Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The National Book Awards

Last Wednesday, I wrote about one of the nominees for the National Book Award for fiction: Peter Matthiessen’s Shadow Country.

I explained that Shadow Country was a controversial entry because it was a rewritten compilation of three of his previous novels presented as one novel. The three novels--Killing Mister Watson, Lost Man's River and Bone by Bone--“creates a vivid portrait of the untamed southwest Florida of the late 19th and early 20th centuries” according to Publishers Weekly.

On Wednesday night, at a black-tie dinner at Cipriani’s Wall Street in Manhattan, Mr. Matthiessen won the National Book Award for fiction.

Mr. Matthiessen had previously won the National Book Award for non-fiction in 1979 for his book The Snow Leopard. That book was the story of his two-month journey in 1973 to Crystal Mountain on the Tibetan Plateau of the Himalayas.

The winner of this year’s prize for non-fiction went to Annette Gordon-Reed for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family. According to The New York Times, the book is “a sweeping, prodigiously researched biography of three generations of a slave family owned by Thomas Jefferson.”

The Times said:
Ms. Gordon-Reed, who celebrated her 50th birthday on the night of the awards, 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.”

No comments: