The Winners of the 2017 National Book Awards

Sarah Harrison Smith on November 16, 2017
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NBA.gifLast night, at the 2017 National Book Awards ceremony in New York, judges announced the winners of the annual prize in four categories: Young People's Literature, Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction. The evening began with two lifetime achievement awards. President Bill Clinton presented the first to Dick Robinson, President and CEO of Scholastic, for his committment to children’s literacy. The second, presented by actress Anne Hathaway, went to Annie Proulx, author of the story “Brokeback Mountain,” which was made into a film in which Ms. Hathaway starred, and novels including The Shipping News. Accepting the award, Ms. Proulx said, ”I didn’t start writing until I was 58, so if you’ve been thinking about it and putting it off, go ahead.”

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2017 award.

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Far from the Tree, By Robin Benway
HarperTeen/HarperCollins
In their citation, the judges wrote, “ Far from the Tree is the poignant story of three young people discovering the complicated ways that families love. … In Benway’s able hands, readers feast on a big hearted and uplifting story about growing up, daring to count on others and most importantly, having the courage to reveal and embrace our own imperfections.”

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Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016, by Frank Bidart
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Of Bidart’s collection, which spans five decades of his work, the judges wrote, “There are multitudes here: personal selves, invented characters, and historical figures worn like overcoats – sometimes disguising, sometimes revealing, but always presented, inhabited as query, as revelation. With mask and mirror, in persona or as confession, these poems present mind and body simultaneously ruthless and vulnerable, as they interrogate the arc of a life, of all lives.”

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The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, by Masha Gessen
Riverhead Books/ Penguin Random House
In The Future Is History, Gessen charts the effects of changing political leadership on the lives of four Russians who came of age in the 1980s, when Mikhail Gorbachev’s “glasnost” led to increased openness. It was an approach to the West which didn’t last. “Writing with the verve and empathy of a novel and the depth and perspective of an intellectual history, Masha Gessen diagnoses Russian society with ‘recurrent totalitarianism,’ a chronic disease that was once in remission, but has lately resurged.”

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Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward
Scribner/ Simon and Schuster
Ward is the first woman to ever receive the National Book Award for fiction twice – her novel Salvage the Bones won in 2011. In their citation, the judges wrote that “ Sing, Unburied, Sing is a narrative so beautifully taut and heartbreakingly eloquent that it stops the breath. Through fully imagined characters both living and dead, this road novel moves beyond the road into the bigger story of what it means to be an American in the rural south both now and decades before this moment.” Sing, Unburied, Sing, was an Amazon Best of the Month pick for September 2017.


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