Novel About Racial Injustice Wins National Book Award
Louise Erdrich won the National Book Award for fiction on Wednesday night for “The Round House,” a novel about a teenage boy’s effort to investigate an attack on his mother on a North Dakota reservation, and his struggle to come to terms with the violence in their culture.
Erdrich, who gave part of her acceptance speech in Ojibwe, said the award “recognized the grace and endurance of native women.” USA TODAY’s four-star review called it “deeply moving” and “impossible to forget.”
The other winners are:
Non-fiction:Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo, who said that “small stories and hidden places matter.” The judges praised the “interview-based narrative in which the interviewer never appears.”
Young People’s Literature: Goblin Secrets by William Alexander, a fantasy about a boy searching for his missing brother. The judges praised it for “brilliantly revealing our own selves by holding up our masks.” Alexander called his win “proof that alternative realities exist.”
Poetry: Bewilderment by David Ferry, which the judges praised for “singing about the human condition as casually and ferociously as it is lived.”
— Elmore Leonard, 87, whose 45 novels include Get Shorty, Out of Sight and Hombre, received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
Leonard, who recalled how he started writing fiction every morning from 5 to 7 before going to work at an advertising agency, said the “only thing I wanted to do in my life is to have a good time telling stories, and this award tells me I’m still at it.” He said he’s at work on his 46th novel, titled Blue Dreams, “to add to the stack.”
— New York Times Publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger received the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.
The winners in fiction, non-fiction, poetry and young people’s literature each receive $10,000 — and a boost in their literary reputations and book sales. To be eligible for this year’s awards, a book must have been published in the USA between Dec. 1, 2011, and Nov. 30, 2012, and been written by a U.S. citizen.
The 62-year-old awards, rivaled only by the Pulitzers in prestige, are sponsored by the National Book Foundation, which is supported by the publishing industry.