One of the most closely watched literary prizes in the world was announced this week – the National Book Awards. It has been previously awarded to writers like William Faulkner and Ralph Ellison and has the power to entirely transform an author’s profile.
The National Book Foundation, the presenter of the National Book Awards, seeks to celebrate the best literature in America, expand its audience, and ensure that books have a prominent place in American culture.
In a virtual ceremony, Nancy Pearl earned Lifetime Achievement status with the National Book Foundation’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. Karen Tei Yamashita was recognized with the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
Books are awarded in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature. Read through the descriptions below of each winning book, and learn more about the award at www.nationalbook.org.
As a reminder, the Delaware County District Library will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24, and remain closed through the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, Nov. 25. We reopen with our regular hours on Friday, Nov. 26.
We hope you have a joyous holiday, filled with the love of those you hold dear. If you happen to need the library while we’re closed, just stop by www.delawarelibrary.org and stroll through our Digital Collections to see what you can download immediately. Happy Thanksgiving!
Fiction: “Hell of a Book” by Jason Mott. Three characters intertwine in this heartbreaking and magical book about family, love of parents and children, art and money, and a nation’s reckoning with a tragic police shooting. In it, a Black author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. The novel tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past. Meanwhile, The Kid, a possibly imaginary child, appears to the author on his tour. The characters will burn into your mind in an electrifying plot ideal for a book club discussion.
Nonfiction: “All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake” by Tiya Miles. Sitting in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is a rough cotton bag, called “Ashley’s Sack,” embroidered with just a handful of words that evoke a sweeping family story of loss and of love passed down through generations. A renowned historian traces the life of a single object handed down through three generations of Black women to craft an extraordinary testament to people who are left out of the archives.
Poetry: “Floaters” by Martin Espada. Espada weaves narratives of protest, grief, and love in this collection. He knows that times of hate also call for poems of love – even in the voice of a Galápagos tortoise. Whether celebrating the visions of fallen dreamers and poets or condemning the devastation of Hurricane Maria and official negligence in his father’s Puerto Rico, Espada invokes ferocious, incandescent spirits
Translated Literature: “Winter in Sokcho” by Aneesa Abbas Higgins and Elisa Shua Dusapin. A novel about shared identities and divided selves, vision and blindness, intimacy and alienation. It’s winter in Sokcho, a summer tourist town on the border between South and North Korea. A young French Korean woman works as a receptionist in a tired guesthouse when, one evening, an unexpected guest arrives: a French cartoonist determined to find inspiration in this desolate landscape. The two form an uneasy relationship, discovering the differences between the “authentic” Korea they both believe they know.
Young People’s Literature: “Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo. Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father – despite his hard-won citizenship – Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.
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