The National Book Award winners were announced this week. Annette Gordon Reed won for her latest work on the Sally Hemings’ family. I haven’t yet read this one but her earlier work on the topic, THOMAS JEFFERSON AND SALLY HEMINGS, AN AMERICAN CONTROVERSY was fascinating. Winners and contenders include:
Peter Matthiessen won in the fiction category for Shadow Country. “I had a hard time,” he said in his acceptance speech, “persuading people that fiction was my natural thing, not nonfiction.” Alexander Hemon’s The Lazarus Project and Marilynne Robinson’s Home were front-runners. Salvatore Scibona’s The End, a debut novel published by independent publisher Graywolf Press, was also nominated. Gail Godwin presented the award.
In nonfiction, Annette Gordon Reed’s The Hemingses of Monticello took the award. Reed opened her acceptance speech saying that “today is my birthday.” Jane Meyer’s The Dark Side and Jim Sheeler’s Final Salute were also closely watched contenders. Author and editor of Washington Post Book World Marie Arana presented the award. She praised all the finalists for their “uncompromising commitment to truth.”