tv 2016 National Book Awards CSPAN November 27, 2016 4:00pm-5:50pm EST
eye last night, and i had a layover in phoenix. everyone on the plane was so nice to me. my mother couldn't come, she had to work. i tried to focus on my travels. a girl came up from behind. the tight hallway was becoming congested. excuse me, can we get by, she said. she paused briefly to introduce herself. my name is jade, i live in the room at the end of the hall, and this is my mother. jade was from new york. they were heading to the door of the common area with a bag full of trash. i repeated my new name. i'm from nicole, i'm from los angeles.miom they tried to match me with parents. they could not. i returned to my room and began to unpack. i made the bed first, unpacked my suitcase. before i left for the airport, i had rummaged through some of my old things at my mother's housee and decided to take them. everyone loved cheerleaders, and i could hide behind the facade of what cheerleaders are
supposed to be, happy, pretty, pampered and without worries. nearly the exact opposite of my life up to that point. i was done. i unpacked my entire room in less that an hour. i walked to the end of the hallway to jade's room. she was still unpacking and in deep conversation about which things her mom would have to take back to new york with her. i returned to my room and flopped down on the belled. i had no television -- on the bed. i had no television or radio. i listened to the conversations through the paper thin walls. did you see that little girl from california? she's here all by herself. it sounded like jade. she was talking to her mother. i know, she said, that's so sads although i couldn't see her, i was almost certain she was shaking her head. he felt sorry for me. i drowned out the rest of the conversation. i couldn't take it. i focused on the green flower on my bed spread and blinked hard to push back the tears. i didn't want anyone to pass by and notice me crying.
i sat there working hard to convince myself that i was going to be okay. to them, i was a little girl from california without parents to help her unpack. to me, i was the girl who made p it. [applause] >> thank you, nicole, for that beautiful reading. i love what you said, by the love of black well that we are all sustained. may we all continue to be sustained. thank you all for joining us and, again, nicole will meet you out in the lobby for furtherfu conversation and for a book signing. thank you some. >> follow the transition of
government on c-span as donald trump becomes the 45th president of the united united states and republicans maintain control of the u.s. house and senate. we'll take you to key events as they happen without interruption. watch live on c-span, watch on demand at c-span.org or listen on our free c-span radio app. >> thank you all very much. welcome to congress. [applause] >> as we begin the national book awards. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage larry onto wilmore. ♪ ♪ >> thank you very much. [cheers and applause] thank you. thank you very much. can everyone hear me okay? great! well, welcome. man, what a nice night. welcome to the 2016 national book awards.
yes. [applause] that's right. or, as it's going to be called next year, the trump national luxurious evening for books big league. [laughter] that's right. get used to it, everybody. [laughter] man, what a week! how was your week? [laughter] this was very bizarre for me. i had to -- wasn't tuesday night the most surreal night ever? i've been watching elections since i was a kid. i have never experienced a night like -- i don't even have a word for it. a friend of mine actually said that was exciting, wasn't it? i'm like, exciting? i don't know if i'd use the word exciting. it's exciting in the same way that an asteroid hurtling towards earth is exciting. [laughter] yeah, it's spectacular, but i think we're going to die soon here. [laughter] that's what it felt like, you know? it's hard to explain the feelings. like i voted for hillary. i'm a democrat, i'll admit it, you know --
[cheers and applause] because we were so happy at the beginning of the night, right? history was going to be made, all those kind of things, you know?d and by the end of the night, it was like everybody's dog had died. it felt horrible, right? you know, the only analogy that makes sense to me, it'swi almost -- it felt as if we were all opening a brand new, like, samsung galaxy note 7, right? [laughter] i'm like, man, this is a nice phone, right? whoo! can't wait to get it open. [laughter] right?t? because when you fluking plug in that new disturb plug in that new phone and start charging it, the only thing on your mind is i wonder what time this phone is going to be ready for me to use, right in not i wonder if i'm even going to have a phone and will my house be burned down to the ground. that's what it felt like at the end of that night. it was so bizarre. i think it is kind of unfair though for people to say thatar hillary lost. it's kind of -- well, i think she's going to win the popular
vote, right? or she's ahead like two million? a million and a half. you know, it's also fair to say that trump won, you know, i think trump had more passionate people for him especially in certain areas than hillary had for her. i mean, guys, come on. when youing think about it, trump had white people racing tt those ballots like they were voting for the first white o president, let's be honest, right? [laughter] come on, clem, let's go! might be our only chance. [laughter] oh, my god. i'm a little worried though, i have to admit, i'm a little concerned. i don't know. is america ready for a white president?rica r [laughter] i don't know. once you go black, you know how it goes. [laughter] i don't know.r] [laughter] just putting it out there.t out [laughter] oh, thank you. but it is interesting, you know, even the coming trump presidency
is even affecting the book world. i don't know if you guys knew this, but apparently bookstores have said that they're taking all copies of the constitution and moving them from the government section to the fiction section. [laughter] so, yeah. i know, very sad. and all copies of trump's books are moving from the nonfiction section to the horror section. i think that's appropriate. [laughter] i actually think that's appropriate. and now there's the other thing i can't believe, now they're also taking classic books, and they have to change the titles just to make it coincide with what's going on in the country right now. this really makes me sad. like "the great gatsby" is now going to be called the terrific, and i mean terrific, gatsby. [laughter] too many words, right? little women will now be known as little women who i'll be dating in ten years. see, that's just -- >> oh. oh, like i said that, right? [laughter] that's what he said. the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy is now the hitchhiker's guide to canada.
oh, very nice. [laughter] that's actually very helpful. pride and prejudice now has to be called pride and really -- prejudice. [laughter] yeah, i censor toed myself a little bit. a "clockwork orange" now -- oh, actually, there's no change for a "clockwork orange". [laughter] that actually is staying the same. and finally, this one really makes me sad.. my favorite, dr. seuss the cat in the hat now apparently has to be called grab 'em by the pussycat in the hat. so those are the books -- [laughter] i didn't say that, that's actually not a bad word. all right, shall we get this evening started? yes, let's do it. [applause] actually, that was really a clean joke, it just sounded like a dirty joke. really did. i wasn't going to do that joke, but billy bush egged me on. [laughter] yeah, i know.
i know. he just -- t [laughter] this is going to be a fun night. i'm actually very excited to be here. i love books. i love the fact that we celebrate books. i've always said books may be our only evidence of a civilized society at some point. and i'm starting to belief that could be true. [laughter] so thank you. thank you, everybody, who's written a book, who's edited a book, who's published a book and who has supported books. thank you very much. [cheers and applause] no, it means the world to me. in fact, just a real quick story, i sold books door to door one summer, and i wrote about this last year. and i just will tell you real quick. at the end of this, this family couldn't afford the books. at the end of the summer, i left the books there for their kids. it was one of the things that really changed my life and inspired me to do a lot of the things i'm doing, so thank you, book people, is what i want to say. and now -- [applause] yes, we need it. we need books, right? now please welcome to the stage the chairman of the national
book foundation, david steinberger. [applause] ♪ ♪ >> good evening. and on behalf of the national book foundation, i'd like to welcome you to the 67th national book awards. [applause] it's always one of the things that a makes this evening special is having so many wonderful writers in the room are. we've got multiple winners of the national book award with, we have winners of the pulitzer prize, we have winners of the newberry, the nebula, the penn-faulkner, the edgar, the o'henry, the thurber, we have writers who have been nominated
and have been finalists for every possible literary award. i'd like to recognize the writers in this room. i'm going to ask you, if you are a writer, will you stand up? please stand right now. encourage your writers to stand. [applause] and join me in acknowledging them. [cheers and applause] thank you. thank you. now, i would like to thank our sponsors who make this event possible. specifically thank you premiere sponsors, penguin random house,
barnes & noble, leadershipble, sponsors lyndon meyer book publishing papers, coral graphics and sponsors amazon, google, hachette, harper or collins, levellier foundation, alberto vitali and the zelnick charitable trust. thank you, all of you, for your support. [applause] special thank you to apple and ibooks who are hosting this year's after party. i've been told we're going to have a giant disco ball, right? where's lisa? >> yes. >> yes, right? yes. it's coming. so it's going to be right here on the balcony behind me here. you're all invited to the after party. thank you also to our after party committee, ken, rachel, jen, paul, steph and nicole.
thank you. [applause] thank you also to our dinner committee who made this evening possible. that's dita, lee, luke, deborah, nicholas, tracy and shelley. thank you. [applause] now, i'd like to thank the staff of the national book foundation that does such an amazing job and especially our executive director, our new executive director, lisa lucas. lisa -- [cheers and applause] lisa, you know, it's funny because everyone i run into this evening is saying to me, where did you find this person? she's unbelievable. we can't get over her.
i'm just glad i'm talking before she is, so it's like people aren't going to be saying, like, who's this guy talking after lisa?th but we are thrilled with lisa's drive, her enthusiasm, her devotion and commitment to the written world. she has made such a difference, and she is going to make a great difference. so thank you to lisa and her team at the foundation. [applause] i want to acknowledge in the audience also our former executive director, harold. can we get a hear hear for harold? [applause] he's still working with us through a grant with the mellonk foundation looking at translation.ro it's great to have harold. where's harold? back here somewhere, right? [applause] and finally, i want to thank my fellow board members who are so
committed to the work of the foundation. and i want to give special thanks to the members of the search committee who worked on this transition from harold to lisa, worked so hard on this and did such a great job. that is carol -- carolyn, calvin, leonard, sal and, of course, our vice chairman, morgan. thank you to the board. [applause] our mission, i was asked tonight what is the mission of the national book foundation. our mission is to increase the impact of great books on the culture. it's pretty important. so i want to thank you for being here and being part of that important mission. and to all of our finalists for this year's national book award, congratulations on your wonderful, wonderful achievement
and good luck tonight, and now on to the awards ceremony. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, david. and now to present the literarian award for outstanding service to the american literary committee is terrance hayes. [applause] now, terrance hayes is the author of lighthead, winner of the 2010 national book award and finalist for the national book critics circle award. his other books are wind in a box, hip logic and muscular music. h his honors include a writers award, a national ening dowment for the autos fellowship, a united states artist fellowship, a guggenheim fellowship and a macarthur fellowship. his most recent collection of poems was a finalist for the 2015 national book award, the
2016 national book critics circle award and received the 2106 naacp image award for great poetry.gr it gives me great pleasure to welcome terrance hayes. [cheers and applause] ♪ ♪ >> all right. often over the years i've been asked why a group of black poets would call itself cave canem. it's latin. [laughter] because blackness, like poetry, means different things, i like to say. for example, once upon a time two black points visiting the lost city of pompei entered the house of the tragic poet and saw upon entering a sign reading
cave canem on the gate. later, when they had the idea for a retreat for black poets, that's what they called it, cave canem.le latin for beware of the dog. what does it mean to be the dog guarding the house of poetry? maybe toi and cornelius never paused to ask such a question, or 20 years later they are still asking the question. because blackness, like poetry, means many things, they welcomed black poets of every shade and age, from everywhere and the middle of nowhere, spoken worders, academics, experimentalists, formalists, students and professors, ex-cons, exiles, weirdoes, librarians, atheists, priests and piece he'ses. piece he'ses. i ain't bullshitting. [laughter]
the initial gathering of 26 poets included the 82-year-old granddaughter of a confederate general as well as a former discking jockey who decided to live in homeless shelters so he'd have time studying to become a poet. now, with well over 300 fellows, cave canem is one of the most diverse, one of the most diverse poetry organizations in the country. in 1968 when a white policeman erroneously shot 33-year-old black poet henry dumsa in a subway station in harlem, no one imagined a nation of black poets could exist. it's such a futuristic ideas. a world in which the descendants to of slaves become poets. elizabeth bishop said poetry is a way of thinking with one's feelings. and lucille clifton, one of cave
canem's first teachers, one of the first poets to see the value of such a place, famously wrote: come celebrate with me that every day something has tried to kill me and has failed. [applause] imagine 20 years of thinking with one's feelings while something is trying to kill you. all kinds of magical things open up in such a place. it happens during the fellows' reading sometimes. for fellows readings, points age 18-88, like i say, all styles and dispositions get up to the open mic to read a poem. it's amazing. the summer i taught there, there was this brother from chicago, avery. a strange, brilliant brother tuned to some supernatural frequency.
a cross between sunra and donny hathaway. so when avery's turn to share a poem came, he started singing. where were you when they killed that boy? where were you when they killed that boy. i thought he was just going to sing a little bit before the poem. but he went on like that.go singing the blues. an emmett till gospel like five or six minutes, walking around the rooming like he was possessed. would you kill the men whold killed that boy, he was singing. would you kill for that boy? would you kill for that boy? b would you live for that boy? would you live for that boy? church. he was sweating and panting when he was done.as and so i, i tried to breathe, and i couldn't breathe. i started heading for the door. i left the room, and i found myself kneeling i don't know how
long. i cussed him alone in the darkness outside, motherfucker. and when i was done, i straightened my face, and i was about to head back inside to the meeting when i was met by a crowd of people who were weeping and hyperventilating. i thought i was the only one. he cleared the room. so maybe half an hour later, the reading continued. no one could say what had happened exactly.e and even this here is just about 5% of what happened. what would happen if you brought a bunch of black poets together in a safe place? if you became the black and faithful dog guarding that place, what would happen? we know the poets affiliated with such a mace would flourish -- a place would flourish, because they have. but we also know many more k brilliant, up affiliated black poets remain imperilled or overlooked or just willfully
writing alone. writing is lonely all the time.e no organization can change that. but cave canem is a kind of fortification. even if you are not a poet or black, it is a fortification of your language, your history, your future. we have seen a black president, and we are seeing what kind of president comes after a black president. we've seen -- [applause] and we still are seeing black men and women killed by people sworn to protect them. our lives remain in danger, which is to say your lyes remain in -- your lives remain in danger. we need arts organizations like cave canem, organizations that put writers in schools, homeless shelters, prisons and myriad underserved communities.
