Coates continues winning streak at National Book Awards
Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me continued what could become a sweep of major literary awards by winning the 2015 National Book Award for nonfiction on Wednesday night. Coates' bestselling book, framed as a letter to his teenage son, combines memoir and commentary in an urgent, utterly timely look at race in America. The book won the $50,000 Kirkus Award in October, and Coates was named a recipient of a MacArthur "genius" grant, for $625,000 over five years, in September.
The winner of the National Book Award for fiction was Florida State University graduate Adam Johnson, for his surreal, often comic short story collection, Fortune Smiles. Johnson won the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for his novel The Orphan Master's Son.
Neal Shusterman's novel Challenger Deep won the award for young people's litarature. Shusterman based the dark fantasy story about a mentally ill teenager on his own son, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression.
The award for poetry went to Robin Coste Lewis' debut collection, Voyage of the Sable Venus, which combines autobiography with explorations of cultural and artistic depictions of black women.
The National Book Foundation's annual awards were presented at Cipriani Wall Street, a luxurious restaurant in New York City, on Wednesday night. Hugely bestselling author James Patterson received the Literarian Award, for service to the literary community, for his donations of more than $2.75 million dollars to libraries, bookstores and literacy organizations. Patterson joked about his status as a commercially successful author, calling himself a "Big Mac at Cipriani."
The Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters was presented to novelist Don DeLillo (White Noise). In his speech, DeLillo talked not about his own books but about a room in his home where he keeps old paperbacks. “When I visit the room, I’m not the writer,” he said. “That’s the guy who lives down the hall. Here I’m not the writer at all, I’m the grateful reader.”