tv 2017 National Book Awards CSPAN November 19, 2017 7:59pm-9:46pm EST
cause -- [inaudible] revolving door lobbying is that congress itself has effectively lobotomized itself. they no longer hire high quality staff that stay for long periods of time. now what we see is people spend on congressional staff and working at the white house and federal agencies just long must have for them to be able to go out and make some money. so i think the takeaway here might be to try the bring back that public spirit of really actually wanting to serve for the greater good and working in government for that as an end in itself, in the necessarily a steppingstone to the next one. ..
[applause] >> the national book awards are a huge part of that mission, and it is a thrill to be here with everyone tonight recognizing exceptional literature and increasing the visibility of books which are among the most powerful weapons we have against what has lately felt like an often hostile world. i think this past year has felt overwhelming and disheartening to many people. it's also felt exhausting for women, for people of color, for immigrants, for muslims, for the lgbtq community, for so many groups. to remain on the defensive in
nearly every waking hour takes its toll. for some of us, books provide a welcome escape into someone else's world. for others they serve as a valuable resource for arming ourselves with indispensabling knowledge of history. but all books offer something we need so desperately right now; broadened perspective. books allow us to view circumstances through the eyes of someone else. they cultivate empathy. they inspire action. they make us feel less alone and expose us to an experience we couldn't imagine on our own. books matter, and tonight helps remind us of that. [applause] tonight is a night to celebrate, so let us get started with the honorrings. the first of the awards
presented tonight are lifetime achievement awards to make sure that we kick things off with a general sense of inferiority for the vast majority of attendees. [laughter] we begin by honoring a man whose service to the literary community in unparalleled. the first of these lifetime achievement awards is literarian award for outstanding contribution to the american literary community. which is given annually to a group or person who has proven a remarkable dedication to expanding the audience for books and reading. here to present the literarian award is none other than president bill clinton. [applause] ♪ ♪ >> but i have to read your bio, sir. i'm sorry, i know they're applauding. hold on.
[applause] please sit down while i tell you a little about the president. william jefferson clinton, the first democratic president in his six decade to be elected twice led the united states to the longest economic expansion in history including the creation of more than 22 million jobs. you can clap for that. [applause] after leaving the white house president clinton established the working on the causes he
cared about since the founding the foundation has endeavored to help build more resilient communities by implementing programs that improve people's health, strengthen local economies and protect the environment. in addition to his foundation, he served as the top united nations envoy for the indian recovery effort, the envoy to haiti and partnered numerous times with presidents george h. w. bush and george w. bush to support relief efforts for the communities devastated by natural disasters. born in arkansas and lives in new york with his wife, secretary clinton. [applause] i owe cynthia an apology for barging in.
[laughter] i'm glad to be here. it is a special honor for me to be able to present this award to president and ceo of scholastic. the editors and all the other groups that make it possible for books to become reality. if any of you are willing i would like you to organize our home so we can walk through the halls. we've lived in this old farmhouse and keep trying to find new places to put our boo
books. i only have three minutes. maybe for. i come from a family of voracious readers and the last few years. anybody that likes to read should have a good appreciation of getting it together and getting it to the reader. it's the way that america and the world should work. tonight i give the literary and award to people who've made
reading accessible for as many others as possible who connect authors to their readers. nobody deserves this more than robinson. because of him, scholastic among other things has been a wonderful partner with the foundations to small to feel project which was started by hillary and chelsea several years ago to make reading an important part of talking and storytelling to young children 80% of whose brains have formed by the age of three and we now know that by the age of four, low income kids have by the
average herd of 30 million fewer words than children from higher income families. because of people like this, the gap is race, ethnicity and income and the readiness to start school is closing. [applause] for the families to read to their kids where the doctor's clinic is doing well care visits for what will soon be 5,000 where parents can't afford a washing machine have to go and
now we are filling them with books for 80 new parks being built around america and what will soon be many more that are now filled with books. i just got back from the tour of the project in baltimore, jackson and st. louis. in baltimore, someone shows up and says we've got to meet him by thlead himby the hand and gi. the designated leader was a 40-year-old mother of a 4-year-old child and she said i got started in this way and a tragically her husband was four years older than she was in the tight of a heart attack one night in his sleep so he or she is, she wakes up in the morning, has to bury her husband and is a
single mother. and this young daughter was unbelievable, so literate she said i read six to ten bucks a day to my daughter and my husband was very pleased in the way we were using her so i intend to continue and that these bookthesebooks will help . just about every human being knows deep down inside that if you have a child, raising that child is your most important job. i grateful for personal reasons. he sent us copies of the hairy potter books, so we wouldn't have to wait in line at the bookstore and that is one of the things the establishment gets so
[inaudible] [laughter] he wrote me a letter when i was president saying i should give a national presidential medal because of contributions in new orleans had been overlooked. she had a pretty tough life. i did, and i was so glad i did. it is easy to overlook the good people. he said. kos and chelsesent chelsea a bo. reading to your children and grandchildren is about the neatest thing i've ever done. i still get a great deal of pleasure out of it, but i think about all the parents and grandparents who would never have been able to do that if it were not for you and scholastic
and what you do. people would have felt left out and left behind. dick robinson has one a bunch of awards and deserved them all that i don't think he will win one that will reflect his heart better, because all over this country, there are people that are forming new networks at the speed of light, stimulated by books that wouldn't be there weren't not for his job at scholastic and his commitment to this kind of philanthropic work. it is a good example of what i try to tell people all the time. you don't have to be in an elected office to do the public
that is only one of the stories he told me backstage about books and reading and children. what a remarkable human being, president clinton. we all remember him as someone who could talk to anybody and connect with them as if they were the only person in the world and that is the way that i feel right now. i feel like i should sit down and let him speak on my behalf. [laughter] i want to thank them for coming here tonight and part of a family with three best-selling authors that he referred to including right now, a children's book. and tonight, we honor him as a champion of books and reading for all and his consistent