sometimes your living room is at underserved community.ie nonprofit arts organizations need your support, your loyalty, your bark and your bite. we must be the dogs guarding the house. we are here tonight to say thank you for your work, toi and cornelius. thank you. you've done a good job. [applause] you have made possible so many lives, most of which my own. please come on up. [applause] ♪ ♪
the innkeeper for the birth of cave canem, father francis. our first retreat staff, terrance hayes and michelle elliot. our first faculty, elizabeth, alexander and -- [inaudible] our productive and hard working board members during the past 20 years, our current board president, jacqueline jones lemond, our office and retreat staff and all of those who have given their knowledge, skills, money and love. foremost, i want to thank my beloved friends, sarah and cornelius, my partners in crime, for the sheer passion that we have been so privileged toto enjoy. each year in the opening circle on the first night, more than 50 african-american poets look across the room, some of whom
have never worked with another african-american poet, and see themselves reflected back. their beauty and power. there is an outpouring of tears, gratitude and joy. all over the country there are fellows writing poems and building communities who have gone through this transformation. in 2015 three cave canem poets won top literary awards. robin lewis won the national book award for voyage of the disabled venus -- [applause] gregg pardlow, the pulitzerer prize for digest -- [applause] and ross gay, the new york book critics circle award for catalog of unabashed gratitude. [applause] i believe that the cave canem
poets will be the flesh and blood of the work that our country needs so urgently to do, especially now. this energy does not belong to us, it was passed down through the creative genius of oururthrg ancestors which was their response to slavery andd oppression. we do them honor by passing it on. joy is an act of resistance. thank you. [applause] >> one of the great things abou cave canem is the ability to see one another in a room, and i have that feeling right now. we're all seeing each over. and thank you -- each other. and thank you, national book foundation, for seeing what
we've done. thank you. [applause] >> one more hand, everybody. wow. [applause] i wow. very powerful. that's what i call controlling the narrative. you know? whenever our people get to control the narrative, we get to hear amazing stories, and i think it makes all of us better. and now to present the medal for contribution to distinguished letters is dr. william kelly, director of the research libraries responsible for the
library's four research centerss and their 460 staff members. now, his responsibilities include collection strategy, acquisition and accessibility, researcher engagement, preservation, long-term and short-term fellowships and taking a lead role in important research initiatives such as the recruitment of curators, renovations and preserving and expanding the use of the most democratically accessible of research collections. kelly began his tenure at nypl in january 2016 and previously he was interim chancellor of the city university of new york, chairman of the research foundation of the city university of new york and spent eight successful years as president of the cuny graduate center. he's the current chairman of the guggenheim memorial foundation, so it gives me great pleasure to welcome dr. william p. kelly. [applause] ♪
♪ >> good evening and thank you, larry. it's a privilege to present national book foundation's lifetime achievement medal for distinguished contribution to american letters to robert a. caro, a much-deserved honor, this, and a singularly appropriate one. bob's career has been crowned with laurel. he has been widely recognized as the greatest biographer of our times, one might well argue of all time. he has been celebrated as the most consequential interpreter of the american 20th century. his magisterial accounts of the careers of robert moses and lyndon johnson have fundamentally altered our understanding of the acquisition and the deployment of power.
his stature in the first rank of american journalists is beyond dispute. his passion for getting the story right and his commitmentnt and that of his great partner,nt ina cing aro, to -- caro, to pursue every lead, every source, every archival trace is the stuff of legend. his many honors and awards including two pulitzers, a national book award, two national book critics circle awards, the gold medal from theh american academy, the parkman prize, the national humanities medal bear witness to that pursuit. so, too, his impact on a generation of journalists who have profited from his example. the medal we present tonight acknowledges bob's accomplishments as biographer, historian and and journalist, but it celebrates something larger, more capacious,
subsuming. it honors bob's contribution to american letters. as such, it recognizes in this company of writers the power of the word and of bob's genius for wielding that authority in our common interest. at the heart of bob's achievement is language itself, its capacity to make us present, to feel, to engage with actors across time and space and to change the way we see and to inform the way we live. that power resides in words, in sentences, in the alignment of paragraphs and in the arrangement of pages. if bob's accuracy is a function of his attention to detail, his narrative powers derive from getting the language right; every clause, every preposition, every semicolon.
bob's work has been described as shakespearean, most often in reference to the history plays. and, yes, his mastery of character and of narratives design, his rendering of ambition and its discontents call to mind richard, henry iv, henry 5, but it is on the level of language that bob's affinities are most apparent. rhythm, balance, the poise of his sentences undergird and drive the stories he tells.ir that is the source of their power, the propulsion that drives bob's chapters and books forward, the pulse that keeps us turning pages through the night. bob's sentences and the books they constitute have made us conscious of the ubiquity of power, of its presence in the most intimate aspects of our lives, of its capacity for great good and even greater or --
greater evil, of the need to recognize its often invisible exercise and the imperative to resist its abuse. that is a gift of a rare order, never more critical than in these days.ev please join me in saluting the master of american letters, robert a. caro. e pplause] ♪ ♪ [applause] >> well, bill, that was such a wonderful introduction, that i'm reminded of what lyndon johnson used to say when he got an especially wonderful
introduction. he would say that he wished his parents were alive to hear it. [laughter]en because his father would have loved it, and his mother would have believed it. [laughter] i've discovered in the last couple of weeks since i was told i had gotten this lifetime award that there's one particularly nice aspect of getting a lifetime award. it makes you think back overte your lifetime. and doing that has made me remember some wonderful things that i have forgotten for a long time. of course, when you start remembering, you remember some tough times too. i remember robert moses, who was then at the height of his father, saying i -- of his power saying i never talk to you, my family will never talk to you, my friends will never talk to you. [laughter] and then he had another sentence. i can't remember the exact words, but the import was nobody who ever will enter into
