The Simpson Literary Project unveiled the longlist for the 2021 Joyce Carol Oates Prize, with authors Rumaan Alam, Brit Bennett, and Jacqueline Woodson among the contenders.

The Oates Prize is awarded each year to an author in the middle of their career “who has earned a distinguished reputation and the approbation and gratitude of readers.” It’s named after the prolific novelist who served as writer-in-residence of the Simpson Literary Project.

Alam’s latest book, Leave the World Behind, was a finalist for the National Book Award, while Bennett’s The Vanishing Half made the National Book Award longlist. Woodson’s Red at the Bone, published in 2019, earned rave reviews, with a critic for Kirkus praising it as “a fresh song of Brooklyn, an aria to generations of an African American family.”

Other authors on this year’s longlist include Danielle Evans, whose latest book is The Office of Historical Corrections; Yaa Gyasi, whose Homegoing and Transcendent Kingdom racked up critical raves; and Laura van den Berg, whose I Hold a Wolf by the Ears was also a favorite with reviewers.

Additional nominees include Blake Butler (Alice Knott), Percival Everett (Telephone), Sarah Shun-lien Bynum (Likes), and Héctor Tobar (The Last Great Road Bum).

The Joyce Carol Oates Prize was established in 2017, with T. Geronimo Johnson as the inaugural winner. Other authors to take home the award have included Anthony Marra, Laila Lalami, and Daniel Mason.

The longlist will be winnowed down to a shortlist, which will be announced next March. The winner of the award, who receives a cash prize of $50,000, will be revealed next April.

Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.