Congratulations to our Speakers Nominated for the 2021 National Book Awards!


The National Book Awards celebrate the best of American literature and aim to enhance the cultural value of great writing nationwide. The Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau is proud to represent three speakers on the National Book Awards longlist, and one nominee on the shortlist this year. Read more about them below!

2021 National Book Awards Finalists


Matrix - Lauren Groff

Lauren Groff’s Matrix is a defiant and timely exploration of the raw power of female creativity in a corrupted world. Matrix follows a young woman, exiled from the French court and sent to a remote abbey to live out her days, who revolutionizes the convent with the help of some divine inspiration. Groff gathers currents of history, sensuality, and sisterhood in a mesmerizing portrait of passionate feminism, aberrant faith, and women empowerment.

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Lauren Groff

National Book Award finalist and bestselling author of Fates and Furies and Matrix

The Prophets

The Prophets - Robert Jones, Jr.

Robert Jones, Jr.’s stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence. The Prophets fearlessly reveals the pain and suffering of inheritance, but is also shot through with hope, beauty, and truth, portraying the enormous, heroic power of love.

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Robert Jones, Jr.

Creator of Son of Baldwin and author of The Prophets

Past Winners - Fiction

Interior Chinatown

2020: Interior Chinatown - Charles Yu

Interior Chinatown is a genre-bending masterpiece that explores the confining stereotypes of Asian Americans in Hollywood and in American culture more broadly. Both extensively researched and startlingly original, Interior Chinatown is a profound and topical exploration of the weight of stereotypes, racism, and assimilation in American culture.

The Friend

2018: The Friend - Sigrid Nunez

A literary sensation and a writer of uncommon talent, Sigrid Nunez is the author of many novels. Her writing spans over a wide range of genres and themes, but the constant is the level of familiarity she achieves with her readers through her intimate and confessional tone.

The Underground Railroad (Pulitzer Prize Winner) (National Book Award Winner) (Oprah's Book Club)

2016: The Underground Railroad (Pulitzer Prize Winner) (National Book Award Winner) (Oprah's Book Club) - Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead has established himself as one of the most versatile and innovative writers in contemporary literature. The author of eight books, he is a MacArthur fellow and Pulitzer Prize finalist.


2014: Redeployment - Phil Klay

United States Marine Corps veteran Phil Klay wowed critics and readers alike with his short story collection Redeployment, which was named “one of the best debuts of the year” (The Oregonian.)


1999: Waiting - Ha Jin

Ha Jin is an award-winning novelist and a professor at Boston University. Born in China and a veteran of the People’s Liberation Army, Jin’s fascinating upbringing makes him a captivating speaker on China’s past and present.

Past Winners – Non-Fiction

Between the World and Me

2015: Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates

MacArthur fellow Ta-Nehisi Coates has emerged as an essential voice for our times. His award-winning writing combines reportage, historical analysis, and personal narrative to address some of America’s most complex and challenging issues pertaining to culture and identity. He is also the current author of the Marvel comics The Black Panther and Captain America.

Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo is among the most influential journalists writing about disadvantaged populations. Her New York Times bestseller Behind the Beautiful Forevers, based on years of reporting in Mumbai, exposes one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds with uncompromising clarity and empathy.

The First Tycoon

2009: The First Tycoon - T.J. Stiles

T. J. Stiles is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The First Tycoon, a biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Custer’s Trials, a biography of George Armstrong Custer. He has served as a historical adviser and on-screen expert for American Experience programs on PBS.

American Sphinx

1997: American Sphinx - Joseph J. Ellis

A leading scholar of American history, Joseph J. Ellis is a Pulitzer Prize winner for his biographies of our nation’s earliest presidents. Ellis is a distinguished professor and seasoned speaker who regales audiences with stories of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other U.S. presidents.

Poetry Winners

Voyage of the Sable Venus

2015: Voyage of the Sable Venus - Robin Coste Lewis

Robin Coste Lewis is an electrifying new voice in contemporary poetry. Both tender and arresting in her poems, Lewis is also an astute cultural critic, alert to the complexities of race and the black female voice.

Young People’s Literature Winners

Brown Girl Dreaming

2014: Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a recipient of the NAACP Image Award, and was recently named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She gives stirring lectures that delve into the inspiration behind her books and explore important issues of race, gender, and bullying.

Past Finalists

Kali Fajardo-Anstine (Fiction, 2019)

David Treuer (Nonfiction, 2019)

Rebecca Makkai (Fiction, 2018)

Jacqueline Woodson (Fiction, 2016)

Lauren Groff (Fiction, 2015, 2018)

Hanya Yanagihara (Fiction, 2015)

Emily St. John Mandel (Fiction, 2014)

Junot Díaz (Fiction, 2012)

Téa Obreht (Fiction, 2011)

Lauren Redniss (Nonfiction, 2011)

Peter Carey (Fiction, 2010)

E. Lockhart (Young People’s Literature, 2008)

Jennifer Egan (Fiction, 2001)

Please contact us about booking any of the above speakers for your upcoming event. And if you want to stay updated on our speakers, remember to sign up for our e-newsletter.