leadership on issues of litera literacy, education, freedom of expression and particularly of course, his passion and his calm passion for people that is obvious in the way that he talked with us. i won't sit down, but i feel like i should right now. he also captures my wonder about the word literary in, which i am hesitant to share with cab drivers, but i'm glad he feels like somehow the company defines the word. his story about defining books is close to my heart and i wish he hadn't referred to it as completely charitable because
shareholders are always criticizing me for that but nonetheless, thank you president clinton and i want to thank the executive director. [applause] you probably noticed the room is twice as full as it used to be as well as the directors of the book foundation for acknowledging scholastic this year. your leadership is making the organization and even more vital part of the culture that we honor tonight. i want to thank the people with scholastic arounofscholastic arn each of whom will tell you that their job is to help children read as well as our closest associates here tonight who driven the company forward for many years including help on this short speech from two of my
closest friends. here with me tonight are also members of the robinson family who share their scholastic stories and my father started the company in 1920 as the high school magazine devoted to the best contemporary literature and social issues still in our dna nearly 100 years later. as two important parts of the message tonight, i am so proud to introduce and honor, i can't name them all, but the 1 12 authors that joined me here as well as the chancellor in new york city that teaches more than a million children to read and understand so the creative books in schools and distribution are all part of the story.
to be at peace book awards i found some great writers out there getting pictures taken. i always wanted to receive the award and i broke several of them unpublished. [laughter] i'm so grateful to you for giving me the award instead. i became an english teacher in a good high school and discovered why all about a third of the students could read well enough, most of them really didn't want to read or did not read confidently because the books but they were assigned were not connected to their lives, so this became a personal challenge to me. how could i get more kids to read? i joined scholastic and learned the strength of the company was reaching into the classrooms and book clubs and magazines getting an immediate response from
students and teachers this was to make reading more exciting and accessible. research shows if children choose and own their books they are more likely to finish them. it was the link between the child, the school and the book enabled by teachers whose job it is to inspire to learn to read. then as now is to ensure the books and magazines are easily acceptable subject matter and above all in the student interest. through the years we worked hard to find books and topics that would reach different backgrounds, and i've personally been working on what is now called diverse books for more
than 50 years. today, we are aware that the children in u.s. schools are more economically diverse than ever. 50% of the children are of color. so, more effort needs to be made to find a wide range of diverse experiences in order to reach the goal. that is an old story that is always knew. we are an enthusiastic provider not just the gateway to academic success but it's a great way to learn more about you about yourn who you want to be. we are happy to publish and sell award-winning books and happy to find books that make you laugh because we know reading for fun is likely to turn you into a lifelong reader. choosing scholastic to be honored tonight, you are also
recognizing the power of children's books not just a category in publishing that as a creative enterprise operates at the highest artistic level to enter the world of the child's imagination. the storytellers that are here tonight work in picture books and graphic novels and even alternate illustrations and text to build stories. there is no formula for what would work. to match the interest of a great story or character is still a realm of the storyteller or artist. books like goosebumps, captain underpants, magic school bus, harry potter and hunger games, all titled as children books topped the best sellers list for children and adults and will certainly live for generations. these have converted them on
readers intthenonreaders into re it available to all and the titles have contributed for the learning of children by enlarging their world holding them in higher levels of showing them the magic of stories that define what it is to be human and the information to help them understand the world we live in. to carry out the goal of reading for all they reach through to make books available to large numbers of children who do not have access to bookstores or libraries, but are reading because of their teachers and schools. the last 50 years, we have sold globally more than 13 billion copies of more than 100,000 titles. namely published by some of whom are in the room tonight including scholastic. during this period, the u.s. classroom magazines also circulated about 15 billion copies america would be a
different place without the influence of all the reading. millions of teachers work enthusiastically each day to help children learn to read. all schools of course should be equally equipped to educate children at a higher level but has no, they are frequently constrained by international resources and so they provide unequal education depending on the social class, zip code and access. equal education is not only the law of the land, that the only solution to obtaining a democratic society we must all work to help our schools have the resources they need to lift all children. [applause] the 21st century as a children's publisher and educator we look
to the world and see 20 or 30 years from now for children in school now but are adults and citizens, but in that world to mid 20th century it is extremely likely that reading and learning whether presidential form will be important for all people. we don't want the world to become 20% have a tab and edie%e taught their access to the literature and information becomes a matter of status. so all can understand how to read and think and to understand the dimensions of the human spirit through stories and to understand how the world works for information and nonfiction it is likely that our society will shift perhaps at first to a world where the elites powered by technology will control information. we have a huge stake in establishing a level playing
field where everyone reads and understands whether from a book, facebook, twitter feed ensuring that all people can have a voice in determining what the society should be. this is why i believe reading for all is an important idea to take late-night. in the technology driven information age, the future depends on all people having access to reading and literature and information. as a part of the larger goal in the u.s. and around the world, their readers will strive to be better and be more connected to others to build a world of hope and caring and to make their lives better and society stronger. so as writers toward us, teachers, librarians, booksellers and publishers, please join me in recognizing the importance of tonight's message and battle cry, reading so. thank you very much. [applause]
congratulations again. the second lifetime achievement award will be presented the distinguished competition to american letters. whoever named of these awards knew a lot of words but brevity is probably not likely one of them. but anyway, for a medal for distinguished contribution to the american letters is given to a writer that has over the course of th the career greatly enriched the buttery heritage through the body of work.