contract with the city or state will ever talk to you. [laughter] and i remember thinking, what da can i do now? [laughter] i remember running out of money. my contract for the power broker was $5,000 which i had gotten $2,500 in advance. ina and i used to joke that we were doing the book for the world's smallest advance. but for those of you who are writers in the room, that stopped being funny very quickly. [laughter] and i remember seven years of listening to people say no one will ever read a book about robert moses. but looking back on it, if you say that life is in a way a journey, it's been a greatat journey. i've always loved finding things out and trying to explain them. and that's what happens with these books. with robert moses i had been a young journalist who got
interested in political power. i had won some minor pol journalistic awards -- believe me, really minor, but when you're young and you win any kind of an award, you think you know everything. but when robert moses finally, after several years, agreed to talk to me and he started talking, i realized in the first moments that he was talking that i knew nothing about political power, that this man was operating and thinking on a level far beyond anything, far above anything i had ever thought. and i had to try to understand it. time and again as he would say something, i remember thinking, wow, i never thought about that. it was great for me, getting those lessons into what political power -- not the kind we learn about in textbooks, but real political power, the raw, naked essence of power -- really consists of.th then there was learning the
texas hill country, that remote, impoverished, isolated area where lyndon johnson grew up. i was interviewing people who had grown up with johnson there, and i realized that i wasn't really understanding them. therefore, i really wasn't understanding lyndon johnson. so ina and i moved there for the better or part of three years to learn this whole new world which was so different from the world of new york in which i had grown up. i was about 39 then when i started.wn up. let me tell you that living in and learning, having to learn a whole new world when you're that age, that was a great gift to me. but, of course, if life is in a way a journey, the most important thing about a journey is your companions. getting this award made me think of the people who have been my companions, and that has been the most wonderful thing of all. in 1972 in my fifth year after starting "the power broker," i
finally got an agent, lynn nesbit, and i got a new editor -- [applause] and i got a new editor, bob gottlieb as alfred knopf. ms. and i also got another editor at knopf, kathy horrigan, who has -- [applause] who has worked with bob gottlieb on all my books. bob has been my editor, lynn has been my agent and kathy has worked on my books ever since. 1972. to save you the trouble of calculating, that's 44 years ago. [laughter] so for all that time, 44 years, i have had the same editors and the same agent. together, we have worked on five books. whatever lifetime acheesm ii have, bob and lynn and kathy are part of it. those three people were with me 44 years ago, and they're with me today.
that that fact alone makes looking back on my life terrific. another person has been a big part of my life, sonny. sonny came to knopf -- [applause] in 1987. so sonny is a relative newcomer in my life. [laughter] 29 years is barely more than a quarter of a century, hardly worth mentioning. [laughter] it has meant a lot to me to have sonny with me. whenever i have a manuscript, i go in to see him. and in complimenting the manuscript, he always says, picks out the very things that i most wanted readers to get out of the book. he has a gift, and it's quite a rare gift in my experience, for seeing, for grasp ping and being -- grasping anding with able to explain -- and being able to explain the very heart
of a book. another thing about sonny, not once in 29 years has he asked me or had anyone else ask me when am i going to be finished with my book. [laughter] ms. -- i have literally never once in 44 years heard that question at kno to pf. never once as i proposed expanding the number of volumes in the years of lyndon john p.r.n. from three to four or and now to five has he had any words for me except words of encouragement. thanks, sonny. there is another person at knopf who i especially want to thank, andy hughes. [applause] andy is the person most responsible for the fact that my books, long though they are, are always beautiful books.
in addition, my insistence on rewriting and rewriting andite rewriting. rewriting with my books in galleys and even in page proofs, rewriting even in the very last stage of page proofs causes a lot of problems. somehow andy always solves them. thanks for that, andy. [laughter] since i have been at the same publishing house for 44 years, i have other people at knopf to thank.knopf tony, whose sport of the long johnson project has been unestimating, paul, who in moments of crisis -- and we've had a lot of moments of crisis -- has always been there for me. anne, nicholas, russell. as i walk around the halls of my publishing house, they seem to me to be filled not only with friends, but with the friends of decades.
and, of course, there is the companion of my whole life, the most important companion in everything. life when i learned that i was getting this award and started thinking back over my life, naturally the first person i thought of was ina. i remembered her selling the house. i didn't really care much about the house, but ina loved that house. but we were really, had no place else to turn for money, and i came home one day and she came up to me and before i got out of the car she said, we sold the house today. i remembered how she never let me know all the indignities of being broke. it was only after the new yorker bought "the power broker" that she said now i can walk past the butcher's again. i had never even known that we were unable to pay bills there, so that she had had to choose a different shopping area. i remember when i told her that i wasn't understanding the hill
country and we would have to move there, maybe for two orco three years. [laughter] she said why can't you write a biography of napoleon? [laughter]can' [applause] but, of course, then she said what she always says, sure. and, of course, ina has been so much more than that. i read sometimes about historians who have teams of three or perhaps four researchers. i have a team of researchers too, and it's ina. she is the whole team. the only person i have ever trusted to do research on myer books. ina has, of course, written two wonderful books of her own, but somehow despite that, she has always found time for mine. thanks, ina. so what i would -- [applause]
so when i was told some weeks ago that i would be getting this award, i started remembering all this.i so it is with a very full hearth that i thank the national book foundation, its director, lindao lucas, who wrote me thatte wonderful letter to tell me i had won and all the other people at the foundation. this award has made me remember a life, and that's been a great gift to me. thank you all. [applause]
[applause] >> very nice. i love to see that in the oscars we need you. i am not finished >> that was so great, so heartfelt. boy, i'm so inspired. i want to go out and read all these books. that sounds fascinating, everything he was talking about. everything. i want to meet all the people he talked about and everything about robert moses too. but, look, we're going to have a short dinner break, and then we're going to come back and continue the awards. i hear they're serving some very delicious steak, so enjoy that. word of caution though, if you eat a piece of meat and something happens, you don't feel good, and, you know, everything you say starts not making sense, nobody can understand you, you probably got a trump steak.
