Friday, November 16, 2012

Favorites Erdrich, Boo, Win National Book Awards


The National Book Awards were presented Wednesday evening at Cipriani Wall Street. In keeping with the awards' recognition of writers with a broad audience and larger reach, favorites Louise Erdrich and Katherine Boo won in the fiction and nonfiction categories.


Accepting the nonfiction award for Behind The Beautiful Forevers, Boo said that if the prize were to mean anything, "it is that small stories in so-called hidden places matter because they implicate and complicate what we consider to be the larger story, which is the story of people who do have political and economic powers." Erdrich began her speech in her native Ojibwe, then switched back to English to dedicate her award for The Round House to  "the grace and endurance of native people."

A Harper spokesperson tells us they will be going back to press for another 35,000 copies of Erdrich's novel, which will up the number of copies in print to 100,000. Random House had already planned for a 10,000 copy re-order on Boo's book but as a result of her win they " just pushed the button on an additional 50k copies," the company told us. The paperback publication date, originally slated for February 12, 2013, "has been postponed with a new publication date to be determined." In addition, a spokesperson for the University of Chicago Press, which published poetry winner David Ferry's Bewilderment, tells us "we ran an additional modest printing in preparation for this, and we've got the book set up on our short-run facility so that we should be able to keep up with demand over the next several weeks" in anticipation of printing another 5000-6000 copies.

The list of winners:
Louise Erdrich, The Round House (Harper)
Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Random House)
David Ferry, Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations (University of Chicago Press)
Young People's Literature
William Alexander, GOBLIN SECRETS (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

Earlier in the evening NYT publisher and chairman Arthur Sulzberger accepted the Literarian Award, praising the work of the New York Times Book Review and the criticism in the paper's daily pages. He concluded that in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, "many people were faced with days without power. When our e-readers and phones ran out of power, we turned to books, reading them by candlelight. Books will always remain, and they will always be part of the conversation at the New York Times."

Elmore Leonard, in accepting his lifetime achievement honor, regaled the audience with stories of juggling novel-writing with his advertising agency work, being rejected "over 84 times" by movie producers for an early crime novel, and why the George V. Higgins novel THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE means a great deal. (Martin Amis, in his introduction, also read out several Leonard passages to the audience's great amusement.) Leonard finished his speech saying he was "energized" by the award: "The only thing I’ve ever wanted to do in my life is tell stories, and this award tells me I am still good at it."

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