here tonight to present the medal is academy award-winning actress anna hathaway. ♪ thank you, my fellow luminous nerd. ladies and gentlemen, i expected to be here but didn't know i would be following bill. we are honored by your presence but you must stop going first. [laughter] as intimidated a as i am to be here, i am even more thrilled to get to be the one to give this year's medal for distinguished contribution of american letters. [applause]
i can't even say i feel like i know her from the writing. i am simply not clever enough to spot her in that spectrum of humanity that she has created. i do know her characters. i'm actively haunted by them in some cases now more than a decade after i first met them, like i'm driving to work and i wonder did he make it to his daughter's wedding were i'm doing the dishes and i wonder if they survived the winter. i can't hook u look at the mounn range without hearing music and at least once a week i inevitably come across a story in the news so heartbreaking, so and possibly damagimpossibly da. i find myself thinking he's in the ditch. [laughter]
these people do in fact exist and i find myself inclined to believe that it was written down and just pulled back the curtain to get a peek which is of course wrong and hugely disrespectful of the talen talent and hard wod genius, and i won't go into it now to have created such as was done on a flat surface of no discernible to accept using nothing more than a literal or metaphorical ink to have written how life lays us bear and fine grind us down, to have strict people down to the bone and
don't remember the grace. all of that creepy richness emerging. it's not an accident. which leaves us with this astonishing truth she really is just that good. her contribution of the american letters are that distinguished. heartbreak is a raw experience we all have in common whether we admit it or not even if the details may differ from person to person and story to story. as a species, we tend to run from our sadness and loneliness and fear, or as it was absurd, aobserved,as we fear we often rt or maybe happiness and wholeness
with bright voices but the heartbreak is they are all the same just gone into the walls of our house. to look at the stark truth of humanity in the face and not turn into a pillar of salt. and to share who we are compassionately, honestly. she described her experience of writing as an intense concentration tracking which she has tracked again and again, letter by letter. she has communicated to the world that seems based in ideological humbleness of who we
are and perhaps more significantly what it is we are actually feeling. i can't speak for anyone else, but because of her work, i am better able to welcome the ten ernest davis and the loss itself and to navigate with kind eyes and a deep reverence for the beauty and value of sadness which is to say of life. we are rich because of devastating poetry like the shirt seemed heavy until he saw another inside, this needs work down and it was his own as he thought the pocket ripped and buttons missing.
like two skins won inside the oe other, to him on. the address i was wearing when i met my husband was tucked inside the shirt he was wearing when he met me thanks to you. no, i don't know, but i know what i and would be all over. some of the best-known titles are the stories that include brooke back mountain, bird cloud and some of the awards or the pulitzer prize and national book award. please join me in welcoming to the stage the medal for distinguished contribution of american letters, the singular talent annie prue. [applause] ♪
thank you. i think the national book award foundation because it seems for this i was surprised when i learned about it and i'm grateful and honored to have received it and to be here tonight. and i think my editors, for it is her middle, too. we don't live in the best of all possible worlds. the televisions sparkles with images of sexual harassment reports. we cannot look away from the pictures of streets elements, hurricanes and fires from the repetitive crowd murders by gunmen burning with rage and if the threat of nuclear war.
we observed the manipulation of the credulous population dividing into the tribal cultures. we are living through the representative democracy to something called by roll back democracy now cascading over us in a tsunami of raw data. [applause] everything is situational between the response of vicious confrontations. for some it is a time of growth and technological innovation that is bringing us into an exciting world and for others it is the opening of a difficult book without a happy ending.
