Two prestigious literary awards were announced on September 9, 2014.
Her works include Love, Medicine (recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1984), The Antelope Wife (winner of a World Fantasy Award in 1999) and The Round House (awarded the National Book Award for Fiction in 2012). Her 2008 work, The Plague of Doves, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her works are known for incorporating both her German-American and Ojibwe heritage.
The award judges, Zadie Smith, E.L. Doctorow and Edwidge Danticat, wrote of her work, “Some writers work a small piece of land: Louise Erdrich is not one of those writers. Her work has an awesome capaciousness–each person is a world. For Erdrich, the tale of the individual necessarily leads to the tale of the family, and families lead to nations, while the wound of a national injustice is passed down through the generations, expressing itself in intimate deformations, a heady intertwining of the national and the personal. Yet despite the often depressingly familiar, repetitive nature of so much human business, Erdrich¹s eye is always fresh, her sentences never less than lyrical.”
This has been a good year for Ms. Erdrich, who earlier this summer was awarded the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Distinguished Achievement Award for her body of work. When notified of the PEN/Saul Bellow Award, she responded, “Getting this award would intimidate the hell out of me if I weren’t so excited.”
Also announced was the awarding of The National Book Foundation’s 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to fantasy and science fiction icon Ursula K. Le Guin. (The National Book Foundation is the presenter of the National Book Awards.) Her body of work includes multiple Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award winners, perhaps the most popular of which are the Earthsea fantasy series.
In April 2000 the U.S. Library of Congress made Le Guin a Living Legend in the “Writers and Artists” category for her significant contributions to America’s cultural heritage. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame inducted her in 2001, and The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America made her its 20th Grand Master in 2003.
Harold Augenbraum, the National Book Foundation’s executive director , said in the award, “Ursula Le Guin has had an extraordinary impact on several generations of readers and, particularly, writers in the United States and around the world. She has shown how great writing will obliterate the antiquated—and never really valid—line between popular and literary art. Her influence will be felt for decades to come.” Ms. Le Guin is the 27th recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, which was established in 1988.
Some of the writers who cite Ms. LeGuin as a creative influence include Salman Rushdie, David Mitchell, Iain Banks, Michael Chabon and Neil Gaiman. Mr. Gaiman will be presenting the award at the 65th National Book Awards Ceremony on November 19, in New York City.