Home Baked by Alia Volz: 2020 Autobiography Finalist

By Stephanie Burt

Home Baked: Marijuana, My Mother and the Stoning of San Francisco by Alia Volz (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Ample, skillfully researched, and cleanly narrated, Volz’s debut is really five books in

Obit by Victoria Chang: 2020 Poetry Finalist

By Charles Finch

Obit by Victoria Chang (Copper Canyon) Very few books are straightforwardly about death, but Obit, by the poet Victoria Chang, is one of them. Except that death turns out to

Imperial Liquor by Amaud Jamaul Johnson: 2020 Poetry Finalist

By Stephanie Burt

Imperial Liquor by Amaud Jamaul Johnson (Univ. of Pittsburgh Press) Johnson’s themes—black masculinity, parenthood, shared struggle against injustice and antiblackness—now belong at the very center of 21st century American poetry.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell: 2020 Fiction Finalist

By Colette Bancroft

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Knopf) We know a great deal about William Shakespeare’s literary works, but next to nothing about his personal life. Maggie O’Farrell embraces that blank canvas and