so be very careful. i had to stick another one in there. come on, guys. all right, enjoy your dinner, we'll see you right after. [applause] ♪ i hope the dinner was lovely enter now for the lead good part to find that what you have been wondering belinda national book award 2016? our fabulous house to said is this saying but that also looks as an act of
resistance for. >> so i say putting on our dresses and tuxedos to be together to celebrate the literature is an act of resistance. a reminder reaching any fear -- prepare our country and be together and still feel joy and happiness. i am brand new, is my first year as did my position as executive director at the national book foundation. [applause] and i am super nervous. my first time on this stage but and that reminds me it
is a profound and it is truly the jury in their reader one and ended up -- in the process of reading books and loving them and reading them with joy and empathy and more magic has been brought into a life that i can never truly express. i believe deeply had a truly that this work matters. i am a black woman obviously [applause] and that is a source of
pride for me but also inspiration and i reminded every day as a black woman in this with my job to make sure there is more seats at the ever expanding table. one that includes anyone with a capacity for of wonder or curiosity your passion which is to say say, everyone matter what they look like your food they love for where they come from. [applause] being up here in general is very emotional and especially at this time where many of us in this rumination find ourselves oriented at the 67 national book award those that give us how open and comfort that they light our way and distract us and bring us together.
the simple act of reading creates of meat -- committee felt always be will come and so my deepest hope is every single person in this room will join the foundation to make a commitment to do so. >> i have blown way past my time limit but i have a lot of things to give. so first of all they accuse some much to our hosts. it is of pleasure and privilege to have you here. you are super funny. and also to our generous sponsors in without you
literally we would not be here. thank you to apple for hosting tonight sparry stick around and there will be a big disco ball that will look like my dress and we are grateful to each and every one of that partners to help us run our programs because we're more than just a bob reward but we bring those into the fold but to do that through our programs five and andrew 35 and was
organization that house wants a i promised him i would embarrass him but with this organization he made them work possible they are things he thought of orate a to do list to hundred 78 tax clap and is just an amazing man working at the foundation began i will never forget the gift he has given me with a beautiful transition into an organization.
[applause] up next is the staff that the national book foundation they are our everything. so shot out to courtney, ben , laura, to jordan's men brcs small but might be and i am proud of all of you. and now for the judges to have a combined total 1,464 books to identify the 20 finalist titles and of finalist that you will see tonight. fink you for entering and
building a strong relationship with your ups person. [laughter] where would we be today without all of these remarkable and talented writers in this room? thank you for your work and spirit and vision involves us to better understand who we are, where we come from and where we might help to go you allow us to dream and understand. . . >> and so why are we here tonight? why did we bother when this
world is such a disaster to get this gussied up in our gowns and our tuxedos -- and i see you, if you at no time wear one -- if you didn't wear one -- [laughter] what are we to do? aren't there more important matters to attend to? no. it's about trying to seek out what the wholeness of the human experience is.. our mission at national book foundation is to celebrate the best of american literature and to expand its audience and to enhance the cultural value off great writing in america. we need books right now more than we ever have. our writers more than we ever have. we need thoughtful critique, we need stories and poems and novels and graphic memoirs and essays and thoughtful prose, and we need them to inspire us and to recognize us and to affirm our place in the world. we need literary activists ofe .
all kinds who are going to help every kind of reader find and share in the beauty and power oe books. but more than anything, we need to reach readers, new readers or and the already initiated, younh and adult, immigrant and citizen, of every religion, race and politics. because i believe now more than ever we need to come together, we need to understand who we can be, how much there is to achieve yet and how far that we can go. and there is no better way to start the conversations that we need to have than by reading and connecting through the books that we are celebrating here tonight, the 20 books that wee are celebrating here tonight stirred us. [applause] and so i hope that you will join me not just tonight, but throughout the year in this mission to change the world. .. to change the world one book at a time. [applause] i ask you to believe in us and
the foundation and abuse books and to support us and help us turn that into action in the days and the weeks and years to come. we have so much to celebrate and read select take comfort tonight in each other and then get the party started and tomorrow let's get to work. [applause] [cheering] >> one more time. i don't know about you guys that woman is my spirit animal. have technology. she has thanked me like three
or four times from this. i think you for doing this and anxiety -- inviting me here. i am honored to be here. i always joke about how i act and i write. i always said i put things in the category.ac i've always said writers were the smartest people in the room especially in television. if it doesn't seem like it.bu but i also believe that great writing requires you to be ant. athlete of the heart. we need our athletes are nowow more than ever. we need to raise the game now more than ever. thank you.
