Each year the National Book Foundation presents awards to winners in four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature.
The four winners were announced in a ceremony in New York hosted by Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
Established in 1950, the National Book Award is one of the most prestigious literary awards in the United States. Past recipients include William Faulkner, Alice Walker, Philip Roth and Adrienne Rich.
The winners were narrowed down from a pool of 1,432 submissions. A panel of writers, literary critics and booksellers in each category came up with a list of 10 titles announced in September and narrowed it down to five finalists in October.
The New York Times coverage of the awards can be found here.
Here are this year's winners:
The Good Lord Bird, by James McBride
Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry's master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town--with Brown, who believes he's a girl. Over the ensuing months, Henry--whom Brown nicknames Little Onion--conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859--one of the great catalysts for the Civil War. An absorbing mixture of history and imagination.
James McBride is an accomplished musician and author of the American classic The Color of Water.New York Times review.
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the prison of belief, by Lawrence Wright
A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, the now-classic study of al-Qaeda's 9/11 attack. Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with current and former Scientologists--both famous and less well known--and years of archival research, Wright uses his investigative ability to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.
Incarnadine: poems, by Mary Szybist
ary Szybist's richly imagined encounters offer intimate spaces and stagings for experiences that are exploratory and sometimes explosive. Through the lens of an iconic moment, the Annunciation of an unsettling angel to a bodily young woman, Szybist describes the confusion and even terror of moments in which our longing for the spiritual may also be a longing for what is most fundamentally alien to us. In a world where we are so often asked to choose sides, to believe or not believe, to embrace or reject, Incarnadine offers lyrical and brilliantly inventive alternatives.
Young People's Literature
The Thing About Luck, by Cynthia Kadohata
Summer knows that kouun means "good luck" in Japanese, and this year her family has none of it. Just when she thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong, an emergency whisks her parents away to Japan--right before harvest season. Summer and her little brother, Jaz, are left in the care of their grandparents, who come out of retirement in order to harvest wheat and help pay the bills. The thing about Obaachan and Jiichan is that they are old-fashioned and demanding, and between helping Obaachan cook for the workers, covering for her when her back pain worsens, and worrying about her lonely little brother, Summer just barely has time to notice the attentions of their boss's cute son. But notice she does, and what begins as a welcome distraction from the hard work soon turns into a mess of its own. Having thoroughly disappointed her grandmother, Summer figures the bad luck must be finished--but then it gets worse. And when that happens, Summer has to figure out how to change it herself, even if it means further displeasing Obaachan. Because it might be the only way to save her family.