COVID-19: Essential Information


Click image to enlarge

Laila Lalami is one of 10 writers with work among the National Book Award finalists who share a connection to Middlebury.

Media Contact

Ray, Sarah C.
(802) 443-5794

National Book Award Finalists Include Many with Ties to Middlebury

November 6, 2019

Update: Trust Exercise by Susan Choi, a member of the Bread Loaf School of English faculty during the 2019 summer session, won the National Book Award for fiction. Sight Lines, a poetry collection by Arthur Sze, a former Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference faculty member, won in the poetry category. The National Book Foundation announced all the winners at its annual  ceremony on November 20. Both Choi and Sze are included in the New York Times story on the event.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – A number of finalists for the 2019 National Book Awards (NBA) share something in common–a connection to Middlebury. Faculty members from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the College, and the Bread Loaf School of English are among the group of authors, poets, and translators whose work is included in the 25 books up for awards–five in each of five categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature, and young people’s literature. The National Book Foundation, who conducts the awards, will announce the winners at a ceremony on November 20 in New York.

The influence of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference is particularly strong in the poetry category, where all five of the finalists have attended the conference as faculty members or in another capacity. Four out of five categories include those with ties to Middlebury.

“It’s remarkable for one institution to have such a strong presence among this group,” said Jennifer Grotz, director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences. “We are immensely proud and pleased that the National Book Foundation has recognized the talent of all these individuals.”

The following is a list of the writers­–and their books–with their connections to Middlebury:


  •  Trust Exercise by Susan Choi, Bread Loaf School of English 2019 faculty
  •  The Other Americans by Laila Lalami, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference 2016 faculty, 2006 fellow, and 2005 work-study scholar


  • What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance, Carolyn Forché,  Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference 1982 and 1983 associate faculty member, 1976 fellow, and work scholar
  • The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America From 1890 to the Present by David Treuer, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference 2017 faculty


  • The Tradition by Jericho Brown, 2019 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference faculty, 2017 and 2010 fellow, 2005 administrative staff scholar, and 2002 work-study scholar
  • ‘I’: New and Selected Poems by Toi Derricotte, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference 2006 faculty (as well as 1999, 2000, and 2002)
  • Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky, 2020 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference faculty, 2019 special guest, and 2007 fellow
  • Be Recorder by Carmen Giménez Smith, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference 2002 work-study scholar
  • Sight Lines by Arthur Sze, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference 2011 faculty (as well as 2001, 2005, 2007, and 2009)

Translated Literature

  • The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa, translated from Japanese by Stephen Snyder, Dean of the Language Schools and Middlebury College Professor of Japanese Studies

Post a new comment

We hope to create a lively discussion and invite you to add your voice. Please keep comments civil and relevant to the news item at hand. We may remove comments that do not follow these guidelines.

Your comment will be visible after it has been approved by our comment moderators.