The 2013 National Book Awards were held tonight. Awards were given in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Young People’s Literature, and Poetry. The winners are:
Fiction: The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
Nonfiction: The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer
Young People’s Literature: The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata
Poetry: Incarnadine by Mary Szybist
Perhaps the most notable literary prize in America, the National Book Awards are in their 64th year. Past winners have included a few forgotten talents, but also many revered literary greats – Saul Bellow and William Faulkner, to name a few.
This year was the first time the National Book Foundation released both a long list and a short list of nominees. The short list for Fiction differed from those of recent years, in that it featured no debut authors.
Whether the awards accurately predict which books will catch fire with the American public has been a point of contention among writers. Critic James Wood called literary awards “the new reviews,” but Salon’s Laura Miller has called the National Book Awards “irrelevant.” The prominence of last year’s winners implies otherwise: Louise Erdrich took home the Fiction award for The Round House, andNew Yorker veteran Katherine Boo, who’d previously won both a Pulitzer and a MacArthur Fellowship, snagged a win for her moving story of poverty in India,Behind the Beautiful Forevers.