The National Book Award winners were announced last night:
Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen (Modern Library)
The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed (Norton)
Fire to Fire by Mark Doty (HarperCollins)
Young People’s Literature
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell (Scholastic)
Each winner took home a $10,000 cash prize and a nice bronze statue.
It’s been suggested that there may be some controversy over Matthiessen’s win. Shadow Country is a revised compilation of three earlier works (Killing Mister Watson, Lost Man’s River, Bone by Bone) based on the life of outlaw Edgar J. Watson.
Gordon-Reed’s win could not have come at better time if she planned it. Referencing President-Elect Obama, The New York Times quoted her saying:
[Gordon-Reed] was the first African-American author to win the prize for nonfiction since Orlando Patterson won for “Freedom” in 1991. “I can’t say what a wonderful November this has been,” she said. “It’s sort of wonderful to have the book come out at this time. People ask me if I planned it this way; I didn’t. All of America — we’re on a great journey now and I look forward to the years to come.”