Two Tufts Alums Up for National Books Awards

Elliot Ackerman and David Grann are on the longlist for fiction and nonfiction

Elliot Ackerman in Turkey

When the National Book Awards longlist was announced late last week, two Tufts alumni were in the running for the prestigious honors: Elliot Ackerman, A03, F03, for his novel Dark at the Crossing, and David Grann, F92, for his nonfiction book Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.

After graduating from Tufts, Ackerman enlisted in the Marines and served five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before turning to his passion for writing. A journalist for The Atlantic, The New Yorker and other publications, Ackerman published his first novel, Green on Blue, about a young Afghan orphan, in 2015.

Dark at the Crossing, published earlier this year, is about a naturalized Iraqi-American who goes to Turkey wanting to cross the border into Syria to fight the Bashar al-Assad regime. He ends up stranded in a border town and befriends a Syrian couple, who are facing their own struggles.  

Ackerman told Tufts Now in February that he hoped the book “conveys the emotional topography of what’s going on there right now. If I’ve done my job as a writer, by the time you finish the book, you might feel the conflict within so many of these people who have been trapped by this revolution.”

Grann, a staff writer for The New Yorker since 2003, is the author of The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, a bestseller that was made into a movie released earlier this year.

His latest book, Killers of the Flower Moon, tells the story of the Osage nation in the 1920s, when its Oklahoma land sat atop underground oil reserves. Osage members were being murdered for their land rights, and the FBI took up an investigation to find the culprits.

“The perpetrators of these crimes not only murdered their victims, but also deprived them and their families of their history,” Grann said in an interview for an upcoming Tufts Magazine article. “When you interview and spend time with the Osage today, you realize how anguishing that is. By the time I finished the book, I realized that the greatest horrors of history may be not those we know, but those we don’t know.”

The National Book Awards finalists will be announced on October 4.

Taylor McNeil can be reached at  

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