The National Book Awards doled out top prizes to authors Susan Choi and Sarah M. Broom Wednesday night, marking the organization’s 70th anniversary.
The ceremony, held at Wall Street’s Cipriani ballroom, was hosted by LeVar Burton, who began the evening by noting the power of storytelling. “Literature and its place in civilization is unparalleled,” Burton said. “It is the stories that we tell each other that define who we are, why we’re here, what our mission is in life. It is the storytelling that holds our civilization together.”
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Posted by National Book Foundation on Friday, November 15, 2019
For the presentation of the evening’s previously announced Lifetime Achievement awards, Burton was joined by special guests John Waters and Ann Patchett, who introduced Edmund White and Oren J. Teicher, respectively. The second — and much-anticipated — part of the program celebrated authors in five categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translated literature and young people’s literature.
Susan Choi’s fifth novel “Trust Exercise,” a bildungsroman that turns its gaze on elite high school students in the 1980s, took home the prestigious prize for fiction. Sarah M. Broom’s debut novel “The Yellow House” was named the winner of the nonfiction category. “Somehow and still, even with and through it all,” Broom said during her acceptance, “the work stands. Nothing can stand in for it, I have learned, because the work is the work is the work. And this honor will buoy me as I make the next one.”
The evening’s poetry award went to Arthur Sze for “Sight Lines,” with the honor of young people’s literature going to Martin W. Sandler for “1919 The Year That Changed America.” László Krasznahorkai received the translated literature prize for his work “Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming,” which was translated from Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet.
A full list of the 2019 National Book Awards finalists and winners can be found here.