that's i'm talking about. [applause]. of course all of the starts of young people and getting young people involved in reading and to prevent the national book award in young people's literature is catherine. catherine patterson. she has twice one of the newberry medal. very good. in the great hopkins when the national won the national book award in 1979. and a newberry honor book. and the memorial award in 2006. in 2000 was named a living legend by the library of congress.living
no chair could have asked for a more wise, hard-working and at the same time congenial crew. i think you all from the bottom of my heart.om oft. the good news was that this was a good year for young people's book. it was a good year. choices were painful once. far too many truly deserving books have to be left behindlefb as we came together for a long list and then to the final list that we are honoring tonight.t. a deliberation considered in the four distinct categories. how does the book appeal and the class of its construction. how does it appeal to the heart and the richness and
honesty of its emotional edification. with the quality of its voice and how does it appeal and contribute to the vast conversation that is written for children and young adults. in other words, is this a book not only for our time but a book that will stand the test of the year? we believe that we had chosen those books. and now it is with admiration for the strength the beauty, and the timely and timeless truth of their accomplishments s that we applaud their creators.
when i was 16 years old. going to the public library to try to get a library card. we were told the library was not for colored people. i'm so honored for this. thank you. with a wonderful teacher in the elementary school that said read and i tried to read everything.. i loved books. thank you indra.ju
thank you with a national book foundation. [applause]. this is an intended --rt. incredibly big group effort. thank you for all of us. the engine that drove march. happy birthday chris., chris, thank you everybody. the sacrifices made at my end of the deal. my children and their generation.erit end of message and a challenge to our incoming president.is i challenge you to take this into your hands and use your heart to be transformed by
it. none of us are alone in this. not even you. i pitched it to thetc congressman when i was 24 years old. i didn't know any better. when i was a kid we didn't have money for books so we would go to the library and happened to be the only place that had air conditioning in georgia. i was raised by a single mom and she couldn't be here tonight but she made me promise that i would stay here and watch this at christmas. we did it.
i want to thank chris for saying yes when i pitched thiss over the table i want to thank all of the publishers who said no. i want to thank john lewis for saying yes. there are two important lessons from this one is a story of the movement that must be told. it must be told to every child, young and old we all must know it if what if we are to understand the politics of today. until, let the prejudice be buried once and for all. [applause]. thank you to everyone and
thank you to lee walden to say you can have it back in now. let me think one more time my mom. there was no math that would say i should be here. there's none that said i should have this award. that you'd be able to grow up with the son of the muslim andon immigrant they do not know his name. you persevered you got me through it and we made the best of it. thank you. [applause].
wow, john lewis everybody. to me it makes sense. he's like a real superhero. and little did they know that racism just made him stronger and only made him stronger. as a national hero. to present the national book award for poetry. an acclaimed poet and musician. they include the newest conflict resolution. and her memoir one of the
literary award. for creative nonfiction. and the fellowship. fellowship. she is at work in the musical and album of music. she hopes to chair up excellence. it gives me great pleasure to introduce joy. [applause]. >> what a celebration. joy is here. i wish introduce the judges for this year's national book
award in poetry.group they include mark gibbons, jericho brown katie ford and therese winston. we makers and the stories and readers of literature all need each other. as we navigate the open heart of this country. the concise conscience in the world magic. of history and prophecy. we need poetry as we move forward from last tuesday poetry carries the spirit of the people and is necessary at the doorways of transformation. this acknowledges the accompaniments of that. they go through to the other side.
for six months we have read, and reread in discussed books, homes and what matters and what continues to matter in the making of poetry. we read nearly 300 books of -- books of poetry together. and the incredible deserving finalists. the performance of being human, for collected poems 1974 toe 2004.
i need to get my first thank you to my parents. they're here tonight they always build our filled our house with books and never questioned was impractical and imparted first as it might be. i think he was more nervous than i was. i love you and i wouldn't have would have made this book without you. when i walked in this evening the very next person that greeted me at the door.as sai that apartment was their fear.
they have joe has done so much for this book and once he found out he was nominated has been so incredibly supportive. they worked on design as well as same hall.of the all of them who i am missing. i want to acknowledge those who labor in the small press world. they have published my work and has in translation.
my friends in chicago. they had named it so much better. finally the performance of becoming human comes out off the idea that literature and poetry in particular can serve a as a means of producing social and historical memory and at this moment as many people in this room are very concerned about what the future is goingou to bring i too am incredibly concerned about that. many types of abuse in state violence and exploitation.
there you go. the russian american journalism. including the brothers in the american tragedy.e road t the man without the face. she is a contributing opinion writer to the new york times and a frequent contributor to new york times books.rnegie this would be weird if millenials were there. he's actually only nine yearsaue old. she has done a lot. a longtime resident of moscow. maybe that's how good the vodka is there. she now lives in new york.t it gives me great pleasure to introduce her.
