Alumni Finalists for National Book Awards

Elliot Ackerman, A03, F03, and David Grann, F92, made the shortlist in the fiction and nonfiction categories

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Two Tufts alumni are finalists for National Book Awards this fall, having made the cut from the longlist: 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. The announcement was made earlier today. The winners will be named on Nov. 15.

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.  

“This recognition is a great honor,” Ackerman said. “I aspire to tell stories in which people can recognize some of themselves in those who, at face value, seem so different from them. If that’s happened with this book, or any of my books, that’s extremely gratifying.”

Ackerman told Tufts Now in February that many times in writing, “novels are like puzzles; so much of the writing is describing and laying out all of your puzzle pieces, and you get to a certain point, halfway or two thirds of the way through, and you see every piece, and then you see how it comes together.”

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. 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.

“As a reporter [Grann] is dogged and exacting, with a singular ability to uncover and incorporate obscure journals, depositions and ledgers without ever letting the plot sag,” Dave Eggers wrote in a New York Times review of the book. “As a writer he is generous of spirit, willing to give even the most scurrilous of characters the benefit of the doubt.”

Taylor McNeil can be reached at

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