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If they gave Oscars to books, our 2022 nominees.

Emily Temple

February 8, 2023, 12:35pm

The Academy Awards approach. And so, as we’ve done in the past, we have been preparing for the Fake Oscars by thinking about the Real Oscars: that’s right, the Book Oscars. Er, the Book Oscars that aren’t the National Book Awards. You can wear a gown to the National Book Awards. But you know what, you can also wear a gown to this blog post. It’s 2023—you do you.

So what would the categories look like if they applied to books and not films? And which books would win under said invented circumstances? Those burning questions and more are answered below. Be warned in advance that this list will be just as incomplete as any, but at least here you can add on your own missing favorites in the comments.

Best Novel (Best Picture)

Hernan Diaz, Trust
Jennifer Egan, The Candy House
Tess Gunty, The Rabbit Hutch
Gayl Jones, The Birdcatcher
Namwali Serpell, The Furrows
Yiyun Li, The Book of Goose
Gabrielle Zevin, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow


Best Real-Life Main Character (Actor in a Leading Role)

Joan Didion’s Sunglasses
Markus Dohle
Prince Harry
The HarperCollins Union
Heather Havrilesky’s Marriage
Colleen Hoover
Art Spiegelman


Best Debut Novel (Actor in a Supporting Role)

Jane Campbell, Cat Brushing
Jessamine Chan, The School for Good Mothers
Xochitl Gonzalez, Olga Dies Dreaming
Julia May Jonas, Vladimir
Zain Khalid, Brother Alive
Sarah Thankham Mathews, All This Could be Different
Vauhini Vara, The Immortal King Rao


Best YA Novel (Animated Feature Film)

Jas Hammonds, We Deserve Monuments
Tahereh Mafi, This Woven Kingdom
Casey McQuiston, I Kissed Shara Wheeler
Lio Min, Beating Heart Baby
Sonora Reyes, The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School
Sabaa Tahir, All My Rage
Emily J. Taylor, Hotel Magnifique


Best Setting (Cinematography)

Jessamine Chan, The School for Good Mothers : the terrifying titular “school”
John Darnielle, Devil House : Milpitas, California
Barbara Kingsolver, Demon Copperhead : Appalachia
R.F. Kuang, Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution : Oxford
Emily St. John Mandel, Sea of Tranquility : steamship, wilderness, the moon, etc.
Joanna Quinn, The Whalebone Theatre : a theatre built from a whale skeleton
Nghi Vo, Siren Queen : fantastical pre-Code Hollywood


Best Book Jacket Design (Costume Design)

Ling Ma, Bliss Montage, design by Rodrigo Corral
Charles Simic, No Land in Sight, design by John Gall
Selma Blair, Mean Baby, design by Janet Hansen
Tess Gunty, The Rabbit Hutch, design by Linda Huang
Fernando A. Flores, Valleyesque, design and illustration by Na Kim
Sheila Heti, Pure Colour, design by Na Kim
Elias Canetti, I Want to Keep Smashing Myself Until I Am Whole, design by Alex Merto, illustration by Ian Woods
Fernanda Melchor, tr. Sophie Hughes, Paradais, design by Oliver Munday
Gwen E. Kirby, Shit Cassandra Saw, design and illustration by Lydia Ortiz
Lidia Yuknavitch, Thrust, design by Lauren Peters-Collaer


Best Work of Nonfiction (Documentary—Feature)

Rachel Aviv, Strangers to Ourselves: Unsettled Minds and the Stories That Make Us
Jazmina Barrera, tr. Christina McSweeney, Linea Nigra: An Essay on Pregnancy and Earthquakes
Ada Calhoun, Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me
Hua Hsu, Stay True: A Memoir
Margo Jefferson, Constructing a Nervous System: A Memoir
Chloé Cooper Jones, Easy Beauty: A Memoir
Ed Yong, An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us


Best Essay Collection (Documentary—Short Subject)

Elaine Castillo, How to Read Now
Melissa Febos, Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative
Raquel Gutiérrez, Brown Neon
Zora Neale Hurston, You Don’t Know Us Negroes
Sabrina Imbler, How Far the Light Reaches
Jhumpa Lahiri, Translating Myself and Others
Dorthe Nors, tr. Caroline Waight, A Line in the World: A Year on the North Sea Coast
Judith Thurman, A Left-Handed Woman


Best Work of Experimental Literature (Film Editing)

NoViolet Bulawayo, Glory
Mircea Cartarescu, tr. Sean Cotter, Solenoid
Jennifer Egan, The Candy House
Kathryn Davis, Aurelia, Aurélia
Mark Haber, Saint Sebastian’s Abyss
Michelle de Kretser, Scary Monsters
Ann Quin, Tripticks (reissue)
Kathryn Scanlan, Kick the Latch


Best Book in Translation (Foreign Language Film)

Jazmina Barrera, tr. Christina McSweeney, Linea Nigra: An Essay on Pregnancy and Earthquakes
Annie Ernaux, tr. Alison L. Strayer, Getting Lost
Olivier Guez, tr. Georgia de Chamberet, The Disappearance of Josef Mengele
Fernanda Melchor, tr. Sophie Hughes, Paradais
Scholastique Mukasonga, tr. Mark Polizzotti, Kibogo
Hiroko Oyamada, tr. David Boyd, Weasels in the Attic
Olga Togarczuk, tr. Jennifer Croft, The Books of Jacob
Emi Yagi, tr. David Boyd and Lucy North, Diary of a Void


Best Meme Account (Production Design)



Best Picture Book (Short Film—Animated)

Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen, The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Sophie Blackall, Farmhouse
Michaela Goade, Berry Song
Pablo Neruda, tr. Sara Lissa Paulson, illustrated by Paloma Valdivia, Book of Questions
Derick Wilder, illustrated by K-Fai Steele, Does a Bulldozer Have a Butt?
Kevin Young, illustrated by Chioma Ebinama, Emile and the Field


Best Short Story Collection (Short Film—Live Action)

Colin Barrett, Homesickness
Jonathan Escoffery, If I Survive You
Kim Fu, Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century
Jamil Jan Kochai, The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories
Ling Ma, Bliss Montage: Stories
George Saunders, Liberation Day
Morgan Tatly, Night of the Living Rez


Best Graphic Novel or Work of Graphic Nonfiction (Visual Effects)

Kate Beaton, Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands
Jordan Crane, Keeping Two
Michael DeForge, Birds of Maine
Nick Drnaso, Acting Class
James Spooner, The High Desert: Black. Punk. Nowhere


Best Work of SF/Fantasy/Horror/Speculative Fiction (Makeup and Hairstyling)

Gretchen Felker-Martin, Manhunt
Gabino Iglesias, The Devil Takes You Home
Marlon James, Moon Witch, Spider King
R.F. Kuang,Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution
Emily St. John Mandel, Sea of Tranquility
Sequoia Nagamatsu, How High We Go In the Dark
Mónica Ojeda, tr. Sarah Booker, Jawbone
Peng Shepherd, The Cartographers
Erika T. Wurth, White Horse


Best Book of Poetry (Sound Editing and Sound Mixing)

Zeina Hashem Beck, O
John Keene, Punks: New & Selected Poems
Ada Limón, The Hurting Kind
Bernadette Mayer, Milkweed Smithereens
Sharon Olds, Balladz
Solmaz Sharif, Customs
Brian Tierney, Rise and Float
Ocean Vuong, Time is a Mother
Jenny Xie, The Rupture Tense

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