[applause]. the vodka that was was very helpful in making this decision. you already know it was a lotha of books. it was such a lot of books. i was very impressed with how many books on history we have to read this year. if my 15-year-old daughter who is actually here today because she have the job. if they did nothing but thena books that were nominated.
should be a real educated person. i want to thank the judges who i will miss you greatly. the judges were sent there. , thank you. yes. we produced the long list in the short list. it seems to us like maybe it was a very heavy list. if he sought the stacks ourson was definitely the highest stack. highest. there is a very heavy left. heay and it was a great list and somehow over the last week it was a list that has begun to seal ever more timely and urgent and urgency in our
in my father larry rogers who from the moment i could read books. i would like to think. b for me represents the beauty here is my father-in-law i would like to take him.. actually the book sort of came out of a conversation that we have. of course would like to thank my wife is spent many days listening to early drafts and would always encourage me and has really encouraged me to this point. just been my biggest advocate.
of course i would like to think mission books i like to think my editor katie ofth course we've spent many hours talking to. she of course believed in my work. i like to think clyde for from the beginning believing in me that i could produce the history of racist ideas. i like to think my agent [applause]. i think when we first met i was 29 or 30 years old. she believed that i could
produce this 29-year-old. i would like to thank the newest addition to my family some of you have seen her tonight my six month old daughter [applause]. when she truly is the best award that i've received all year. no offense to the national book awards. her name we named terry imani. in swahili this means faith. her name of course has a new meaning for us. as the first black president is set to leave the white
house and as a man who was emphatically endorsed by the ku klux klan was about to enter. i just want to let everyone know that i spent years looking at the absolute worst of america its horrific history of racism but in the end i never lost faith. the terror of racism i never lost faith. i never lost faith that because for every racist idea there was anti- racist idea. ofh there was a lifesaver. and in the midst of the human ugliness of racism there was the human beauty there is the
human beauty. that is my i have faith. and i will never lose my faith that you and i can create an antiracist america is nonexistent where americans are no longer manipulated. [applause]. and so i want to thank my daughter for that. i want to thank all of those in history all of this people across the nation who are learning to be antiracist who had dedicated their lives to
anti- racist work. you are my rock of faith. you are the nations rock of faith and i dedicate my word to all of you. thank you. [applause]. [applause]. let me tell you something. the national book foundation has woke. that was very nice and a shutout to the baby and why. you can find out the hard wayata
i am starting to feel good for the first time in eight days.[aa my thanks to lisa for givingg me the opportunity to work with a group of very distinguished writers who are also strong and thoughtfuldi readers of fiction. two other judges could not be with us. it's an honor to work with these great writers and fun too. judging the national book award requires that you know commitment of hundreds of
hours as an educator, i have a day job so i did what my students called double counting. estimated in one domain.nove teaching a course called a novel novel of the year.r.[laugh it focuses on the 2016 national book award forbo fiction. the students in this classss ever read all of the shortlisted books.uthors they steadied their studied their agents, their editors. they are really learning about the ways that you work to support literary fiction. it's been a really fun class. students had formed their own winners. tonight
they had even applied a computer program a model to try to predict the redner -- the winner. here, not so much. then among the official judges. we have in fact found ourselves in strikingly close accord throughout the process. they whittled down the 400 books to arrive at a place of no compromise where everyone of us by the judges love everyone every one of the five finalists.
[applause]. >> i will buy that for a dollar. in my wallet sorry. i'm very superstitious. i guess the last four months since the book came out have been like so incredible just like today is this like that make-a-wish foundation. in my dying or something. everyone's been nice to me. i don't really get it. it's also confusing in my model for acceptance speeches as the oscars the first one i saw was w7.
in any home one. i was very crushed. i never thought that i would become a writer and actually be one of these things. it's all really neat. for 18 years i was gonna say who gets to stay at the same publishing house for 18 years. and they go through the whole thing. while done sir. my first book was the intuition us. we have the weird job of translating my sensibility to readers and book sellers and critics so i would like to thank allison rich michael goldsmith.
over the years i have these ideas for books and i said i'm not sure if it's a zombie book. he's like just write it and we will do it. that will always be the case. no matter what idea he comes up with. what is can i get out get out there and publish it incredibly no matter what it is and i just remember the hundred pages of the book last summer. he was very excited i and i want to mess up the next 100 pages. thank you for all of your faith over the years. it's meant a lot to let
someone in your corner. thank you sir.lause] [applause]. my daughter maddie is at home watching on the screen she didn't go to bed. you're 12 years old. i really started living and the date you were born. thank you so much for your ongoing gift to my life. beckett, is three and i know who you are. i'm really excited to find out. it's so much fun watching it with you. and you've you of all of these ideas about things i'm excited to see how they develop. and then my book is dedicated to my wife julie.
it's okay writing good books when you're unhappy.ooks better writing better books when you're happy. lee and the oprah winfrey frame that the word out and i think people read my i don't know. and then over is like i think will do that. this time last year i was finishing up the book you never know what's can happen in a year. who knows if i can be a yearar
from now. outside is the blasted hellhole. but who knows what's can happen a year from now. people have been promoting in that. i'm sort of stunned. then a hit on something that h was making me feel better. i guess it was hopefully all those other folks because everybody make art and fight the power. it seemed like a good formula for me anyway. [applause]. if you have a trouble remembering that a good a