The selections were winnowed down from 1,637 books.
On Wednesday, the National Book Foundation announced the 25 books that remain in the running for the National Book Awards, now in its 69th year.
The writers come from such places as Pittsburgh, Norway, Iran and Poland, and many of them have delved into some of the most pressing conversations of our time: racism, masculinity, addiction, the destruction of indigenous culture, class divides and corporations.
And for the first time since the 1980s, the judges will also honor a work in translation.
"This year, instead of just celebrating the best American literature, we're celebrating the best literature in America," Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation, told NPR.
"We're from everywhere, and we have to celebrate the world we live in," she said.
Chilean writer Isabel Allende will be recognized at the awards dinner in New York with the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
Doron Weber, best known for his "family memoir," Immortal Bird, will receive the foundation's Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.
On Nov. 13, every finalist will read from the pages of his or her book at The New School in New York City. The winners will be announced the next day.
Jamel Brinkley: A Lucky Man
Lauren Groff: Florida
Brandon Hobson: Where the Dead Sit Talking
Rebecca Makkai: The Great Believers
Sigrid Nunez: The Friend
Colin G. Calloway: The Indian World of George Washington: The First President, the First Americans, and the Birth of the Nation
Victoria Johnson: American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic
Jeffrey C. Stewart: The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke
Rae Armantrout: Wobble
Terrance Hayes: American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin
Diana Khoi Nguyen: Ghost Of
Justin Phillip Reed: Indecency
Jenny Xie: Eye Level
Négar Djavadi: Disoriental
Translated by Tina Kover
Hanne Ørstavik: Love
Translated by Martin Aitken
Domenico Starnone: Trick
Translated by Jhumpa Lahiri
Yoko Tawada: The Emissary
Translated by Margaret Mitsutani
Olga Tokarczuk: Flights
Translated by Jennifer Croft
Elizabeth Acevedo: The Poet X
M. T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin: The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge
Leslie Connor: The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
Christopher Paul Curtis: The Journey of Little Charlie
Jarrett J. Krosoczka: Hey, Kiddo