed her earlier this year on the occasion of the book’s release, deals with issues of gender and culture through the lens of family and heritage, abandonment and home.

“Here are stories that blaze like wildfire,” said Sandra Cisneros (House on Mango Street), “with characters who made me laugh and broke my heart.” Julia Alvarez (In the Time of the Butterflies) calls the book “masterful storytelling” with stories that “…move through the heart of darkness and illuminate it with the soul of truth.”

“When I heard the news,” Fajardo-Anstine said in a Facebook post just after the announcement, “I wanted to call my ancestors, but I know they’ve been with me all along.”

Fajardo-Anstine will join 24 other finalists in five total categories at the awards ceremony in New York City on November 20.

Here's the complete list of 2019 National Book Award finalists, their nominated works, and their respective categories:

Susan Choi, Trust Exercise
Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Sabrina & Corina: Stories
Marlon James, Black Leopard, Red Wolf
Laila Lalami, The Other Americans
Julia Phillips, Disappearing Earth


Sarah M. Broom, The Yellow House
Tressie McMillan Cottom, Thick: And Other Essays
Carolyn Forche, What You Have Heard is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance
David Treuer, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present
Albert Woodfox with Leslie George, Solitary


Jericho Brown, The Tradition
Toi Derricotte, “I”: New and Selected Poems
Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic
Carmen Gimenez Smith, Be Recorder
Arthur Sze, Sight Lines

Khaled Khalifa, Death Is Hard Work (Translated from Arabic by Leri Price)
Laszlo Krasznahorkai, Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming (Translated from Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet)
Scholastique Muksonga, The Barefoot Woman (Translated from French by Jordan Stump)
Yoko Ogawa, The Memory Police (Translated from Japanese by Stephen Snyder)
Pajtim Statovci, Crossing (Translanted from Finnish by David Hackston)

Akwaeke Emezi, Pet
Jason Reynolds, Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks
Randy Ribay, Patron Saints of Nothing
Laura Ruby, Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All
Martin W. Sandler, 1919: The Year That Changed America
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen