‘Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South,’ by Winfred Rembert, as told to Erin I. Kelly
This memoir, which was told to a Tufts University philosopher, blends Mr. Rembert’s life story with his artwork. In images and in Mr. Rembert’s own words before he died in March last year, the narrative recounts his life in the Jim Crow-era Deep South, his close escape from an attempted lynching in Georgia, his time in prison working on chain gangs and his late-in-life discovery of his artistic talent.
Finalists “Pessoa: A Biography,” by Richard Zenith; “The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women — and Women to Medicine,” by Janice P. Nimura
‘frank: sonnets,’ by Diane Seuss
Ms. Seuss has described this collection, her fifth, as a memoir composed of sonnets, with poems that touch on death, birth, loss and addiction. The collection also won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Voelcker Award.
Finalists “Refractive Africa: Ballet of the Forgotten,” by Will Alexander; “Yellow Rain,” by Mai Der Vang
‘Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City,’ by Andrea Elliott
Ms. Elliott’s intimately reported book expands on her acclaimed 2013 series for The Times about Dasani Coates, a homeless New York schoolgirl, and her family. In addition to a portrait of the family, it’s about a city and country that have repeatedly failed to address the issues of poverty and addiction.
Finalists “Home, Land, Security: Deradicalization and the Journey Back From Extremism,” by Carla Power; “The Family Roe: An American Story,” by Joshua Prager
‘Fat Ham,’ by James Ijames
A comedic riff on “Hamlet,” set at a barbecue, this play is about a Black, gay, Southern man whose father’s ghost urges him to avenge his death. The Wilma Theater in Philadelphia streamed a virtual production last year; the first in-person production is set to begin previews at the Public Theater in New York on Thursday.
Finalists “Kristina Wong, Sweatshop Overlord,” by Kristina Wong; “Selling Kabul,” by Sylvia Khoury
‘Voiceless Mass,’ by Raven Chacon
This site-specific work, for organ and ensemble, was commissioned for the group Present Music’s Thanksgiving concert in Milwaukee. Mr. Chacon, a member of the Navajo Nation, has said he makes a point not to present his art on that holiday but made an exception. The piece, however, was fitting for the occasion, and the church in which it premiered: It is an exploration of gathering spaces, their history and the land they occupy. It considers, Mr. Chacon wrote, “the futility of giving voice to the voiceless, when ceding space is never an option for those in power.”
Finalists “Seven Pillars,” by Andy Akiho; “with eyes the color of time,” by Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti