Thursday, November 20, 2008

National Book Awards

The 2009 National Book Award Winners were announced during a ceremony Wednesday night. They are as follows:

Fiction: Shadow Country, by Peter Matthiessen. There was actually some controversy over whether this book should even be eligible, since it is a one-volume reworking of an earlier trilogy Matthiessen published a while back. However, the judges determined there was enough new material to justify considering it as a separate work. Matthiessen previously won a nonfiction NBA for The Snow Leopard.

Nonfiction: The Hemingses of Monticello, by Annette Gordon-Reed. About ten years ago, Gordon-Reed wrote, Thomas Jefferson & Sally Hemings, a book credited with helping to definitively establish the connection between Jefferson and his slave mistress. Here, Gordon-Reed delves into the fascinating and amazing history of the entire Hemings family and their complicated relationships with not only the Jeffersons, but with other families as well.

Poetry: Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems, by Mark Doty. Doty, 55, has written seven previous books of poetry plus several books of prose. This new volume includes some of the best poems from his previous books as well as new ones. (Career collections such as this frequently win awards, but this doesn't seem to raise the same kind of questions that arose in the case of the Matthiessen book.)

Young People's Literature: What I Saw and How I Lied, by Judy Blundell. A Young Adult novel from a new name in the genre, this is a mystery tale set during the World War II era about a girl who discovers dark secrets about her family after her father returns from the war.

More about the National Book Awards and this year's winners can be found here.

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