to me, the circumstance of the new order is the accelerated destruction of the natural world and the belief that only the human species has the inalienable right to life into d the god given permission t givio take anything it wants from nature whether the mountain tops, the wetlands or will. the business of stripping the earth is drowning the land may have brought us to a place where no technology can save us. i found in inauguration becoming involved in the project this is something everyone can do. [applause]
agree state has marvelous projects of every kind of ground working with fish, plants, animals, landscapes and water situations. yet somehow the values and the longings persist. we still have feelings for these notions such as truth and respect for others, personal honor, justice, equitable sharing. we still hope for a happy ending. we still believe we can save ourselves in the indescribable difficult tasks as we discover it is far more mysteriously complex than we thought and entangled with factors we cannot even recognize, but we keep trying because there is nothing else to do.
happy endings still back in and it is in the hopes of grasping it that we go on. the poet caught the dilemma of choosing between the hard realities and longing for the happy ending. she called it consolation darwin. they say he read novels to relax but only certain kinds, nothing that can get unhappily. if it was something like that, enraged with the book into the fire. true or not, i am ready to believe it. scanning his mind so many times and places, he had enough, the triumphs of the strong over the weeweek,weak, the endless strugo survive, all doomed sooner than later. he earned the right to have them into fiction with its micro
scales. hence the indispensable silver lining, the families reconciled about reported for the treasures uncovered. the neighbors mending their way in thto good names restored, thy were married off to the other hemisphere is for it is the documents cost down the stairs. prodigal sons called home and drenched the reconciliations, general celebration and the dog gone astray in the first chapter. [applause]
[cheering] [applause] bad news for everyone who was black-tie outfits are already restraining. it's time to eat. we will break for dinner and for those of you watching the live stream of the ceremony on facebook, highlights from last night's finalist reading where all presented passages from the nominated books will now be shown. we will be back to announce the winners of the national book
♪ everything but foundation does is designed to connect readers and books, and everything we do start that the national book award. we celebrate literature. we celebrate great books. we honor writers that are telling the stories that we need to hear. the book that changed my life i came across it because of the national book award. the foundation is staking out a
position of the vital importance of literature to who we are as a country that's one of the aspects of our greatness is going to be the quality of the art that we produce. >> it is a lonely business, and to have your self recognized, to have your work recognized by other writers, that means something. >> it is important to me because it doesn't discriminate. it doesn't matter if you come from very little money or a lot of money. it doesn't matter if you are an avid reader or coming to reading more slowly. there is something for every community. i hope people understand the purpose isn't just to celebrate great literature but why the win the audience and think of the ways to do that.
>> thinking about ways to get people to build a lifelong habit. separatincelebrating young auth. we've worked with the department of education with 270,000 books and distributed that. the national book foundation is helping to bring books to the portal panthers other reasons but as far as i'm concerned, that outweighs everything else. >> i grew up in rural alabama and i remember 1956 when i was
>> they preserve culture. >> dot best writing allows us to see what is possible. >> the national book foundation executive director and the chairman of the board. ♪ my worst nightmare just happened. i almost tripped up the stairs and also i'm still trying to pull myself together. i'm lisa lucas the executive director of the national book foundation. [applause]
[cheering] and i'm the chairman of the board. [applause] we are so thrilled to welcome you back. it is the portion of the evening we will learn who wins the 2017 national book award. before we get there we wanted to say a few were a lot of words. first we want to have a round of applause for all 20 of the finalists. and another round of applause for the lifetime achievement honoree. [applause] so inspired b by everyone we are submitting tonight and my hope is that we will not just to celebrate them tonight in spite
of these walls and during the hours that we are here but we will keep reading the work that they write all geared around. >> we need to thank our sponso sponsors. we wouldn't be able to do this without our sponsors. let me read a list of who we sponsored tonight. thank you to scholastic, barnes and noble, the book publishing papers, thank you also to facebook, harpercollins, google, the 100 foundation, alberto bertelli, thank you to all of you for making this possible. [applause] think you also to the dinner
committee and a fellow board members, the 2017 national book of judges who do an incredible amount of work and thank you to the national book foundation staff and especially the director lisa lucas. [applause] [cheering] also thanks to the board of directors, for coming here and supporting us. it has been an honor to put all of the work that we do together. we are tiny but mighty and it wouldn't be possible without the people that we call team book. shout out to them.
a special thing supposed to courtney gillett. this is her last award with us. she is extraordinary and we are so proud of her. we will miss her so much. a big shout out for putting it together. none of this would have been possible without her. tonight is the power of the story and recognition and celebration and innovation. a story we are proud of and one that we are extremely invested in and growing. the story of connecting books to their readers, young and old into those already devoted to the written word we strive to ensure that they stay a part of our cultural conversation. as part of the book festival, college campuses, libraries and all kinds of communities that need access to literature.
