2013 National Book Award Winners

Is your Kindle finger itching? Do you have a yearning to go to the bookstore or library but don’t know what sounds good? Well, maybe this will help.  Last night, this year’s National Book Awards were announced. Here is the complete list of winners and finalists.

James McBride took the fiction prize for his novel The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead Books/Penguin Group USA):

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Abolitionist John Brown calls her “Little Onion,” but her real name is Henry. A slave in Kansas mistaken for a girl due to the sackcloth smock he was wearing when Brown shot his master, the light-skinned, curly-haired 12-year-old ends up living as a young woman, most often encamped with Brown’s renegade band of freedom warriors as they traverse the country, raising arms and ammunition for their battle against slavery. Though they travel to Rochester, New York, to meet with Frederick Douglass and Canada to enlist the help of Harriet Tubman, Brown and his ragtag army fail to muster sufficient support for their mission to liberate African Americans, heading inexorably to the infamously bloody and pathetic raid on Harpers Ferry.  Starred Review, Booklist  –Carol Haggas

Finalists for the prize included:

Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)

Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge (The Penguin Press/Penguin Group USA)

George Saunders, Tenth of December (Random House)

The winner for non-fiction is George Packer for The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

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How have we come to feel that neither the government nor the private sector works as it should and that the shrinking middle class has few prospects of recovering its former glory? Through profiles of several Americans, from a factory worker to an Internet billionaire, Packer, staff writer for the New Yorker, offers a broad and compelling perspective on a nation in crisis. Packer focuses on the lives of a North Carolina evangelist, son of a tobacco farmer, pondering the new economy of the rural South; a Youngstown, Ohio, factory worker struggling to survive the decline of the manufacturing sector; a Washington lobbyist confronting the distance between his ideals and the realities of the nation’s capital; and a Silicon Valley entrepreneur pondering the role of e-commerce in a radically changing economy. Interspersed throughout are profiles of leading economic, political, and cultural figures, including Newt Gingrich, Colin Powell, Raymond Carver, Sam Walton, and Jay-Z. Also sprinkled throughout are alarming headlines, news bites, song lyrics, and slogans that capture the unsettling feeling that the nation and its people are adrift. Packer offers an illuminating, in-depth, sometimes frightening view of the complexities of decline and the enduring hope for recovery.  Starred Review, Booklist –Vanessa Bush

Finalists in the Non-Fiction Category were:

Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)

Wendy Lower, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Alan Taylor, The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (W.W. Norton & Company)

Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)

Mary Szybist took the Poetry Prize for her collection,  Incarnadine: Poems (Graywolf Press)

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“Love poetry and poetry of religious faith blend and blur into one transcendent, humbled substance. . . . Whether or not readers are attuned to the religious content, these are gorgeous lyrics, in traditional and invented forms–one poem is a diagrammed sentence while another radiates from an empty space at the center of the page–which create close encounters with not-quite-paraphrasable truths. This is essential poetry.” —Publishers Weekly

Poetry finalists included:

Frank Bidart, Metaphysical Dog (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Lucie Brock-Broido, Stay, Illusion (Alfred A. Knopf)

Adrian Matejka, The Big Smoke (Penguin Poets/Penguin Group USA)

Matt Rasmussen, Black Aperture (Louisiana State University Press)

The winner for young people’s literature is Cynthia Kadohata for The Thing About Luck (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)

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It seems that if Summer’s Japanese American family didn’t have bad luck, they’d have no luck at all. Certainly good luck (kouun) is elusive. Consider that Summer has had malaria; her little brother, Jaz, is friendless; her parents have to fly to Japan to take care of elderly relatives; and her grandmother (Obaa-chan) and grandfather (Jii-chan) must pay the mortgage by coming out of retirement to work for a custom harvesting company. When the siblings accompany their grandparents on the harvest, Summer helps her grandmother, a cook, while Jaz is Jaz: intense, focused, and bad-tempered. At first, things go reasonably well, but then Jii-chan becomes sick, and it appears that it might be up to Summer to save the day. Will she succeed? Kadohata has written a gentle family story that is unusual in its focus on the mechanics of wheat harvesting.  (Grades 4-8) – Starred Review,  Booklist – Michael Cart

Finalist for the young people’s literature award included:

Kathi Appelt, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp  (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)

Tom McNeal, Far Far Away (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)

Meg Rosoff, Picture Me Gone (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Group USA)

Gene Luen Yang, Boxers & Saints (First Second/Macmillan)


2 Comments on “2013 National Book Award Winners”

  1. It’s really a nice post. Very informative.

  2. Sandy Allain says:

    To be honest I’m not an avid book reader but after reading this really good post It makes me curious and wonder how great this books are.

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