the reason we do this work is that we do not do it alone. we do this work with all of you, so many in the room we do this work holding your hand. >> it is worth just taking a minute to talk of the commission at the national book foundation that we talk about all the time. we are always on that mission. the mission of the national book foundation is to celebrate the great literature, expand its audience and increase the impact of books in the culture. that is the mission of the foundation. so, when we come together -- when we come together once a year the national book foundation and the team are working on programs that have an impact and make a difference, so for example in the last year alone the foundation and
publishers donated 270,000 books to housing development communities over 25 states. these are places that did not have the books they need with the books are not available. >> penguin random house and for the donation of books. >> the afterschool program for junior and high school and 20 different sites, hundreds of kids are getting the chance to start in the home libraries and we've been able to bring the honorees like the finalists tonight to events all over the country, so amherst massachusetts, tucson arizona, to morehead minnesota, the foundation supports that work and we are just getting started. we will do projects to help
people with literature. [applause] [cheering] the story of the national book foundation is a moment of exceptional and potential possibility. there is so much we can do together to amplify the joy of reading in the powe the power oe and the value of books. .. [applause] >> in your program this evening. yes this is the part where i'm going to ask you for money. there is an envelope, there is
envelope in your program and the at end of the evening there will be a little box where you can place the envelopes which will be full of love at the end of the evening and support the work that we're doing. >> right, when i was at persius, basic books published a book called happiness hypothesis by jonathan haigh. great book. if you want to get hapner, most directly to do it, give money to something you most care about. >> i said this is joy work. >> we have a lot of happiness in the room but we're really excited to offer you the opportunity to even be happer. do what lisa said. >> we're totally horrified, nonetheless we want to you support us. moving on from that, books matter because they can connect
us as nothing else can. together we can span the audience for literature and celebrate great writing across the country. we can make it known loud and clear books in fact do matter. i really, really believe that they do. so thank you, so much, for reading books. thank you so much for making books. thank you so much for believing in us. thank you so much for believing in books. [applause] >> and now, congratulations again to all of our finalists, and on to the award ceremony. >> all of you finalists, remember you're all winners already. [applause] >> thank you so much, david, and lisa. if that video of the john lewis acceptance speech didn't touch you deeply, please exit the room immediately.
[laughter]. but don't forget to drop your donation card at the back. [laughter]. clearly the national book foundation is accomplishing incredible things all year-round t begin as the national book awards, we come to the time of the program to announce what everybody is waiting for, and what 20 finalists had to sit through dinner break anticipating. the national book awards have been recognizing exceptional lilt airy work since 1950 and this year is no different. these 20 authors from debuts to previously-nominated writers are all brilliant and powerful and excitingly, 15 of the 20 finalists this year are women. [applause] is that the most women there have ever been?
either way, it's a real thrill. don't get me wrong, the mens books are wonderful too. but thoughtout to the ladies. [cheering] the national book awards are particularly exciting because until the moment that the title of the winner leaves the judge's mouths, no one but the five-person panel of judges knows the decisions, not the foundation board, not its staff, not even the tech team who has to anxiously hope they're putting the right slide up on the screen. the judges made their final decisions only earlier today. so everyone, everyone is hearing it here at the same time for the first time. the winners in each category will be announced by the chair of the respective category presented in reverse alphabetical order, and not because people consider fiction to be the climax. these categories are, young peoples literature, poetry,
nonfiction, and fiction. i would like to begin welcoming the stage to the panel chair for young peoples literature, and i'm going to say her name but don't clap because i'm going to tell you a little bit about her first. [laughter]. meg medina. meg medina is the 2012 easy can keiths new writers winner for tia wants a car and for the yadida wants to kick your ass. and mango and me. her novel, burn, baby burn, niba, ya book of the year was long listed for the 2016 national book award and finalist for the kirkis prize and the los angeles book prize. in 2014, she was named one of cnn's 10 visionary women in america.
it gives me great pleasure to introduce meg medina. ♪ [applause] >> wow. good evening, everyone. this really is going to be two minutes because i timed it. you're welcome. i would first like to acknowledge my fellow judges who are sitting at table 54 who came -- [applause] yes. they're awesome. who came to the task of reading hundreds of books with their signature brilliance good nature and thoughtfulness. they have my heartfelt thanks forever. they are suzanna hermans,
brendan kiley, tecla ma goon and alex sanchez. [applause] the books we read as young people are sacred. and they're sacred because they guide us through growing up. they remain imprinted on us for a lifetime. these are the books that shape how young people see themselves and the world. they're the works that are their comfort through difficult times, and the ones that have the potential to turn them into lifelong readers. it was through that powerful lens that our committee combed through the many worthy submissions. our committee considered each submission against three criteria.
one, did the work demonstrate outstanding literary merit, through masterful use of prose, compelling plot, uniqueness of voice, and its nuanced characterizations? two, would the work endure? does it name and document an experience that is most relevant to the lives contrary young people and timeless in its examination of the human experience? and three, does the work promise to expand the reader's understanding of him or herself in the world? through its selected format, does it offer young people a space to self-reflect and to make connections between their own lives and lives of others. the following distinguished books achieved all of those criteria.
we feel so proud to have named them as the 2017 finalists. they are, "what girls are made of." by elana k. arnold. learner publishing company. [applause] "far from the tree" by robin benway by harpercollins. [applause] >> "i'm not your perfect mexican daughter." erica sanchez. penguin random house. >> klain ton bird goes underground. by, rita williams ba l garcia
adrenaline rush like the national book foundation. oh, my gosh. three times in two months, oh, wow. i have never imagined that i would be in this experience. so i'm going to play it by ear. first i have to thank the national book foundation for multiple adrenaline rushes and i need to thank lisa lucas and her entire time not only for making this beautiful night but making this experience beautiful for us and my fellow finalists t has been a magical experience. i can not thank their hard work and team enough. to the judges of this category, i can't see but i feel you. i appreciate everything that you have done and for the opportunity that you have given me and again my finalists. to my short list finalists i need to thanks. ibisobooi, rita williams garcia, erica sanchez and elana arnold.
to share this with you is absolute honor. [applause] your books have just been so beautiful. to see my title amongst yours is something i don't think i quite understood yet. also want to thank our fellow long listers. angie thomas, jason reynolds, laura snyder. i'm so proud to see our 10 titles together. i'm so proud to share this with you. as many of you in this room know, if you write a book or you publish a book it takes a village to make that book something else. so i need to thank my village. my agent, lisa, i meter in in 2006. she sent an email. we've been partners in metaphorical crime ever since. thank my team at harper. if i name all of you, i they will get me the hook. rene, suzanne, jen. also assistants, i feel make the world go around. i like to thank their assistants
as well. yeah. [cheers and applause] i need to thank you a very special assistant elizabeth, whose emails always made me laugh during the process of writing this book. i need to thank my dear friends and my dear editor kristin petit. i spoke to her on the phone march 2nd, 2007. first thing i said i'm so happy to talk to you. she replied, no. no, i'm so happy to talk to you. and we have been very happy to talk to each other ever since. she has been my guiding light in this process and more importantly, a good, good friend which is so hard to come by in this world. i appreciate her every single day and her family. i am very sorry to kristin harper. this book was over a year late. and i hope that this absolves me somewhat. thank you. [applause] i need to thank my lovely, lovely friends during the course
of writing this book they sometimes literally propped me up. they met me for writing dates. they cooked me food. they poured me coffee. they poured me a few things stronger than coffee. they gave me the will to write this book and teach me what friendship is b i thank them for that. i thank them for their senses of glorious humor. at the end of the day, "far from the tree" is about family. i need to think of mine. both my father and grandmother have passed but my grandmother was the most creative person i ever met in my life. she taught me creativity is not inspiration. it is not a bolt of lightning. about getting up, making coffee to get to work to find the room that lightning lit up for that one moment. i'm really good getting up making coffee. i'm trying to get better at that last thing. my father passed away many years ago. he did not see this career of mine. he talk me you work hard not only for yourself but for your family. if he was here, he would be so proud. then he would immediately say
you better get to work on the next book, kid. so i thank him for that. i thought when i lost him i would never talk to them again. i talk to them every single day. especially when i was writing "far from the tree." this book is dedicated to my buddy my that a big sister could ever ask for. what if somebody doesn't like it? what if they don't like my writing? and he said, what if someone does? because of that conversation that i'm standing here today. it is reminder that i was wrong and he was right. i don't say that very often. i am so grateful to him. i am so proud of the man he has become. at the end of the day my mom was the one who supported me throughout the entire process of this book. [applause] when we were kids, and we didn't know a word, we would ask her what it meant. she would say let's look it up. we hated that. because we had to get the dictionary off-the-shelf to look it up. she taught me how to be curious
and unapologetic as a woman about that curiosity. how important it is to have empathy, which are qualities i try to use every single day writing for young people, especially teenagers. they are the toughest audience because they need to hear the truth more than anybody in days like today. wriests for them is the absolute biggest honor of my life. every time i look at this award and think of this magical night and i will remember how to do my job well and in honor of them. thank you so, so much. [applause] >> to present the national book award for poetry is monica yewn. monica is the author of three books of poetry most recently
black acre which won the william carlos williams award of the poetry society of america. it was also a finalist for the national book critics circle award, pen open book award and long listed for the national book award. her previous book, ignatz, was a finalist for the national book award. her poems have been widely published including including in poetry. the daughter of korean immigrants and former lawyer, she was raised in houston, texas, and now lives in new york. it gives me great pleasure to introduce monica yeun. ♪ [applause] >> well this is nerve-racking. so first of all i would really like to recognize the hard work and open-minded dedication of my
fellow judges, nick flynn -- [applause] jane mead who is sadly unable to join us tonight. gregory pardlow. and richard siken. [applause] over the past six months we have made up our minds, second-guessed ourselves, third-guessed ourselves, debated, argued, become better friends, become better poets and become hopefully better citizens of our literary community. i want to thank them for the most difficult task i have ever been assigned and also the most wonderful one. i'm grateful to the national book found decision to give me a chance to work for these books, work for these pets. in -- poets, in these days we ask what can poetry do? it can feel as if the world is a machine made out of bludgeons
and knives and the question is whether in order to hold our own, to defend the people and the values who which hold dear, do we need to make ourselves into bludgeons and knives to beat our plowshares back into swords? but the best answer i have heard was a few months ago from jacqueline polk who quote ad german poet who said, be ornery, be as sand, not oil in the thirsty machinery of the world. and reading these books, i learned that the poem can be the drop of saltwater wearing away at the machine, corroding its workings, teaching its patience, slowness, mortality. the poem can be the worm who feeds on what is dead, who dares to take corruption into its own body so that it can change into
new forms of sustenance. the poem can be a the spark that lights up hidden places of the machine that can amplify, can arc into a countercurrent, a short-circuit. a poem can be a ripple that dances and retreats, finding its own resonance, pulling more and more into its pattern, changing into an unstoppable tide. so for those who are asking, what poetry can do, what poets can do in these times and for these times? i am very happy to refer hem to the poets of the long list and the national book award finalists for this year. the final its for the set of national book award in poetry are, frank bidarh, half light, collected poems, 1965-2016.
>> i want to stay what an honor it has been to be a finalist alongside these four pets and their superb books. the first person i must thank is john gilesy. [applause] he is a dream editor. my indebtedness to him throughout my writing and publishing life can not possibly be repaid. secondly i want to thank andrew wiley. after my last book, when we had dinner, he brought a pile of all my eight books, and said that i must put them together in one volume. without his words i don't know
that i would have had the courage to do so. art has many mansions. there is always something wrong when we treat it as if it is one mansion with a discernible hierarchy of values within it. i realized during the past month that i'm almost twice as old as any of the other finalists. writing the poems was how i survived. you might well ask, is it really a question of survival? my sense is that all human beings alive have the most enormous schisms in their experience. terrifying schisms within our feelings, and within what we discover the world to be. one premise of art is that
anything personal deeply enough becomes general, becomes impersonal. i hope that the journeys these poems go on will help others to survive as well. one book, eight books, whose hubris is to seek to become understood as a single project as one book. i thank you for honoring it. [applause] >> the national book award for none -- non-fiction, will be presented by paula geddngs.
she is the african studs discollege at smith college. she has published four books. winner of "the los angeles times" prize in biography and finalist for the national book critics circle award. she is member pen and serves on the board of the authors league fund and the nation institute. it gives me great pleasure to introduce, paula j. gedings. ♪ >> good evening. let me begin by acknowledging and thanking my copanelists and judges for the national book award. steve bercu, jeff chang, ruth
franklin and valeriaboceli. [applause] our elective distributions about these booked morphed into rich seminars and happily we as a group were as collegial as we were opinionated. a rare combination that made this nearly-impossible task both a challenge and a joy. indeed over the years i have heard judges talk about the hundreds of books that must be considered. the competitiveness of the submissions and the regret that relatively so few must be chosen for the final lists and of course we must choose a single winner. i offer no exception to those sentiments tonight.
what we did think was exceptional, however, was historical moment we find ourselves in. and as we find our selections those books remained in contention shared a number of characteristics. they were books that were truly national and or transnational in scope and significance. that is to say, they were books that spoke to the underpinnings to shape a culture and the politics of a people within it. they were books that spoke to the tyranny of the state through those who perpetuate it, through those who succomb to it, and those through who resist. and, they are books that spoke to the author's art in revealing the frailty and the transsend
dense of the human spirit, as it navigated these larger than life forces. the five finalists for the 2017 national book award in the category of non-fiction are. erica armstrong dunbar. [applause] never caught, the washingtons relentless pursuit of their run away slave, ona judge. [applause] francis fitzgerald. the evangelicals. [applause] the evangelicals, the struggle to shape america.
m masha gessen. [applause] the future is history. how the totalitarianism reclaimed russia. david grann. [applause] killers of the flower moon. the osage murders and the birth of the fbi. >> and finally, nancy maclpan. [applause] democracy in chains, the deep history of the radical right's stealth plan for america. and the winner of the 2017
and, i was, i never thought that a russia book could actually be long listed or short listed for the national book award, but, things have changed. [laughter]. i, i had a peculiar luxury when was writing this book, i got a grant from the carnegie foundation. and so for the first time in my life i could write a book and spend the time to read an entire book to write a paragraph. and i'm very grateful for that, and, for the people who allowed me to get that support but i'm particularly grateful to my publisher, riverhead for -- [applause] for sticking with me for some years and especially rebecca, who has been with me for more books than i can actually remember the at moment.
[applause] but especially for never reminding me what this book was originally supposed to be. [laughter] and this book was originally supposed to be a short polemical work about russia's war against the west and its efforts to undermine democracies. it ended up being a very different book about the nature of a country's turn away from democracy. about opportunities not taken, and about things that didn't happen. so it was much more complicated book to write and probably a. more complicated book to edit. thanks for reading it and choosing it and honoring it, thank you. [applause]
>> to present the national book award for fiction is jacqueline woodson. [applause] jacqueline woodson is the "new york times" best-selling author of, another brooklyn, which was a 2016 fiction finalist for the national book award, naacp image award, a "los angeles times" book prize, and a it was number one indi ie pick. her 2014 best-seller, brown girl dreaming, won the national book award in young people's literature. [applause] and was the recipient of the coretta scott king award, newberry honor award, naacp image award and the silver honor award. [applause] woodson was named young peoples poet laureate 2015 to 2017 by
the poetry foundation. she is the author of more than two dozen award winning books for young adults, middle graders, and children. among her many accolades, she is four-time newberry honor winner, three-time national book award finalist and two-time coretta scott king award winner. it gives me great pleasure to introduce my friend, jacqueline woodson. [applause] ♪ >> i loved my committee so much. this year we read over 300 books and we were traveling. so we carried books to bulgaria. we carried books to europe. to tuscany. we carried books from the pacific northwest to the east coast. we carried books from the connecticut to the pacific
northwest. from l.a. to new york city. and they were hardcover. [laughter] and when we got on the phone, we just had such a deep respect and love for each other, even when we were fighting. and, we pushed each other to read beyond our comfort level. we figured out what the books we wanted to choose had to say. by the time we came to the end of it, our decision was unanimous. but before that, we wanted it to be 15 on the long list. and 20 on the long list. we wanted it to be seven finalists. but in the end we were very, very happy. i'm so proud of the committee. alexander chi. [applause] dave eggars. [applause]
annie philbrick. [applause] caroline vokiyak. [applause] and me. [applause] so first and foremost, i want to thank the committee. i love you guys so much. i never want to do this again. but i always want to work with you. [laughter]. i want to thank the national book foundation. i want to us look around this room, as my good friend cynthia said, i've been a finalist four times. i have watched the national book founddation change over the years and this is one of the most diverse and beautiful rooms i have ever been inside of. [applause] so thanks so much for your support. keep supporting us and now on to the finalists.
dark at the crossing. elliot ackerman. published by knopf, penguin random house. believers. lisa ko, algonquin books. pachinko. min gin lee. her body and other parties. carmen maria machado. grey wolf press. sing, unburied sing. jesmyn ward. published by scribner. simon & schuster. we're at the end of the night. and i am so happy to be happy to be here. and i am so happy to tell you who the winner is. sing, unburied, sing.
subtext, right? it was this. people will not read your work because these are not universal stories. i don't know whether some door coopers felt this way because i wrote about poor people or wrote about black people or i wrote about southerners. as my career progressed and as i, i got some affirmation i still encountered that mind-set every now and again. i still find myself having uncomfortable conversations with reluctant readers who initially didn't want to read my work because they said, what do i have in common with a pregnant 15-year-old? why should i read about a 13-year-old poor black boy or his neglectful, drug addicted mother? what do they have to say to me. you writers, editors, national book foundation folks who read my work and answered plenty. you looked at me the people i love around write b you luked at my poor, black, southern
children, women and men you saw yourself. you saw your grief, your love, your losses, your regrets, your joy, your hope. i am deeply grateful to each and everyone of you who read my work and find something that sings to you, that moves you in it. i hope to continue this conversation with you for all of our days. [applause] for scribner, especially nan graham, susan, rose, liz, pearl, katy, sally and everyone at simon & schuster who believed in this book and helped birth it. from my home state booksellers, past books, square books, and all the independent bookstores. [applause] and not sos like amazon and barnes & noble that helped my words find readers.
for tulane university which understands and encourages my need to write for the national book foundation, especially lisa lucas and david steinberg and all the judges and all the committees, all of you who honor so greatly. my friends who read my horrible early drafts. for my agent, jennifer lyons, who loved my work for the beginning. everyone at agate and blooms bury, who first ushered my work into the world and my editor and dear friend, kathy belled din. who makes me a better writer and human being, for all of you i am forever grateful. my beautiful mother noreen is with me tonight. [applause] i give thanks for your love, your ferocity, your work. so many people i love are not in this building but here in body
and spirit. my children, my family, my friend and little mississippi in california. hey, daddio. i want to close by telling them you and this, thank you for loving me, supporting me, encouraging me to be exactly who i am and letting me reimagine and amplify your lives and voices. i love you with everything within me. thank you. [applause] >> enormous congratulations to the winners of tonight's national book awards. [applause] these four writers have been entered into the cannon of american literature, alongside
writers like ralph ellison, john as bury, flannery o'connor, catherine patterson, and alice walker and more. to everyone here and watching, you know what to buy friends and family for the holidays. [laughter]. thank you so much to all of tonight ace nominees. winners, judges, attendees and viewers. [applause] the national book awards wouldn't be possible without the wonderful support of readers everywhere. for everyone in attendance, please join us upstairs for the aft party hosted by instagram. they have built and amazing reading nook up there where you can take a photo that says, i'm definitely not drunk. i'm just reading. [laughter] don't forget the envelopes on
your table. please give what you can. thank you again for coming. keep reading. good night. [cheers and applause] ♪ >> the 68th annual book awards were held this past wednesday. now we want to show you the winner in non-fiction. it is masha gessen. she appeared on a panel discussion in september from the brooklyn book festival to discuss her book, the future is history. >>